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Desmond Lim is CEO and co-founder of Workstream an interactive hiring platform for restaurants, groceries, retail and hospitality firms, healthcare companies and more. Both of Desmond’s parents are hourly workers, and Desmond is the first to go to college and come to America where he attended MIT and Harvard.
Desmond was formerly an investor at Dorm Room Fund, Product Manager at WeChat, Infantry Officer with Singapore Armed Forces, and represented his country in basketball in the South East Asian Games (Hanoi) as starting point guard. He is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has lived in Boston, London, Singapore and Seoul, and has traveled to over 60 countries.
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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey guys! Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie.
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians
to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Bryan: [00:00:25] Hey guys, welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. My name is Bryan.
Maggie: [00:00:30] And my name is Maggie.
Bryan: [00:00:32] And this week we have Desmond Lim. Founder of Workstream.us. We're super excited to have him on the show. This guy is the definition of a stream hustler. He's a Harvard graduate, you know, and he started his company. We want to hear a lot more about his story.
So Singapore, and we all live in the Bay area. We're super excited to have him, Desmond Lim. Welcome to the show.
Desmond: [00:00:57] Thank you so much, Bryan, for having me, I'm very glad to give it to you all and to be able to share them all.
Bryan: [00:01:04] Yeah, we're super excited to have you here, but before we dive deep into Workstream, we want to learn about who are you? Like we don't understand that you grew up in Singapore, your parents, or, you know, workers that work really hard to give you the future that you needed to succeed. And that resonates with both of us too. And the reason why we started the Asian Hustle Network, we definitely want to hear more about your story.
Desmond: [00:01:28] Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah. Maybe I could just start by sharing it a bit more about me and about my parents. I think that that is like a great, a really great way to start and if you have any other questions we can go on from that. During that sounds good.
Bryan: [00:01:42] That sounds great.
Desmond: [00:01:43] Perfect. Thank you so much.
So I founded my first business, right after high school to pay for college, so what my parents, they are both hourly workers. My dad is, he's a driver, my mom, she just helps him. So my dad's been driving for the past 40 years. My granddad actually came from China to like Singapore when he was 17 and he owned $1 in his pocket and he actually like, he had this very big family.
My dad was like ranked fourth out of, I think 13 kids. So a very big family. So my dad came out to work very early. So did my mom. They both don't even finish fourth grade. So So right after high school, my parents, didn't want me to go out to school. They would say, Hey, you should go out and find a job because that is the way that we have learned.
Right. But I saw all my PSN friends, they were all going to school. I couldn't pay for it yet. So I exist. My various first business was actually teaching math and science. So I really thought that from this, I sought out as an add on these papers to be this tutor. So I started to call up people to see if I can help them to teach math and science.
I must have done about 50-100 calls and I got my first job. And from the very first student, I had a group, you have like five, ten students. I went on to grew to have more than 50 of the students. So so from just teaching one on one, I set out to form groups, whether I would teach group self four through five people, math and science.
And after that, I. Instead, I do match people. I started to match some of my friends who were keen to teach too to some of my students. So there was my very first business. I created enough sales to pay for college, back home, Singapore. And when I was in college, I found a Thai food restaurant having Tom yang, pad thai, trias.
It was very fun, but it was so very challenging having to hire Finnish people. But I learned so much from that, you know, and trying to run operations, finance, trying to hire people. I already feel like three years throughout college. All the while, while I was in school and our so blank spots. One of the fun facts that I think I, they didn't share with you and a team is, I've been playing basketball since young.
So I've been playing since I was seven and I would play it, deal with the tree. I was actually, Singapore's actually actually stopping, point guard. Wow. Yeah. So I've been playing basketball for my whole life since I was young. And I always tell folks that sports were one of the big things that really changed my life because my parents didn't know much about school.
I didn't know much about squatting work, but I was okay. And the spots. And I knew that if I tried to hut, I can get far away. Yeah, right. So I think throughout high school, college, while I was trying to juggle all the things I was supplying spots. I still read the booklet when I was playing in this Southeast Asian games, it was actually in Vietnam.
So, it was fun. We played against Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, and more. I think we we we were ranked at off. Yeah. Yeah. So this was on till about college. So maybe I'll pause here to see if I should go all.
[talking over each other]
Bryan: [00:05:40] It's a lot of great things that I can see why you're so successful already. It's just the way we're also brought up. You know, as you mentioned before, your grandparents had $1 came up like $1 and it makes me happy, you know, and I always feel like when you're down to your last resource, you become more resourceful because you have to survive.
