How can you cultivate your advantage for your next career in Finance (w Hafiz from Kinobi)

Today in the house, we have Hafiz, the Co-founder of Kinobi to share with you more about what this leading mentoring platform is trying to achieve. How can you ride their programs to foster your strength, helping you propel yourself into your next career. They have a special focus on careers in Finance and that is how this podcast was born. I know you have many questions and for the questions that we have yet to answer in today’s session with Hafiz, do check out Kinobi for more information!

Join Kinobi, the leading mentoring platform for your financial career today!


podcast Transcript

Sato: Hello, hello, hello! My name is Sato Shi and I warmly invite you to my show, Finding your (H)edge. 

Finding your (H)edge is a five-part special brought to you by the good people at The Financial Coconut. Join us on a journey into the deep universe of hedge funds as we seek to uncover the truth behind their workings. We’ll be inviting industry experts and insiders on our show, coaxing them, grilling them, and convincing them to share with us the keys to the promised land. Ultimately, we want to give you that edge as you venture into the vast arenas of the financial world. 

On top of that, we are also collaborating and working with Kinobi. They have invested their time and energy to source all these wonderful guests to appear on our show and also provided a space for us to record. We have found their platform really interesting and we wanted to have one of the co-founders to come onto the show, to share with all you good listeners the good stuff they’re working on. Welcome to the show.

Expand Full Transcript

Hafiz: Hi, my name is Hafiz. I’m one of the co-founders for Kinobi. I started this because I’m really passionate about mentoring. I started my career first in SMU.

And in SMU, right after  SMU, I was in management consulting for two and a half years. In SMU at the end of my last semester, what I did together with my co-founder, Ben, now, um, was basically, we felt the need for a more sustainable career mentoring program back in school. Mentoring programs exist, but I think it was mainly basically done by the management of the school rather than students themselves.

So we felt the need for a bottom up, sort of ground up student-led mentoring program in SMU and we created one called The Mentoring Circle. So it’s an undergraduate to undergraduate mentoring program that helps students discover themselves as they go through university. 

Sato: So, I mean, what kind of mentoring do you offer?

Hafiz: One is we widen their perspectives. So basically we introduce them to multiple different career paths that an SMU student can take. Coming in as an SMU student, sometimes you think there’s only a set group of career paths when actually there’s I think more  than that. 

Second, I think apart from just widening their perspective, also deepen their perspectives.

So I think, you know, people coming in in SMU, especially, you have an idea that they might want to go into banking, but they actually have no, absolutely no idea what they mean by…

Sato: And that’s where you come in. 

Hafiz: Exactly. So that’s where we come in, introduce them to people who have done it. Been there, done that. And tell them about more about their lives and then see whether these undergrads actually think they could do it.

Sometimes they listen to these perspectives and decided, eh, that’s actually not for me. And that’s great. 

Sato: Yeah. I think that, you know, one common corporate catch line is that you have to find a mentor that can actually guide you through. And you know, this is a term that you actually hear a lot in the workplace.

So I like the fact that, you know, you’re actually starting this in school, university, where it’s a place of growth, a place of learning. You probably started this mentoring circle, then you went over toyou know, that company…. 

Hafiz: Oliver Wyman. After that I worked at  Hamlet, tech-enabled real estate company essentially. They started off as a co-living company. So what that means is that actually they just flip real estate la so they take a piece of real estate, slice and dice it into different sort of smaller room categories, supercharge it with really good furniture and really good quality service and sell it at a premium, either 20 or 30% premium to the tenants. 

Sato: So they staged the home la basically. 

Hafiz: Yeah. They staged the home. They provide quality service, they…

Sato: They lease? 

Hafiz: Yeah, they lease to tenants.

Sato: They lease on their own website? There’s a Hamlet site. 

Hafiz: Yeah.

Sato: For B2C customers? 

Hafiz: That’s right.

Sato: Sure. So would you say that, you know, when I think of such listing company, I think of Property Guru, I think of Are they like natural competitors or…? But it seems like you’re doing something different, ’cause you stage the whole… You  don’t just take any listing. 

Hafiz: Yeah. So we do end to end. If it’s Property Guru, what you do is you interact through Property Guru and then you go through an agent layer and then the agent layer, you know, you are not really confident of the service level that the agent will probably give you. Hundreds or thousands of agents out there.

But for Hamlet, their experience is homogenized, standardized to a high quality, you’re interacting only with Hamlet, all the way from clicking on the property that you want on the website, all the way to when you actually take your first step into the door. You only interact with Hamlet and sort of, it’s the entire institution backing up that service.

So you’re guaranteed that, you know, your payments will be facilitated properly, or your cleaning will be done on time. Any repairs is sort of guaranteed and there’s good quality furniture, sort of good quality sort of experience. And that is of a high level across all Hemet units. That’s the differentiator for Hamlet.

Sato: Yeah. So, thanks. Thanks for sharing very briefly about Hamlet, but now, I mean, we are going to talk about your newest venture, Kinobi. 

Hafiz: Sure. So Kinobi is essentially a career accelerator. It provides undergraduates with many modes of learning to learn about potential careers and help them secure the most aspirational careers.

