The “gig” economy is expanding in Hong Kong as employees in the city are seeking greater control over their working hours while employers want more flexibility in their hiring arrangements.Filling this new niche, Jobdoh – an end-to-end human resources platform catering mainly, but not exclusively, for short-term contracts – is growing fast in Hong Kong and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.“In the United States and United Kingdom, half of companies hire staff on a gig basis,” Jobdoh Co-founder and CEO Xania Wong noted. Hong Kong had not reached this level yet but the market was growing quickly, she added. Ms Wong previously founded Xantana Asia, a wine-solutions provider with its Wine2Go App. The food and beverage business is a big user of gig workers, so moving on to create Jobdoh carried synergy, she said.Jobdoh caters for a wide variety of businesses but market research, sales and promotion, exhibitions and events, hospitality, personal assistants, small-scale logistics, creatives (such as acting and photography) and beauty are leading employers. Of these, hospitality and event promotion are stable but other sectors are growing, according to Ms Wong. Jobdoh is a business to business (B2B) solution with the clients generally being large-scale employers who had flexible staff needs.
The employment marketplace solution runs on an artificial intelligence (AI) basis, Ms Wong said. As the system gathered more data on employers’ requirements and employees’ abilities, the matchmaking capabilities improved and expanded.
Exhibitors at shows and exhibitions such as those organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) are important clients and Jobdoh allows them to pre-book assistants and interpreters for exhibition stalls – or book them on the fly, Ms Wong said. “Our record is to provide an employee within 30 minutes.”Ms Wong attends shows and exhibitions and has spoken at the HKTDC’s Entrepreneur Day. She said start-ups can benefit from attending events but need to select one that suits their needs – they have different priorities at different stages. The support a start-up needs when starting out is different to the requirements at the scaling stage, where Jobdoh is at present.One area Jobdoh is expanding into is payroll management. The firm will soon launch a fintech solution, which helps employers manage payroll cash flow, in Myanmar, one of the ASEAN countries Jobdoh is active in. Factories in rapidly industrialising Myanmar are set to make use of the solution, which is still at a pilot stage. The company’s second office is in Myanmar.
Jobdoh has won several awards and participated in various incubation programmes – including winning Google’s Empowering Young Entrepreneurs’ Competition and being an incubatee in the Hong Kong Government Cyberport Program in 2015. Jobdoh is also participating in Dubai’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme, which seeks to boost innovative start-ups. Application is open to start-ups – including those in Hong Kong – until 15 September.Ms Wong said such awards and programmes were useful for start-ups building brands and credibility, but their priority should be to expand the customer base.Ms Wong said ASEAN markets had good potential – with one of its clients being the Myanmar Ministry of Education which uses the firm’s solutions to source internships and graduate employment – but the firm would go where clients were interested. Jobdoh has drawn interest from as far afield as Canada and Austria.In addition to gig marketplace and pilot fintech solutions, Jobdoh also offers “white-label” solutions – where a client sets up its own recruitment site using Jobdoh’s AI technology – which have drawn interest from Saudi Arabia. Not being confined to local gig placement, Hong Kong employers have used Jobdoh to source staff from ASEAN countries such as Malaysia. The company also operates in Mainland China and Taiwan.