You know you do things you will never do because you know you have a family you take care of. And that's really reminiscent of my own family. So my parents escaped the Vietnam war. And when he came over here, they were living off $25. And that's at that time, there were about 21, 22 and my sister and my brothers are born already.
You have to spend $25 to take care of the entire family, to my dad, and made some money.
Desmond: [00:06:27] Yeah.
Bryan: [00:06:28] You keep telling their stories. Like if we can live off $25, you can live off for much less than that. You have to be resourceful. And you're telling me what you spent it on. They spent in on a case of water. It's been some spent the money on instant noodles.
Okay. It was the last one. Yeah. You know, so that's really reminiscent of what your story and the way that we were brought up.
The other thing is your parents, finish up the fourth grade. My mom finished up to third grade and my dad, my dad did up to sixth grade. You know, you probably won't let me you probably won't let me talk to you about this right now. They're like, Hey, you know, there are other things that it brings to the table too. It's like, even though the education is not that high, but the way they buy. It's very holistic.
It's very, Hey, you can do anything you want. Don't let you, you know, and I love your hustler mentality. Like you paid for yourself during, in college. Amazing. Right? Yeah. Used to, we hear about from my people we look up to and you're one of the guys you look up to.
Maggie: [00:07:34] It requires a lot of grit and a lot of hustles, so that's yeah, I can really appreciate that.
Bryan: [00:07:41] And the one thing I also know is it's like, You know the way you're running your business right now, right? You draw upon every single experience you ever had in your life to run this company. Whenever you're back this wall, you're like, Hey, manage 50 plus people in my restaurant before I met these 50 students, this is doable. I've done this before, I did much more with so little money. I did so much with so little knowledge.
Desmond: [00:08:09] It's true.
Bryan: [00:08:09] If you have the knowledge and the credential, you went to Harvard. Yeah.
Desmond: [00:08:17] Yeah, no, that's so great, thank you so much for sharing that. So, and maybe I will just share a bit more then. So after I ran my business. I sold it my senior year and I went out to work and actually finance. I was at this Merrill Lynch for three years back in Singapore.
And I save up for those three years so that I could come to the US for school. I always had this dream and hope that, Hey, I'm going to come to the US to try and start this distance year. Yeah, because there's so much more I can learn. Right. So of the three years of this Merrill, I came to the US in 2007 and I'm gonna say that the years from 2013 to 2016, when I was back in Boston, were the three years that I really, so-called, I would say so-called really pushed the hardest in terms of trying to actually hustle and try to save money. I pretty much went to school without spending so much money because I look as this RA at school.
So I was always living at this MIT frat house. And they gave me a room and bought, which is great. So I've put in, I have a place to stay. And then I managed to get this half, half scholar straight from the school. So I paid for it the other half with my own savings. I managed to find a place at school where I can work, where I can run my XG actually P from.
So it is quite Harvard in no visions app. So it was really great to be based at. I got a free bike from my friend and I can actually cycle to a pro-school. Hmm. Yeah, so it was really great. I, I really had a really good set up such that even after when I finished school, I was able to have some like savings to work on my current business.
So, I feel like there's always all this news about how you really have to hustle. You really have to go into debt. You're trying to start your own business. I think that is not real. I think people should actually think about how can you create enough cushion and these savings so that when you come out to do your own business, you don't get scared.
Yeah. Yup. Yup. Yeah. So that was really why that throughout school. And then I moved out to the Bay area in 2016. I'm about to Palo Alto because my wife, she was based there. She was going to school at a business school. I came up to be with her and I've been there since and working on my current company since late 2017.
Now we are a team of about 40 people. Most of our teammates are in the Bay Area, but we were there a few based in Singapore, China, but maybe it's based in the U S. So yeah.
Maggie: [00:11:12] What was your thought process, you know, moving to San Francisco, you know, coming from Singapore, a whole new place, what was your, what were your thoughts just moving?
Did you know exactly what you were going to do when you moved here? Or, you know, were you kind of just in the process of meeting new people and like, you know, deciding what you wanted to do, deciding you know, how you wanted to start your business? Yeah, that's a good question, Maggie. So I first came on to the bay area in 2007 for this school trip when I was here in freshman year.
