Raphael Danilo is doing it all: Studying with a degree from three different universities, travelling the world and CEO of a funded tech company.
What’s your story?
I’m an 18-year-old French student and internet entrepreneur doing college and business a little differently. I travel and learn whilst running a company thanks to the World Bachelor in Business. WBB is the future of education. It is an innovative program between USC, HKUST and Bocconi. I will graduate from all 3 universities at the end of my 4 years.
I am also the CEO of Yobs, a funded tech company that connects retail/ hospitality businesses that are hiring vetted college students. Other than that, tell me about politics, blockchains and which volcano we’re hiking next and I’m all ears!
What excites you most about your industry?
Staffing and recruiting is not a sexy industry. The most popular place to find a job right now would be Craigslist. It’s no surprise that if you scratch the surface you’d find obvious problems that need solving. Think of it this way; it costs $3,328 on average to replace an American minimum wage employee in retail but restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the likes all need a constant flow of qualified, hourly workers.
We are faced with a $140billion industry dominated by companies that embrace outdated HR software and haven’t captured the Millennial / Gen Z demographic. It’s an awesome challenge.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’d say, my connection to Asia has mostly been a curiosity and fascination for the culture. Only recently did it go from traveling across the continent and learning one of the major local languages (I speak some Mandarin) to actually living there. Right now I’m jumping from one island in Indonesia to the next with pretty much everything I own in my suitcase because in August I’m moving to Hong Kong to study business at HKUST.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. So many of the entrepreneurs I’ve talked to here are working on awesome businesses. The startup ecosystem in Hong Kong is young and booming. From FinTech to Biotech and with the world-class local universities, I think it’s the space to invest in right now. It’s the first place in Asia I want to take Yobs to. “Yobs Asia edition” is in stealth mode so I can’t say more.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never make yourself too busy for serendipity. We all know someone who says they sleep 4 hours a night, barely eat and have an air-tight calendar. I’ve found that it consistently pays off to voluntarily take time out to explore, meet new people or engage in serendipitous activities. I think being too busy to selectively meet new people is proof of bad time management, not success.
Who inspires you?
My father’s my biggest inspiration. You need a combination of work ethic, humility and serendipity to be truly great.
A few years ago he passed on his dream job and moved our family to California which changed my life. He went from growing up in the French countryside to doing finance in LA but he’s called his single mother every Sunday for the past 20 years since he left home. When his teenage son told him he was starting a tech company he said “Can I invest $500?” – We didn’t take the money but who wouldn’t love the intent?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A friend of mine recently told me that women make up less than 20% of the VC world. Trust me I’m not one to cite skewed statistics about topics like income disparity between men and women. But as a white male who interacts with many brilliant women in tech on a regular basis I have to be realistic and face the abnormality of the situation. There’s no inherent reason I am aware of for women to be less inclined to work in VC than men. It’s an effort I follow closely because I’ve met a few amazing women working hard to balance that ratio and innovating along the way.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Incorporate in Delaware instead of California? No but seriously, I’m one of those people who think every event, past and future play a role in forging who I am and have become. The difficult times have also helped shape who I am. I honestly wouldn’t be hustling nearly as much if it wasn’t for those.
How do you unwind?
I’m obsessed with rooftops, great wine and great people. Combine all 3 at the same time and in a country I have yet to explore and you get my ideal concept of fun.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have to go with Indonesia, Bali. I’m currently backpacking around the country with some friends and loving it. The people, culture and nature are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. If you’re reading this and thinking of going, my advice is pack your bags and go. Everything is pretty cheap so you will get a lot of bang for your buck.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Venture Deals by Brad Feld.
It’s my go-to resource for fundraising and I always recommend it both to entrepreneurs, wannabe-preneurs and curious minds alike. It explains all the major economic and legal terms of the investor term sheet, discusses the do’s and don’t’s of raising capital and much more. Especially in this current climate where the occurrence of random 18-year-olds raising millions for their apps is normalised by skewed news articles, I think it’s important to understand what it really takes to raise money and to hear it from one of the smartest VCs in Silicon Valley.
Shameless plug for your business:
@Business-owners in LA: You can get a lot more from your new employees without paying the price of a staffing agency for it.
@Student: Our team selects the best retail and hospitality jobs around you for free, no more spending hours on Craigslist applying for sketchy jobs.
That being said, if you’re a student or retail/ hospitality specialist anywhere in the world please do sign up for our newsletter on www.getyobs.me and email me to get access to our deck. I’d love to get your feedback on what we’re building. We launch the new web application exclusively in LA on August 19th!
How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected] – I’m one of those Gen Y/Z who still use email.
I’m not on Twitter but send me a funny photo of what you’re doing on Snapchat @dicknilo and I might respond with embarrassing photos of me.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com