Interview with Genie Staffing, a staffing app in Hong Kong

Interview with Mary Cheung, the founder of
Tell us about Genie Staffing. How did you come up with the idea ? 

GENIEstep1 2 3Our mobile app helps people find temporary staff in as quick as 5 minutes! Hiring a temp can be a long process (posting, asking around, back and forth calling, scheduling interviews… etc) and we make hiring at least 7x faster and at less that half the price of using agents.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy, you constantly have countless work to do and being efficient is a very important skill. I used to own a spa and I always needed temporary staff (receptionist, caterers, beauty therapist, masseurs, cleaners) because the turnover rate is high and hiring temps can be a good way to cut cost. Downside is hiring can take a long time, the new staff can be very unreliable, I made several bad hire decisions and really the last thing I wanted to receive are complaints from my clients. It was totally unacceptable and frustrating and as a busy business owner, I can’t afford more than 3 hours on hiring temporary or part time staff. I also don’t want to compromise on quality, and agencies were way too expensive and there were no good platform for temporary staff and my friends in event management also had the same issue.

Why is Genie Staffing needed? What makes you different from other recruitment companies? 

There’s a huge mismatch between employers’ and jobseekers’ expectations. Interviews can be equivalent to meeting your Tinder date for the first time and you waste another 20 mins on a bad fit. Our staff are RELIABLE! They are prescreened and verified through psychometric test, scheduled online interviews and a very solid review system. Other companies don’t have all of these. The interviews are especially useful for customer facing staff because employers can watch their self introductions (conducted in Cantonese, English and Mandarin) directly, allowing employers to assess candidates before even calling them.

Could you tell us about your strategy for launching and growing the company?

Every marketplace has a chicken and egg issue, solve that first. We started by growing jobseekers side first through online marketing and growth hacking. It works!

You made the choice of building only an app and not a website. Could you tell us the reason? 

Recruitement is about speed, especially when it comes to temporary staffing. Our platform is on demand, our quickest matching rate is now 5 minutes. Through an app, Genie Staffing can see jobs anytime anywhere through us. If we have a web platform, less people will receive notifications and that will delay the application time.

Congratulations on winning many awards this year; including Rise, Cocoon and Hong Kong Business! What are your expansions plans now ? 

Thank you. We plan to continue our growth at 30% MoM, reach 1M users by the end of 2016 and expand to 3 cities in South East Asia.

What were some of your biggest challenges in launching this business?

Biggest challenges… during our two months of launch, we had many issues such as no show, sick leave. As the platform was young, user loyalty was low, to improve this we made screening stricter and developed a backup staffing solution. There were many challenges, you just need to dig deep into the problems, solve them fast and streamline the solutions.

What is your most memorable moment so far?

My last birthday, Genie’s Staffing app was two months old, I got a last minute deal with an event by Virgin Atlantic. Matched and hired 7 staff in 40 minutes who all arrived at work in 1.5 hours (wearing black shirt, trousers and shoes). That was the first time we staffed in such a short time. BAM! My cofounders also found us a nice office space that day. It’s great to see that hard work is starting to get paid off. Best gift ever!

What do you think of Hong Kong’s Startup Scene? What’s good, what can be improved?

The Hong Kong government has been very supportive and that is great, the startup scene is growing very fast in HK.  However the community is still very small and inexperienced in comparison to Silicon Valley, I think startups should help each other, learn from each other, find opportunities to create synergy and grow together.

What are 3 things you want people to remember about Genie Staffing? 

Reliable. Efficient. Staffing.

Interview by Ludivine Taverne

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