“I believe everyone needs to find their own work pattern and understand when they’re most productive with certain type of tasks.”
Jason Wong is the Founder of RiseHigh.co, a curated talent marketplace that lets top professionals confidentially discover opportunities at high-growth tech firms. Since RiseHigh’s launch in June 2015, they’ve worked with around 40 startups, including the likes of Uber and Transferwise.
Prior to RiseHigh, Jason founded GradMinds, an invite-based graduate recruitment platform he started whilst studying at LSE. There, he also co-organised [email protected], the UK’s largest student entrepreneurship conference and mentored at Imperial College’s incubation program.
Where did the idea for RiseHigh come from?
Having been on both sides of the startup hiring table, as a candidate and Founder, I’ve experienced the inefficiencies with recruiting first hand. For startups executing against the clock, finding the right candidates fast is tough, whilst recruitment agencies are expensive and are generally not so pleasant to work with. For top-tier candidates looking for the next challenge, having to browse through dozens of job ads before sending off applications one-by-one sucks up a lot of time… with no guaranteed results.
We built RiseHigh to replace recruitment agencies with something more efficient, affordable and transparent. For startups, this means throwing out the piles of CVs in favour of only seeing truly relevant candidates, and paying a fair placement fee. For candidates, this means only being presented with job offers which are relevant to your interest and skill set, with details on salary and equity upfront.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I believe everyone needs to find their own work pattern and understand when they’re most productive with certain type of tasks. For me, I find myself most effective when I structure my day like this:
– Start of day: all things sales related – nothing gives me more energy to start the day than speaking with customers and users.- Before lunch: getting all operational work that can’t be delegated out of the way.
– Early afternoon: teamwork/meetings that require significant input from me/actual brain energy.
– Late afternoon: meetings which require less input from me; reading status reports, partnership discussions etc.
– Evening: more creative work (marketing/ product content/ product development) and longer term strategic planning.
I generally work in 45 minutes increments, and shut down my email, slack and put my phone on flight mode when trying to get real work done.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Incrementally. Starting and launching, even if it’s imperfect. Four weeks from launch our sole developer left us for Goldman Sachs and our product was incomplete/unusable. We found a way to launch a ‘concierge MVP’ version of our product and signed up the first few paying customers (including Uber, who was our second customer) within a month that way
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Products and services that allow you to ‘buy’ time. In the B2C world, it’s apps like Uber and Taskrabbit. In the B2B world, it’s services – like RiseHigh – that allow businesses to outsource individual functions and move faster as a result. It’s estimated that Founders spend up to 40% of time on hiring – so by offering a product that lets Founders recoup part of that time back, is hugely valuable.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Protecting my time through delegation. Whenever new tasks and responsibilities emerge, I instinctively think whether someone else could do it. It’s not just about saving time, because more often than not that someone else ends up doing a better job than I would have done!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I don’t consider it the ‘worst job’ – but I’ve done two internships which comprised largely of cold calling. One was with the Mayor’s re-election campaign, where I called up voters. The second was with a luxury mobile app startup, calling up corporations to get their employees to trial the app (I signed The Trump Organisation up through cold calling, which I considered quite an achievement at the time!).
I learnt a great deal about sales, handling objections, achieving results with little support, and what you can get from ‘just asking’.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have launched even faster and earlier.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Making it a routine to collect useful and relevant data across the board, and optimising accordingly. You can’t improve something if you don’t measure it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Strong focus on delivering an exceptional experience, especially to early users.
This starts from understanding that user experience isn’t just some design concept – it’s how you and your product interact with users and how users subsequently feel at every touchpoint.
In practical terms, this means responding fast and finding immediate solutions to all reasonable customer requests, even if the solution doesn’t scale.
It also means knowing when to say no. For example, before we sell a subscription to each startup, we vet them to ensure we have enough candidates on our platform for the positions they’re hiring for, and that it’s a startup our candidate base would find interesting. For every 5 startups, we’ve accepted onto our platform, we’ve turned away at least one.
The result? 60% of our inbound leads now come from customer referrals.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One major mistake I made in my previous startup (also a two-sided marketplace) was trying to do too many things at once; in particular expanding to too many locations at once.
I’ve taken this lesson onboard, and am now very much focused on penetrating the London market first, developing a blueprint for success, before thinking of launching in new places.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)
I’ll give away two! Both tie in with what I mentioned earlier, about products and services that let you ‘buy’ time.
In the consumer market: an app that allows users to order and pay for food before arriving in a restaurant. To me, the whole process of having to wait for the waiter, food and cheque seems very unnecessary.
In the enterprise market: a scheduling tool that lets remote team members schedule meetings with each other without back and forth messages.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
I recently hired a virtual assistant, who’s paid around $100/ week, and that was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s freed me up from the mundane but essential tasks.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
There are many, but I will name three that I find the most valuable and are perhaps less well known:
Zapier – a workflow automation tools. I estimate Zapier saves our team at least 25hrs of developer and admin hours per week
Dryrun – a cashflow forecasting app. It’s a very practical tool for early stage teams to project cashflow, and has excellent customer support
Calendly – an appointment scheduling tool. It takes the pain out of emailing back and forth to arrange a convenient meeting time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The 4 hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I love my work and wouldn’t want to work only four hours a day even if I could, but the principles of this book changed how I thought about and valued my time. It also gave actionable tips on how I could better safeguard and utilise my time, through proactively blocking out distractions and setting up automated processes to minimise unnecessary, redundant work.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?It would have to be:
Tim Ferriss on productivity.
Gary Vaynerchuk on marketing.
Steli Efti on sales.
Jason Fried on product.
Felix Dennis on wealth.