ACE Startup Feature – KOBE

Technology, Led by Talent

Influencer marketing startup Kobe may stand out with its AI-driven advertising platform but it is people who create outstanding business results. Founder Evangeline Leong shares how the SME Talent Programme for Startups has given her a leg up in getting the right people on-board.

Much of the work that Kobe does is centred on technology. It is a digital marketing business by definition and the campaigns that it runs for clients mainly leverage social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. The startup even has a patent-pending Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven advertising platform that uses algorithmic matching to find the best-fit social influencers for customers. But at the core of the business is still people, and the startup doesn’t forget it. Its name, Kobe, is a play on the Chinese term for ‘word of mouth’.

“Technology is definitely a boon for us. We developed our AI platform to remove subjectivity and add science into the process of selecting the right influencers for our customers. It also doubles up as a self-service platform for smaller accounts, allowing us to scale up our business while maintaining a lean team,” said Founder and Managing Director Evangline Leong.

“Hiring is a huge investment for us now. At under two years old and with little visibility into the future, we have to be prudent because of the resources needed to hire and train. We’ve had a great experience with the SME Talent Programme for Startups because it mitigates our recruitment risk and provides much-needed financial support,” she added.

Through the programme, Kobe has added three “super interns” to its team of 11 in sales, account management and engineering.

“The best part about the programme is that it is tailored for startups. The candidates we meet already have the right mindset — they understand that the startup world is one of change, and are prepared to learn, adapt and contribute,” Evangeline pointed out.

This is important to Evangeline, who says that her previous experience as a Business Director in a media agency taught her the importance of hiring for “calling, character and commitment”, rather than capabilities.

“You can’t afford to spoil your culture with the wrong people; that’s something you can’t fix. Hiring the right people is the first step. The next is dispelling power. By this, I mean letting your team make decisions and trusting in their judgement. When you do so, you’ll win their trust, responsibility and sense of ownership,” said Evangeline.

“We may be in the business of influencer marketing and have a pool of 3,500 social influencers, but I would say that the best influencers for any company are your own employees.”

To learn more about career opportunities with Kobe, click here.

Learn more about the SME Talent Programme for Startups and sign up here today! Students and startups are both welcome to apply. Eligible startups can look forward to a 70% subsidy on their intern’s stipend to help offset talent costs.

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