So there was more than 13 years ago. So I'm very old. I came to Dan. One month-long trip. We, we went to about eight to nine companies like Apple, Google, and mall. And I think that treat when I was still in school, that that really changed my mind. I always had this thinking that I have to come back here someday to kind of start my own business.
So I think there was always a dream that I had for more than like 10 over the years. But I knew that things don't just happen overnight, right? I mean, I think that there's kind of the one single advice that I love to share is that people have to learn to be patient. Trying to build something, it takes time, right?
You need to be really focused and work on something for quite some time. It can be months and years and some five to 10 years. Right. So I think I was just really focused on that. So when the chance came for me to move out here, I was just very clear that I should come out here. And one fun fact was that I feel very thankful because even though I only went to school at Harvard, but in my first six years in the US I, I was staying in a tree in tree gum rooms.
The first two years were at Harvard. This was at MIT because I was, I was doing it as this RA. And when I came up through the Barrett, 2016, my wife, she was going through. School. Yeah, there's a STEM thing. So as a spouse, I was. I went in and took about 10, all the classes for free. Yeah, because just walk into the class and my wife, she will write to the province, say, Hey, can my spouse, sit in the class, handle the classes for free.
And I learned so much, my wife always jokes that I know even more folks than, huh. I had time, right. She was at school. I have free time and I was just all this and this school cafe, I'm trying to meet with people at the chat. So, some people may think, Hey, it is not right for you to do so, but, I felt fine because I was able to create value for my PSN friends.
Yeah. And, yeah, some of the classes I even did better than my wife and she was not very happy.
Bryan: [00:14:13] Sure. We edit that part out.
Yeah. I mean, again, really, really good points. I think you mentioned that you'd really have to enjoy the process, you know? I think that nowadays we see a lot of situations where people are watching too many movies and they're like, Oh man, like I can totally be successful overnight. That's not the case of the law.
Like you have to continually be focused to have a lot of patience like you said, and really enjoy the process. It's gonna take a long time for your vision into reality, you know? Yeah. And that plays into the passion part too. Like how passionate about you. About the subject.
Like can you feel the same way about it every single morning for the next three to five years?
And you have to ask yourself that question, you know, and I like how, you know, you spend your time really well. Like you knew for the fact that your wife is at Stanford graduates, graduate school, and you knew the kind of value that it could bring you guys as not just for your wife, but for you, yourself, you know, you're like, okay instead of just sitting at home and do whatever, you're, you're attending classes with your wife and you're finding value from it. So whatever return you got from those classes is infinite because you never paid any for it.
Desmond: [00:15:27] Yeah. Yeah, it was. Yeah, it was great. It was key. Very good. And even for my current idea, it actually came out from some of those classes that I told that there was a class it's called up, Rach. I mean, I think to stop such as Google dash and still fight it all came out from that class. During that class that I. Came out with, with, with, with this idea with my team. So.
Bryan: [00:15:58] That's extremely valuable too. It's like you never let a minute go by. You know, without... I think resonates with a lot of people in the Asian hustle network too. It's like all people always think that the opportunities are never coming my way. Like I don't have enough left. I'm not smart enough. I can't do this. I can't do that. But opportunities are never limited. Only your mind is, you know. As you know your mind more. You make something
happen. Yes. And you go work, you talk to people that expands your horizon.
Desmond: [00:16:32] Yeah. Guys definitely actually share more. When I first came off to start my current company Workstream, I must have a pitch about 50, 60 companies before the first one to say yes. I actually went door to door on the street, this actually Palo Alto, and I just went through every single shop and try to pop that. Hey, I would love to ask you a few simple questions about your current hiring process. And I really just went door to door and people say no, but it was one that said yes.
Bryan: [00:17:07] All you need is one yes.
Desmond: [00:17:09] Yes.
Bryan: [00:17:12] I love it. I love the hustle mentality you always had. You know, and the fact that they're kind of reminds me of, you know, me and Maggie too, we're hustling, we're a little bit shameless. Like we don't care what people think about us. All we have to do is succeed. You know, that's the only way there's hustle and there are consistency and patience.
But the missing ingredient is grit. You have to push through no matter how many, how much force pushes back. Yeah. That's that's yeah. I mean, that's an amazing story. And having you come from Singapore to Boston, to Harvard MIT, to here to sitting in classes, Stanford, getting ideas, you know, what is this trying to show you?
I love this story so much, you know?
Desmond: [00:18:12] Thank you. Thank you so much.
