JobForesight, a startup that provides comprehensive careers information for students, has become the first Singapore-based venture to emerge from Oxford University Innovation’s startup incubator and launched Careershe, a career advice app.
Careershe, whose flagship product is a smartphone app that offers structured and transparent content about different occupations, was founded by Singaporean Oxford MBA graduate Steve Xie.
Developed during Xie’s MBA at Saïd Business School and with the help of Oxford University Innovation (OUI) – the University’s technology transfer arm — the app is initially being aimed at students in China.
Xie said: ‘The problem we are trying to solve is the lack of information available for young people about the types of career they can pursue. We can help them better understand what it’s like to be a lawyer, or a blockchain engineer, or to work in AI. Careershe offers a one-stop shop for students who lack access to high-quality career guidance.’
According to a study by the higher education consultancy MyCOS, nearly a third of graduates in China leave their first job within the first six months — almost 2 million students yearly. The current lack of career education provision in China, and its transition towards high-value industries, made it the ideal market, in Xie’s view, for the Careershe app.
Xie, who completed a degree in electrical engineering at the National University of Singapore before joining the building materials industry, has drawn on personal experience for this venture. He said: ‘The biggest problem was that I did not have a clue about what an electrical engineer actually does until the later stages of my degree course. Had I known about the potential career outcomes, I would probably have taken a different academic direction altogether.’
Co-founder Eddie Chng, a Singaporean businessman who is the CEO of the security technology company DiSa Digital Safety Pte Ltd, said: ‘The main reason I invested into this idea is because I have seen the human capital growth that has taken place in Singapore since the 1990s. This is exactly what is happening now in China, except that people in China are even hungrier for growth and progression.’
Guangdong-based Careershe helps students aged between 15 and 25 learn more about the world of work, providing them with guidance in the available pathways towards their desired careers. Valuable content such as required qualifications, typical working hours, likely salaries, and career progression can be found in the app.
Xie added: ‘One notable feature of Careershe is our plan to embed big data and artificial intelligence technology in the product, which will help us provide better recommendations for our users. We currently have around 5,000 registered users, and the early feedback — particularly from teachers — has been positive.’
Chandra Sekar Ramanujan is a Senior Licensing and Ventures Manager at OUI, whose incubator identifies promising student or staff-led startups and helps them to market. Ramanujan said: ‘We are very much attracted to Steve’s vision for Careershe, as well as the thought and market research that has gone into developing the idea. We have supported Steve in validating his business model and connecting with Oxford University’s world-leading academic resources — notably in big data and AI. At this time we are particularly interested in promoting ventures and partnerships overseas.’
Careershe is the first overseas-based project arising from its software incubator in which OUI will take a shareholding stake. Having built the product, launched to market and gleaned insights from users over the past year, the company is now focused on raising funds from investors and seeking partnerships — for example, with schools in China.
Within China, Careershe is affiliated with the TusStar startup incubator programme. Xie said: ‘We are delighted to be working with TusStar, given the strong support it offers to startups and its widespread presence and connections throughout China, Singapore and the UK.’
Educational technology companies are well placed to support the emergence of online education solutions after COVID-19. Moreover, digitalization trends in the future of work are expected to accelerate given the recent proliferation of work from home. Xie added: ‘Careershe can be a beneficiary of these trends, as long as we continue to be nimble and ensure our career database stays relevant.’
The OUI startup incubator is led by Catherine Spence. The incubator is aimed at members and ex-members of the University of Oxford. Spence said: ‘The OUI startup incubator was set up to support non-traditional Oxford projects. Careershe certainly fits that mould — breaking new ground and bringing further diversity into our portfolio.’