First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Christiaan van den Berg: We are doing relatively well, despite the uncertainty and stress, it is always interesting and exciting to see how society adapts. Where things slowed down and remote working created space for more family take, which was amazing, everything has picked up in a kind of catch-up way, and the intensity is straining but enjoyable.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded JOBJACK.
Christiaan van den Berg: Both myself and my co-founder, Heine Bellingan, are Chartered Accountants and met while doing our auditing articles, where the idea of JOBJACK was born. I was helping a few friends that were still in university get some waitering jobs when it became apparent that there is a massive disconnect in underprivileged people looking for entry-level jobs and the companies that are providing those jobs. Both Heine and I have always had a passion for helping people, and so, by taking our knowledge of systems and efficiency and applying it to the problem at hand we set out to create JOBJACK – an online platform for entry-level jobs.
How does JOBJACK innovate?
Christiaan van den Berg: JOBJACK has created a solution for both job seekers and employers to seamlessly reach each other in a cost and time-effective way, through data-lite mobile access and guidance for a job seekers and efficient recruitment management software for employers. We also have a constant 3-week release of new features as we learn new ways to serve our clients – this knowledge is gained by weekly standup meetings with each department and in general to share knowledge.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Christiaan van den Berg: The pandemic hit us very hard as due to the lockdown all hiring for most companies were stopped and so our core function was frozen with complete uncertainty of when and if the business would be hiring anytime soon. Effectively all means of income was non-existent for almost 7 months. This gave us time to focus on our team culture and the technology that we build, which has been a massive help as we are experiencing major growth in these first few post-lockdown months in South Africa and have the cultural and tech foundation to handle it well.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Christiaan van den Berg: Very much – besides the tough choices of salary-cuts, we were also faced with the choices of which functions to focus on and how to pivot in a time where an entire society is uncertain of what the future will look. And even though in hindsight, one could look back and feel the time could have been spent on different projects, we are proud of the choices we made and the stability in which we approached them.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Christiaan van den Berg: Besides finding incredible rest and assurance in my faith as a Christian, I trail run in the mountains around Cape Town and have taken up surfing. We also play a quick hacky-sack game in the office once a day to release some stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Christiaan van den Berg: Considering the niche space we are in, we do not believe we have come across real competitors.
Your final thoughts?
Christiaan van den Berg: It is an honor to serve South Africa and its people, and we look forward to reaching our mission – Employ the World.
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