Bryan: [00:18:15] And then let's dive into Workstream too. Like we want to hear more about it. Like we know for a fact that you know, listen to all your previous speeches. It's a $370 billion industry.
And you're using AI-driven platform to predict like the best matches for roles. Like that's crazy. Like this interview that we watched was in 2018. So you want to see how the platform has changed, adapted, and has grown over the years.
Desmond: [00:18:47] Yeah, of course. Thank you so much. Yeah. So, so I think what we are working on is this AI-driven hiring self-aware that is rebuilt for.
Companies hiring hourly workers. We work with a wide range of clients from restaurants, hotels, healthcare, supermarkets, and more. the truth is, about 60% of all people who work in the US they are hourly workers. It's a very big space. There were about 80 million of them. So, but that's been a ton of stuff I've built for people who work, not in this role.
I mean, most of us today are built for people who work in this office. I've built for people who work in tech, think about stuff like zoom, Slack, Workday. So as far as, I mean, do you think someone who runs a chain of these cafes will want to use your software? They could, but it is not built for them.
So we see there's a huge gap in consult software built for nonoffice workers. We call it the main bottle of people in this space. Right? So, all of our current workflows is via texting. Everything is all built on a phone, is a sort of, a lot of this automation in our software that can help you save your time.
Right? So that is really what we are doing, trying to use tax day, mobile workflows and this AI to source for more people and to be able to screen and to onboard people faster. Today, we went with a few hundred brands from Jamba Juice, Subway, Marriott, F1, patient, and, and all. So, we showed you have a pretty broad base of these clients that we now work with.
Maggie: [00:20:35] Yeah. Well, I think that's amazing. I think that's really prevalent because, you know, with text messaging that removes the onus from the employer, right. Because, you know, employers may forget to follow up with the employee and to maybe, well, you forget to get back to the employer, you know, and just having that AI and just having like the text message just automatically sent out to the candidates.
I think that removes a lot of the burden that is involved in hiring processes.
Bryan: [00:21:04] Yeah. And not just that too, you're creating a larger audience. I think this, I think, as you mentioned, when your speeches before, like everyone, uses their phone, not everyone uses the computer, you know, access to a computer which has access internet and a website.
I think essentially what you're doing inherently is you're targeting a larger work base who may or may not speak English that well.
Desmond: [00:21:30] Yep. That's true.
Bryan: [00:21:31] That's extremely valuable, especially given the COVID-19 stoic situation that we're all seeing application is extremely essential for most people to be able to become employed now on the next job.
And, you know, we definitely want to do our part to make sure we promote your business too. Our meeting, as our podcast, Asian Hustle Network is currently almost at 50,000 members, you know?
Desmond: [00:21:58] Nice.
Bryan: [00:21:59] Push that through and really get more people to understand the power of workstream.
Desmond: [00:22:03] Yeah. Awesome.
Thank you so much.
Bryan: [00:22:06] Yeah, that's, that's really our goal too. And as you mentioned before, this is a $370 billion industry that you're targeting. You know, and the gate, the way that you guys are rapidly moving, it's really quick, right? Just looking at your seed investments and, you know, going to your venture capitalist funds and raising that. That's amazing. No, it's so fast.
Because I am involved with the angel investing side of time in the Bay area. I have seen, like, I see your work. I see everything that you do. So very impressed by that. So you have a lot of people inside the Asian hustle network that definitely want to learn about this process.
So, will you kind of walk us through your story too? Like when you first started workstream. Oh, what was the idea like? What's a prototype live before you raise your first seed investment because you have some really big seed investors Justin Kan and you know, all the Asian mafias, you know.
Desmond: [00:23:08] Yeah. Thank you so much. So, when people think about trying to build software startups, they always think about, Hey, I need to go in and hire a team of... so I'll find people to build their first version of the software. So people think that I have to spend so much money. The truth is it is not true. There are actually many ways that you can pass, but if people have a real need for what you take off, I think I always tell other think about what is your MVP, right?
If you are trying to sell something online, maybe are trying and trying to sell clips and you want to do this online software, but just have a simple kind of form. I'll have a simple landing page where people can email or like text, you think about what is the so-called cheapest price. Then you can try to start off because the main thing is you have to test whether people actually want to buy one half.
Right. If you go and spend six months to hire a team of five software people who built your software and you call it that to ask it, and people will say, Hey, this is not why one. Then you have to go back to change everything. And it is not just money. It is time, right? So what is the least amount of work you can do to come up with something to test?
