Starting a movement in Asia as a foreigner is hard. Here is our story as Humans of Tech.
I’m Djoann Fal, CEO, and co-founder of GetLinks Inc. Last week a couple of people interviewing with me asked me to tell them the full story of how we started. I think this might deserve a blog post.
How GetLinks started
We started Getlinks with a networking event for tech people in my apartment when I was interning in an internet company called Lazada, later on, acquired by Alibaba, who invested in our startup this year.
Since 14, when I started to learn code, discovering TechCrunch and all these technology entrepreneurs, me too, I was dreaming to change the world, maybe just like you.
In 2013, being a student in Paris, I attended NASA Space app challenge & after 24h collaborating with a team in UK, France, Mexico, and Africa, I wrote in my Twitter “with 1 engineer, 1 designer, and 1 digital marketer, you can change the world”.
In 2014, inspired by reading this article, I landed in Asia to work as an intern in an Ecommerce company. As a foreigner it’s hard to interact with locals & make local friends — you sometimes feel like an alien. Bored to meet only with foreigners with not real technology interest, I was regretting the time was, back in Paris I was heavily involved in the tech scene with tech community events. I was missing spending nighters working on La Paillasse, one of the first Hackerspace in Europe I co-founded at that time.
After a few months, I decided to start a community for local Asians tech people passionate about technology. The idea of bringing like-minded tech people together online started in my small apartment when I organized a networking party with a couple of beers for tech people I met at that time.
The next month I organized the same format, but a bit bigger, in a bar and 50 people attended with a lot of locals interested in learning what “Startup” meant. Then next month in a co-working space, 100 people attended, (the space cracked and the police came because neighbors complained too many cars parked in the street). Then next month we got to host 300 people on a rooftop bar and a couple of famous local Asians startup CEOs actually attended. After meeting a potential CTO during a hackathon, they started to build an app to connect people before and after the event, Djoann then decided to leave his job and focus only on running these tech community events, the 4th one happened to be 800 attendees with C-levels, VCs flying from all around Asia to attend. GetLinks was born.
After defining GetLinks mission to connect technology people in Asia with a platform, I failed to raise money with no clear revenue model and went bankrupt. On my birthday I ran a crowdfunding campaign asking my friends and network to donate to fund GetLinks. the campaign wasn’t successful with only 1000$ raised but had a huge media impact and a lot of angel investors contacted me. Next 6 months, I then raised angel round, set up an office out of my bedroom, organized the first tech conference in Thailand with 3000 attendees and got into 500 Startups, top California accelerator, flew there 6 months, raised 700,000$ the next year on the Demo day, date of my 24th years old birthday. Today GetLinks have raised a total of 7M$ funding, employ 120 people across 4 markets and building a social network for technology people in Asia.
- Our community is now counting 500,000 engineers, designers, digital marketers, business developers, product managers & data scientist.
- This group of people changing the world by solving problems using technology, we call us Humans of Tech.
We are very excited about being part of GetLinks, this rocket bringing Humanity to Technology, building the new operating system for people like you to work, learn, network and thrive in the digital era.
I just wanted to say… A word for everyone who wants to become a “Human of Tech”
This is the best time ever in the history of humanity to be a digital talent.
We have Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Didi, and lot more companies building the future of our world and you can be part of this history pushing humanity forward.
Welcome to GetLinks, we are thrilled to have you here!
This platform is your ticket to thrive in a digital career next 10 years,
Go learn digital skills for free online, without paying a school degree,
Go get paid a lot to work for digital companies,
Go contribute pushing humanity forward solving humanity greatest problems with technology.
Come to join our community on GetLinks and connect with even more tech people together to shaping this exciting Asia Silicon Valley.
Hope we will meet soon. I see you later.