I first met up with folks from Japanese startup Garbs at Echelon 2011 in Singapore. They launched a engineer-focused social network called Forkwell back in April of that year, and subsequently unveiled the service to a crowd at our weekly salon event.
At the time I thought it was an interesting idea, but I couldn’t help but feel there was something lacking — perhaps more monetization potential. In the last year, many similar services have launched, including Qiita, Wantedly, JobShare, Gunosy Career, and Grrefer. So Garbs has had to come up with a way for its service continue to attract new users.
On the Forkwell main site (for system developers) you can tag yourself with whatever skills you’ve acquired. Your profile will be automatically associated with your company’s profile, which is based on your own Facebook page (the service uses Facebook authentication). As a result, the service can qualitatively show you the details of practically any tech company or startup, in terms of what technological background its employees have. In short, you can see the company’s characteristics at a glance.
A company’s profile is linked to a job post on the job search engine. For developers, when you are searching for a new company to work with, you can base your choice not only on company profiles, but you can also factor in what kind of developers you’d like to work with. This is an intriguing way for workers in this field to very deliberately choose their own career path.
We heard from the startup’s co-founder and chief executive Yukihiro Ikemi, who explained more about this renewal:
When I heard the news last July that GitHub had raised $100 million, an idea came to me. They’ve acquired 3 million users worldwide. And in Japan, there are 550,000 programmers and 120,000 creators, so it’s a market that consists of about 670,000 people. So I made up my mind to have our service attract 30% of that (about 200,000 people).
Rails contributor Akira Matsuda serves the company as a director, and standout programmer Yuka Ooka is administrating the overall development of Forkwell and Forkwell Jobs. Personally, I like both services since they have been designed from the perspective of system developers.
The startup intends to add more features which allows users to put references on their online resumes. Mr. Ikemi adds:
In western countries, when you visit a company looking for a job, they will typically take a reference from your previous workplace. Many online resume services, like LinkedIn, have features like recommendations or endorsements from past colleagues. However, in Japan, personnel management typically relies only on your resume or what you’ve said in the interview. In order to help companies find more fitting people, and help system developers find a more appropriate workplace, we’d like to develop a system that encourages people to use references when finding a new job or new talent.
Garbs was launched back in January of 2011. It raised an undisclosed amount of investment from CyberAgent Ventures back in November of 2011, and 60 million ($611,000) from Nippon Venture Capital. To date, the startup has introduced Social Job Posting, which allows you to add a job posting tab on your Facebook fan page, and an iOS app to keep you updated with the latest study meeting events.