And, and you can test things in several ways, one way is thinking about why don't people are actually willing, able to pay for what you have to give? That is the test, right? If they have yours, it's not a pit thing you can think about. Whether people are open to give you the email, right.
Is some kind of value. If people are open to give you that email if people are able to give you that time, all those are treatments that people have a real need for what you are trying to go. So I think. That was really wide that early on, I went out to talk to a few hundred clients trying to learn about, why that pinpoint is trying to watch how they hire people.
I found that many of them would use Google sheets, email, and law to manage hiring, which was fairly manual. So me and my teammates, we came out with these wireframes and maybe about four to five days. So they use sketch as free software to come out with these wireframes. And next, I use these wireframes with no code at all, to show it to these clients and say, Hey, this is what we drew up.
If you click on this button, you will lead to this other frame. Tell me what you think. So this was phase two. So phase one, phase two. And after this, feedback, I must have done this at least like five to seven times to try and get more feedback prior to me and my teammate, we brought up the very first version of the software.
And then we had our first pick client in a few weeks after. So that was reviewed the whole flow of us coming out with the very first version of the software. When I went on to raise my first round of funding, I have some peaks that I can share. And if any other members I can through talk to me about trying to raise funding, I'll be very glad to like, share more because I think trying to raise funding, that is a lot of art and science.
But when I want to raise something, I think I had about 10 paying clients. So, not that much. And sometimes I tell the fondness that if you're running a software company, sometimes it's better to not have so many clients when you call it the ratio, a trial of this finding, because when you have 40 clients or so it's not so much, but it is, it's not low.
People would almost have to track your growth, which is very hard, right? Because you'll call this always have your, your cup always has to be up. Right. But when you haven't launched yet, you have some paying clients, but you have a strong team. You have a strong market product, you can sell them off, like what things can be right? So that was how we raised our very first round of funding. And after that, since then we have scaled through a few hundred clients. So yeah.
Bryan: [00:27:28] That's really cool. And for our listeners that don't know what MVP is, the minimal viable product. So that's the model where you, before you build anything, you want to see if it works like Desmond said, before you dedicate a lot of time, money, resources to this, you want to see this as a product that your customer even wants.
And a lot of good points too, that you really understood your pain points, the customer pain points. That's, that's great. The indicator of a good founder, you know, if they came to you, you didn't know what the pain points were, and then that might have an issue if I was gonna invest inside you.
Maggie: [00:28:04] Because like you mentioned, you know, a lot of these companies that have mostly hourly workers, for example, like restaurants, you know, it's very hard for them to see why they need to integrate software, right. When they could just like out to the candidate, you know, in-person by phone. So I was wondering like, how would you go, how did you go about, you know, proposing that idea to them and like making them understand, you know, how to fill the void and fill the gap and, you know, make them understand this is something that could really improve their processes and hiring candidates, you know, even before you showed them the software, even before you show them the demo, how were you able to, you know, Convinced them that this is like something that could really improve your processes?
Desmond: [00:28:52] One thing that we often do is always love to ask open-ended questions. I'm trying to ask them, Hey, tell me more about your current hiring process? Tell me what you wish could be better. Right? People always wished something could be better. What are some things that you love about the way that you do things that were some things that you really don't like? Probably so by asking such open-ended questions, it really served me well, because the client who I talked to, he or she would actually share some of the lights and pains that she has. Right? Because there are always things that you wish could be better.
All right. And so there's one thing that I do. The second thing that I did in the very early days, which it's much harder to do now is to go and watch how they do it. If I could stand right next to them and see how they do things. For example, if you think about, trying to book travel in the past, people always say, Oh, I love the book, travel. It is so fun, but when you see someone do it on, on an [inaudible], she spends like two hours trying to go on to 10 of the sites. And she's thinking I'll find a good way at a good price. You already know that she actually doesn't like it so much. She thinks she actually likes it. Right? So this is the same case for hiring. People may say that, Hey, no, I love to go to every person, to call every single one. But when you actually watched them face to face, it is very different.
So what someone thinks and what someone does is very different. Many times people, even me, I, I think we are [inaudible]. We think that we do, but we don't.
Maggie: [00:30:43] Very true. That's similar to like a lot of companies who, you know, follow their own processes and they think that their processes are perfect, you know because they don't see it from a third-person perspective.
