Helpster, a Bangkok-based company that matches employers with people seeking blue-collar jobs, has banked $2.1 million to expand across Southeast Asia.
The funding, which was led by Jakarta-based Convergence Ventures with participation from Wavemaker Partners, will help the startup grow its position in the Indonesian market, which it recently entered. It will also go toward increasing its presence on home-soil in Thailand, where the majority of its 35 staff are based.
Helpster was founded in January 2016 by Matthew Ward (CEO) and John Srivorakul (CTO). Both have been involved in startups for some time. Srivorakul founded Admax (sold to Komli) and Ensogo (sold to LivingSocial), and was involved with now-defunct investment firm Ardent Capital and logistics startup aCommerce, where his brother Paul is CEO. Ward was previously CEO of Admax.
The service is similar to CornerJob in Europe, which has raised $35 million from investors this year, in that it helps companies seeking blue-collar workers to find candidates, both in temporary and full-time roles. The industries served by Helpster include food and beverage, warehouse, hospitality, customer service and retail among others.
Ward and Srivorakul estimate that the industry in Southeast Asia has around 100 million workers and is worth in the region of $200 billion per year in wages. Smartphones are the preeminent internet platform in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, where device sales are increasing despite a global slowdown, which is giving rise to new opportunities for business and work.
Already, a glut of companies offering to connect consumer with local services — such as plumbers and cleaners — have sprung up across Southeast Asia, including Kaodim (raised $4 million), ServisHero ($2.7 million) and RecomN ($1 million). Helpster is hoping that it can capitalize on similar dynamics to disrupt the employment sector.
“We started Helpster after speaking with many businesses in [the services industry] who still cite hiring and staffing as their biggest pain point in running their business,” Ward said in a statement. “They were looking for a solution that enabled them to tap into the large labour supply quickly and cost efficiently, and traditional methods such as job boards or agencies weren’t fast enough and just didn’t deliver the quality of workers they required.”