Young Singapore Ivy League dropouts attract $475,000 in funding for startup

SINGAPORE - Three young Singaporeans, who met at Hwa Chong Institution, have done what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates have famously done before - dropped out of their Ivy League universities to pursue their dream.

It's the stuff of many Singapore parents' nightmares.

Mr Oswald Yeo, Mr Seah Ying Cong and Mr Looi Qin En, all 21 years old, put their studies and scholarships on hold at the Wharton Business School and University of California, Berkeley, to help tackle the problems confronting the 75 million unemployed young people in the world.

But the enterprising trio have already secured $475,000 in seed money from venture capitalists and media agencies for their startup, Glints.

The seed round, which was in fact oversubscribed, was led by East Ventures and joined by 500 Startups, SPH Media Fund, Singapore Infocomm Investments (IIPL), 8 Capita, Pix Vine Capital and other private investors

So what is Glints?

It is a talent recruitment and matching platform which helps young people seek out skill sets required in different careers, and to match them with jobs, internships and courses that could cultivate those skills in demand.

"Companies can also look forward to an innovative recrutiing tool to hire the right talent easily and quickly on Glints," said the firm in a press release on Wednesday (Feb 11).

The three Glint founders were the youngest to go through a programme run by tech accelerator JFDI (Joyful Frog Digital Incubator), winning the confidence of firms such as SPH Media Fund and Singapore Infocomm Investments.

While the firm also performs headhunting functions for employers, payment is only needed when candidates are matched to firms successfully.

Glints said it already has over 7,000 students and 600 companies on its platform.

"We chose Glints because they are solving a pressing and global talent problem for our society," said Alex Lin, head of IIPL. "The injection of new funds will speed up their development and help them address the market globally."

Mr Willson Cuaca, managing partner at East Ventures, added that the young entrepreneurs continued to attract interest from investors after closing calls for financing. "The young and passionate team has shown market validation in such a short time since inception."

Mr Yeo, who is a co-founder of Glints said the "bold moves" made by the team, in a "conservative Asian culture" has attracted "a lot of societal and familiar pressure".

"We only did this because we have the opportunity to take on such a huge, global problem that we are passionate about solving. Most importantly, we are glad to have the opportunity to cross the gap between formal education and the real world sooner," said Mr Yeo.

Readers can visit Glints beta platform at www.glints.com.

ocheryl@sph.com.sg