But when you have a third party person go and, you know, see how you work. You can see, you know, like, Oh, I can see there are definitely voids in the processes. There are definitely gaps in the process.
Bryan: [00:31:04] Yeah. And most of the time when you're presenting a new idea, sometimes the customer doesn't even know everything about the product.
Desmond: [00:31:11] Yes.
Bryan: [00:31:12] You know, even we're guilty of that too. Our day to day routine, we don't like to change our day to day routine. You know, like we make one adjustment that totally improves the entire process. Like, dude, when did we do this before? It was amazing.
[inaudible], you know, like you had to like show them that we need this product, but their life would be improved by it. That's something that we'll see use it. They can't live without it.
Desmond: [00:31:37] Yeah.
Bryan: [00:31:39] That's really cool. And then you mentioned that you know, you're wireframing too. And I think most people, especially early entrepreneurs would be like, or tech entrepreneurs would be like, Hey, I need a working demo.
I need my code to work. I need this not to work. Otherwise, people will never invest in me. And here you are telling us you don't need natural products yet. You need good wireframing, you know, and wireframing can be done. Your PowerPoint slides too is that you have to just show where the redirect buttons are and what they do.
Desmond: [00:32:14] Yup. Yup.
Bryan: [00:32:16] Of course. You'd be more fancy. You hire a software engineer to do it.
Desmond: [00:32:20] It will cost so much more money and pine, right? I'll even say that time, it is almost more key than cash, right? Cause if you get someone to spend an extra three to six months to build a software and is wrong, right, and you have to call back to rebuild everything again. So people always think about money, but time is very very key to it.
Bryan: [00:32:44] Yeah. Earlier you brought up a really good point that. You know, I think most of the perception of tech companies in the Bay area, it's like, we raise a lot of money and then we burned it all really quickly. That's I mean, you read a lot of articles about other companies or more well known, and then you see stuff happening too. Like WeWork and you're like, wow. I just told me it grew too fast. What a strong financial model. And what you brought up earlier is a really good point because you don't have to grow. Quickly what the expense of picking more debt, you now. Cause that's a dangerous move, especially COVID-19, and the fact that you're overly leveraged and you don't find a way to sustain yourself with a profitable margin, you're going to seem really quickly.
Desmond: [00:33:33] Yeah, no, no, that is very, very true. That is very, I, I think me and my daughter found out max and Dave when we first launched the company, we all didn't get paid for the first. Six months. We were just trying to, make sure that this works first. We didn't care about paying all the self-understanding, help us do focus.
Bryan: [00:33:53] Yeah. Yeah. I really, I really liked that that financial model is super, super smart by the way. No, thank you. Oh, you guys are progressing and growing.
Desmond: [00:34:04] Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you so much. And I think that is a good plan and it is hard and trends would see that many people are actually used to hire, even though I would say like, Restaurants hotels, the hiring last that if you look at other sectors like, you know, supermarkets, healthcare, companies hiring drivers, those are still hiring quite a bit.
Maggie: [00:34:25] And I think in the coming weeks and months, many of these businesses, they are not trying to prep through. We open. So that is something that we are very keen to be helpful to teams try to open up. Yeah. And speaking of COVID-19, I know, you know, much of the inspiration behind workstream was, you know, unemployment rates were very low and now the unemployment rates are, you know, increasing at this time, how do you think the hiring processes for a lot of companies are changing? I know a lot of people are trying to come out with, you know, ideas and ways to make hiring processes, you know, much faster for, you know, people who have lost their jobs. How do you think from your own perspective, the hiring processes have changed now due to covid19?
Desmond: [00:35:11] Yeah. Yeah. I think that's one of the strengths of our software. Right. Being able to help people, they get high at faster sometimes in the same days, if not, and just a few days, just because of our software, trying to use text-based hiring software. That's the very first point. The second point is yes. I think there's much more people trying to look for jobs.
Maybe more on job seekers, jobs for the moment. But from the point of view of these businesses, it will always be key to be able to find people who have cut to people who lying with this job school. [inaudible] It helps you to screen people quickly drops off value. You can create quizzes and [inaudible] through our software.
You can get people through self-schedule for a time to come and to meet with you. You can handle all of your paperwork [inaudible] back on checks. All those can be done through our software, through to phone by people can sign with fingers from the phone. Wow. Yeah. So all this really ends to end.
Every single step is all done via the phone. So that is really going to save time. Right. and I think that point I have to make is all the stuff that helps you to practice this contact list hiring. So you can, you don't have to meet them to screen them and to get into sign paperwork. So all those can be done from home.
