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Coder recruitment revolutionaries win venture pitch competition

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2 November 2020

For a second year ON: Pitch, a Gen Z start-up ventures competition, has provided student start-ups with the ultimate tools to take their businesses to the next level. Three finalists pitched their venture ideas in a livestream for the chance of a share of a prize pool worth $30,000 that includes mentorship, legal advice, office space, upskilling opportunities, and more. The opportunity was created by Niesh with support from ATEED. 

This year’s winner was Skillsme, one of the student ventures participating in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Start-up Studio programme. Skillsme have created an online community designed to help budding developers grow their coding skills by completing practical projects and receiving endorsements from industry leaders. Skillsme also serves as a talent pool for recruiters – an easy, more effective alternative to sifting through CVs. Their AI and machine learning software refers endorsed coders to relevant employers.

Joyce Wong, Head of Student Engagement at Niesh, says “We were so happy with the level of talent from our teams this year and were thrilled that the switch to digital helped bring the competition to another level. Skillsme is a clear reflection of this. They are a small and focused team, but their dedication to revolutionising the software job recruitment process is what made them stand out to our judges and the wider public. We can’t wait to support and follow their journey.”

Skillsme was founded when University of Auckland Bachelor of Commerce student Zifeng Liang, Bachelor of Science student Terry Jiang, and AUT Business alumnus Bernard Leong learned that a staggering 94% of graduate coders struggled to get hired in the software industry because they lacked practical experience beyond the university curriculum. “We saw a gap in the market for a platform that helps coders complete practical projects and get validated by top industry experts like tech leads from Google, Facebook, Tesla, and Airbnb. Certificates and degrees should not be the only form of validation for coders,” says Zifeng. 

Zifeng hopes that Skillsme will trigger changes in how programmers are taught at university, shifting focus from theory to more practical projects, and how they are hired afterwards. “I fully believe in a future where coders can be hired without a traditional CV.”

The mentorship and networks that Skillsme received through Start-up Studio has proven most valuable to the venture, as well as the”great space, Unleash Space, where you can meet like-minded people while also having a focus-friendly workspace to call your own.”

The pandemic presented an opportunity for Skillsme to grow their user base, as young coders had extra time to practice their skills at home, and increase the functionality of their platform based on user feedback. Zifeng says, “Covid also accelerated changes in the market. We are seeing more companies hire coders that can be based anywhere in the world, resulting in more interest in Skillsme from companies based outside of New Zealand.”

Since their first angel investment in early October, Skillsme has grown their user base by over 4,000 people from around the globe. They plan to hit one million users by the end of 2021.

Nicholas Bing
Nicholas Bing

social media

2 November 2020

For a second year ON: Pitch, a Gen Z start-up ventures competition, has provided student start-ups with the ultimate tools to take their businesses to the next level. Three finalists pitched their venture ideas in a livestream for the chance of a share of a prize pool worth $30,000 that includes mentorship, legal advice, office space, upskilling opportunities, and more. The opportunity was created by Niesh with support from ATEED. 

This year’s winner was Skillsme, one of the student ventures participating in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Start-up Studio programme. Skillsme have created an online community designed to help budding developers grow their coding skills by completing practical projects and receiving endorsements from industry leaders. Skillsme also serves as a talent pool for recruiters – an easy, more effective alternative to sifting through CVs. Their AI and machine learning software refers endorsed coders to relevant employers.

Joyce Wong, Head of Student Engagement at Niesh, says “We were so happy with the level of talent from our teams this year and were thrilled that the switch to digital helped bring the competition to another level. Skillsme is a clear reflection of this. They are a small and focused team, but their dedication to revolutionising the software job recruitment process is what made them stand out to our judges and the wider public. We can’t wait to support and follow their journey.”

Skillsme was founded when University of Auckland Bachelor of Commerce student Zifeng Liang, Bachelor of Science student Terry Jiang, and AUT Business alumnus Bernard Leong learned that a staggering 94% of graduate coders struggled to get hired in the software industry because they lacked practical experience beyond the university curriculum. “We saw a gap in the market for a platform that helps coders complete practical projects and get validated by top industry experts like tech leads from Google, Facebook, Tesla, and Airbnb. Certificates and degrees should not be the only form of validation for coders,” says Zifeng. 

Zifeng hopes that Skillsme will trigger changes in how programmers are taught at university, shifting focus from theory to more practical projects, and how they are hired afterwards. “I fully believe in a future where coders can be hired without a traditional CV.”

The mentorship and networks that Skillsme received through Start-up Studio has proven most valuable to the venture, as well as the”great space, Unleash Space, where you can meet like-minded people while also having a focus-friendly workspace to call your own.”

The pandemic presented an opportunity for Skillsme to grow their user base, as young coders had extra time to practice their skills at home, and increase the functionality of their platform based on user feedback. Zifeng says, “Covid also accelerated changes in the market. We are seeing more companies hire coders that can be based anywhere in the world, resulting in more interest in Skillsme from companies based outside of New Zealand.”

Since their first angel investment in early October, Skillsme has grown their user base by over 4,000 people from around the globe. They plan to hit one million users by the end of 2021.


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