Being designers themselves, siblings Tony and Chloe realised one thing about most job portals: they don’t cater well to creatives.
Firstly, creatives depend on portfolios to showcase their work, and job portals generally don’t provide a space for candidates to readily display their portfolios.
After receiving an application, an employer would need to personally ask to see portfolios, which extends the duration of the process.
Secondly, with a regular job listing, the employer would also have to wait for an interested candidate to show up, who might still end up rejecting the job offer.
This makes it difficult for an employer who may be chasing a deadline and needs creatives on demand.
So, Tony and Chloe came up with their own solution: Rtist, a platform that functions as a job portal specifically for creatives.
The First Draft
It all began with an idea, like most inventions do.
“I’ve always thought that the only career path for a designer was to start with employment before moving on to entrepreneurship,” Tony told Vulcan Post.
When he settled upon a plan of action, he managed to convince Chloe to join him in founding a small design agency together, and they had 4 employees.
Soon they realised that simply providing design services wasn’t enough to meet the needs of most of their clients, so they began providing the full package—design, print, and shipping services.
Many SMEs have design needs, but lack dedicated departments to address the demand.
In response, Tony and Chloe formed “Your Creative Department”, a concept introduced to these companies to outsource their creative work to them.
Alas, “the first year of running the agency exhausted us physically and financially. The concept felt like nothing more than a slogan,” Tony lamented.
But a meeting in June, 2016, with a local designer would change the agency’s future.
He didn’t suit their agency, but Tony knew of a friend in advertising who needed someone with his speciality.
So, Tony ‘rented’ him out to the company with his wages calculated by the day. If things didn’t work out, they could terminate the collaboration anytime.
To the company renting a designer, it was a convenient and straightforward process that had a vast reduction of risks and commitment in comparison to if they were to hire a full-time employee. To the designer being rented out, it allowed him to find work quickly. And to me, I was able to receive a handsome amount of returns for facilitating the collaboration. Most importantly, all three parties were pleased with the arrangement and that made me feel a sense of achievement.Tony Chua, Founder of Rtist
Since the ‘renting out a designer’ method seemed promising, their agency officially pivoted and became Rtist in the August of 2016.
Turning The Tables On The Traditional
Today, they provide online and offline handpicked creative hiring solutions to businesses, with 2 ways of hiring on Rtist.
Companies can browse by portfolio (for portfolio design comparisons, suitable for hiring freelancers or for a short campaign) or talent (to view a talent’s overall profile and skill sets, suitable for contract hires and permanent positions).
Aside from that, companies can also choose to do the ol’ job posting for free and wait for talents to pick up their offer.
To further assist a smooth searching and hiring process, Rtist provides smart detail filtering which helps companies find the right local creative talent in minutes.
“We streamline all portfolios to make comparison easier. If employers don’t know how and who to hire, Rtist’s creative consultants can assist in handpicking talents for them,” Tony said.
If you were to browse the 2,200 plus talents on Rtist, you might see a few names with either a blue tick or a green leaf.
A blue tick signifies that the talent is verified, and a green leaf signifies that the talent is a newbie (in their first month) on Rtist.
Talents who want to be verified must be signed up for the Plus or Premium membership, which they can enjoy partner rewards and creative workshop discounts with.
There are 3 types of memberships:
Credits are used by clients (employers) to ‘unlock’ a talent’s contact details (excluding verified or new talents, which are free to unlock), and to feature, bump up or label their job ads as urgent.
These credits are valid for 1 year, and come in different top up amounts like 50 credits for RM250, 200 credits for RM900, and 500 credits for RM2,000, for example.
They don’t function as a replacement for payments from client to talent, which are escrowed.
Finding The Right Balance
So far, Rtist has matched more than 700 talents to jobs with their handpicked service.
This is a feat for them, because balancing their platform’s demand and supply traffic is one of their main challenges.
Helping creatives get jobs and helping companies hire the right talents in time is no easy task, after all.
To overcome this, Rtist has started collaborating with creative schools to educate their students to save their portfolios on the platform, with one school being Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA).
The team also collaborates with community based organisations like JCI, Sunway iLabs and coworking offices to direct more client traffic to Rtist.
Concurrently, they’re in the midst of raising RM1 million in funds through Mystartr, an ECF platform.
In the next 2 years, not only do they want to be the biggest creative platform in Malaysia and aim to host 30,000 talents, but they’d like to duplicate their business model in other countries too.
One day we might even see an Rtist creative hub for a creative working space, workshops, and creative supplier material displays.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups we’ve written on here.