So you run much less than the risk of having to meet them face to face.
Maggie: [00:36:53] Right, right.
Bryan: [00:36:54] Yeah. Absolutely love that pivot to, you know, like you are definitely pivoting you're readjusting, you're adapting.
Maggie: [00:37:01] Yeah.
Bryan: [00:37:02] So at what point, when you were raising your seed money, that you realized that you should hire your first employee? Cause it seems like you guys moved the lightspeed, you know, like two and a half years, three that's fast. Realize you need to hire that first employee. And once you realize that you really have to grow and hire 40 employees.
Desmond: [00:37:23] Yeah. Yeah. I think if there are two people, we hire at one with someone to do UI UX to do design because I found that even though I could draw some of these wireframes, but someone else could probably draw it better than me. So, we definitely found someone to draw that. Then next we hired two more software engineers to work with one of my founders to really have built this off faster. So you will see the trends of these software companies that are in the, in the early days. I would say for the first five to 10 hires, it is almost going to be focused around products like UI UX design.
Sells lamb juniors, and you'll probably have one to 2%, probably one of the farmers who would actually sell first. And that was really my role. I closed the first hundred clients for us on my own. I was jumping along with zoom calls, just I guess maybe about a shelf that didn't call us, like, just like this every single day, which was about half an hour or more.
And I would show their software than what she would do. It's always doing that for almost six to nine months. Like every day is having back to back costs. And that was how I closed the first hundred clients plus. So I would say those were the early days of how we, how we were able to push things through.
Bryan: [00:38:47] Wow. That's amazing. You know, like, and now you secure your financial models then from there you went to venture capitalist money, right?
Desmond: [00:38:55] Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's true. That's true. Yeah.
Bryan: [00:39:00] For our listeners that they have to know that things start. In order, you know, we're just going to go straight to venture capitalists money.
Desmond: [00:39:09] Yeah. Yeah. I never liked to come on through raise funding. I always think of like, when you do want to raise funding is when they will come off the year. Right. All my fundraising flows have been finished in about two to three weeks. So it was all quite quick, but I would eat pack every single day, very tight.
Right. I must have pitched at least like 30 to 40 people, but it'll all very pack the backside, I was able to create like four more when I was out to raise funding. Right. I was saying, Hey, I have this creative fallback when I'll do raise funding. So I was very clear about that. So that was very helpful.
But you shouldn't go out to find reviews for the purpose of, Hey, let's raise funding first so that I have the money to build something I didn't get it's not the right order to come up with something that has some value, has a few paying clients and that people can see that, Hey, there's some value there. Yeah, then people would see it.
Bryan: [00:40:15] Okay. Well, that's, that's really cool to hear that, too. And some of the questions that we get when an Asian also network is, when people start raising money, they're not sure how involved they want their early investors to be.
How have you dealt with this problem? You know, like, I don't know, for a fact that you're starting out with an idea, you bring it on angel investors, they always have something to say about the product. How have you dealt with that situation before?
Desmond: [00:40:40] Yeah, I've been quite lucky on, we really took care to choose the right fit of people who could be there when we wanted to help. So people have been generally quite hands-off, but when we have things to ask, they will be deaf lost. So I think you should be very, careful on who you choose to partner with that is very key, right? Because once they are in your [inaudible] they type of change. So on my end, what I do is every month I would send out, one actually, you know, to audit funds and to all the NGOs who have actually give me money, I was sending it out at the end of the month.
And that has worked very well for me in terms of this is a very strict monthly preface with all my clear matrix product launch, product changes, and team and the highest. So I will do that every single month with a very fixed structure on the same day. Because it is very tough when you do jump on calls with everyone.
Because if you do that every other month, you have no time to do the real work. Right. So that was what I've been doing now for the past two years. And it's been going well. So.
Bryan: [00:41:51] That's a really good point you bring it up to you because I think when you're an early entrepreneur, if someone offers you money, like yeah, I’ll take it.
But you really have to find your fit. You know, like this person will be with you for a long time and you really want that chemistry too. It's not just the chemistry with the co-founders, that's chemistry with your early investors too, because having a good relationship with them can mean the world to like the next level. You're constantly arguing with your angel investor and you're in trouble. Yeah.
So yeah. I just want to bring the tip out to all the Asian Hustle Network. People listening, you know, like throwing stuff, the first hole or cash comes your way.
Desmond: [00:42:40] Yes, no, I think that is sure. Very good point. Yeah.
Bryan: [00:42:44] Yeah. I mean, we're nearing the end of the podcast. We're extremely, extremely excited to have you here and learn so much about your journey.
Desmond: [00:42:54] Thank you.
Bryan: [00:42:55] So what's the next step? Like what, where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years from now?
Maggie: [00:42:59] And what are your goals for Workstream?
Desmond: [00:43:02] Yeah, I think we are still very early. To be honest, we rescued very early.
There's just so much for us to learn. I, I really believe in all the team's mission, right. This morning, an 80-minute hourly box in the US and what I want to do billing hourly workers is a really huge space, and there's just not enough solver built to sell them better. Right. So we, we are really on this very strong focus and a very strong mission to help them to be able to not justify work better but to manage the current workflows better too.
So that is really what we really hope to do. Try to try to start from the US and try to create impact and change people local businesses - restaurants, hotels, healthcare companies, and law, but it also creates change for many of those quality folks.
If you asked me five to 10 years, I hope to be able to assist you beyond this mission. I'm trying to bring it back. They're actually what like, you know, Bryan was trying to share early on. I think it is very key to find something that really few strongly about, I often tell folks that I was really lucky and the age of seven, I found my first love, basketball.
So I've been playing ball from when I was seven until I was about 25. Maybe it went to, I was about 24 then I think for the next four to five years, I was very lost too, to be very honest. I was trying to find out once my next left cause I was really old, so I can't keep playing sports. Right. So I spent the next four to five years really trying to figure out what to do.
I work for many people for free. I talked to many people, one on ones, coffee chat. I just work for free for folks too. But through that three to four year or five years, I really find out why we want to do so. I've been trying to build my current company for the past three years. And I feel very thankful to share the [inaudible]. Something that I few I can do, but it makes five, 10, 20 years, and more so. Yeah.
Maggie: [00:45:23] Wow.
Bryan: [00:45:24] That sounds really, really awesome.
Maggie: [00:45:26] I know. Yeah. And not a lot of people can say that you know? Yeah.
Bryan: [00:45:33] It's a journey you're going to have your highs and your lows. You're not, you're going to... It's really, really normal to feel lost, you know, like and being lost can be defined in two different ways. You can take it the bad away. You can take it the good way. You know, you can take it as a way to reinvent yourself. Just figure out what is your true passion. Sometimes it's just the universe putting you in the right path.
Desmond: [00:45:56] Yeah. Yes. That's very true.
Bryan: [00:45:59] You have to believe that that's sometimes that's the case, you know like you have to look back and be like, Whoa, I'm so glad I was lost in that time because if it was not lost, I wouldn't have met this person.
Maggie: [00:46:11] It varies with every person. You know, some people find their passion when they're seven years old or some people find their passion when they're 40 or 50, you know, that's like, it really depends. It's everyone who has their own journey. Everyone has their own path.
Bryan: [00:46:26] There's no, there are no apples to apples. You take life from your own journey or your own pace, wherever you feel comfortable. Cause you realize like as soon as you move at a pace that you're not comfortable when you make a lot of mistakes, you know. Each year she thinks he wants to achieve and then he creates a sense of unhappiness because you're not doing things the way you should be doing it, you know, your case.
I mean, we're super excited and really happy to have you here, the Asian Hustle Network podcast.
Thank you so much for your time.
Maggie: [00:46:58] And then we just wanted to ask one more question for all of our listeners of the Asian Hustle network podcast.
You know, what is one message that you want to share with all of our listeners? One message that you want to share with everyone? You know, just you know, your go-to message for everyone listening to this podcast.
Bryan: [00:47:17] And how can they reach you?
Desmond: [00:47:19] Yeah. Yeah. People can just, yeah, yeah. Yeah. People can always just email me Desmond@workstream.is.
So people can always just email me. Or come to Facebook to find me.
In terms of the message. I think what I always love to think about is what the mind can conceive and like believe it can achieve, right? So those guys like my so-called slogan that I had since young. Yeah. So I would just love to live this with the group.
Maggie: [00:47:49] It's amazing.
Bryan: [00:47:50] It's amazing. Thank you so much again.
Desmond: [00:47:52] Thank you so much.
Outro: [00:47:55] Hey guys, we hope you enjoy this episode. Please subscribe to the show.
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