We have two products that we are releasing over the short term. One is a video on demand content library. So imagine this to be a set of pre-recorded videos, tailored to a certain career path. The second thing we do is the coaching platform. So after watching the videos, if an undergrad needs more support, sort of one-to-one support from the coaches from the different industry, that’s exactly what they can get from the coaching platform, they can go in, they can choose from a wide variety of hundreds of coaches across 50 different companies and sort of multiple different verticals. You can engage them at a dollar per hour sessions for a coaching service from these coaches. 

Sato: Well, I mean, yeah, it sounds like, you know, it’s a full suite of services, but I think most of my listeners, I think they would like to know what does “Kinobi” mean? 

Hafiz: So we’re Star Wars fans. Um, so Kinobi, essentially Obi wan Kenobi, and sort of we just changed the spelling to make sure we don’t get attacked by the powers that be behind the Star Wars series la. But yeah, it’s meant to be, it’s meant to represent the mentor figure, and it’s meant to be a place where you go in and you get guidance, essentially. 

Sato: Yeah, you want the mentor, you want the guide the guys. So can you just share with me, you know, who is your target  demographic, right now, who you feel that would benefit from Kinobi’s service? 

Hafiz: Yeah. And I think that’s a great question. Now for us, it’s basically undergraduates across Asia, specifically undergraduates who come from open-ended sort of degrees. 

So for instance,  business, econs, liberal arts who are looking for aspirational careers in sort of three different career blocks  and create themes. We call these pathways in Kenobi, but it straddles across finance. So under finance is investment banking, private equity, sales and trading, venture capital. Two is tech, specifically business in tech, so the non-technical areas of tech, which is growth hacking, product management, and tech sales. And last but not least is management consulting.

Sato: I see, you know, when I think of universities, they probably have their own career guidance counselors already. They have their own career guidance centers. So, I mean, why should someone engage Kinobi instead of, you know, their own university career centers? 

Hafiz: Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question. We always get asked that. I think really two simple reasons. One is the ability to engage professionals on demand, right? I think versus a career center, usually, you know, they have so limited resources shared amongst thousands of students. You can’t really guarantee that you’ll get the help that you need at the right time that you need.

For us, it’s on demand. Meaning if you want a coach within the next few days, we’ll get you a coach for you in the next three days, specific to the vertical that you’re interested in. And second point would be you’re able to engage from a wide variety of professionals, specifically 100+ now, nearing 200 coaches across on our platform across multiple geographies.

Sato: Wow, you put a number to the number of professionals and it’s growing, am I right to say that? It’s just a start. 

Hafiz: Yeah, definitely growing, and yeah, versus a career center. You know, you typically have maybe 8 to 10 good ones, maybe 20 specialists, but nothing matches the numbers we have. 

Sato: Sure. And, I believe that the fees are affordable.

Hafiz: Sure. So typically the fees that we charge for coaching services is around maybe around 80 USD to 130 USD per hour. Now some people have commented that this is quite high, but actually, you know, it’s not. One, it’s not that expensive versus say, your one-on-one JC tuition. You know, if you go out there in a market and you want to do a one-on-one JC tuition with an MOE educator, it’s around that range anyways.

Second is, I think we have more value and provide more value than tuition instead of just getting, helping you get from an A to an A+, right. You know, we get you the job that you truly desire. That is a lifetime value. That is not a one-off value. And three, you know, we,  sort of help you save a lot of time, you know, the journey to self-awareness for most undergrads, uh, you know, it’s a long and arduous journey if there’s no one there to guide you, you know? 

So we provide that guidance. We provide you with a coach or a board of coaches to push you to the right direction. And I think that in itself is also highly, highly valuable and the price of 80 USD to 130 USD per hour, you know, the value sort of beats that straight up.

Sato: Yeah. I think the value that you bring is a multiplier, definitely. 

Hafiz: Exactly. Exactly. 

Sato: So you mentioned 80 US dollars. Why US dollars? 

Hafiz: US dollars because we are very Asia-focused. Yeah so right now we’re already in around five, six different countries. So we’re present in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and then looking to go into Vietnam. So yeah, I mean, it’s just… 

Sato: I mean, so it’s a regional thing. You’re not just targeting Singaporeans. I mean, you know, undergraduates from around this region. 

Hafiz: Exactly. We go regional right away.  

Sato: I just have one more last question. If you could just summarize your pitch, your elevator pitch, I’m sharing the lift with you, and you had, you know, this 30 seconds, can you just put across your value to me in a nutshell? 

Hafiz: Sure. Sure. Kinobi is really just a one-stop career accelerator for Asia’s Gen Z. We first start with two products. One is our video on demand content library, and two our coaching platform. But ultimately the three year vision is to be much bigger than that.

We want to be the best and baddest platform out there to help Asia’s Gen Z to accelerate their career. And beyond that accelerate their self-development journey. So look out for us. And I think we have a lot of plans in store. If you want to know him further, happy have a chat. 

Sato: Sure. And what is your website?


Sato: So there we have it folks. I think Hafiz, you know, what he is trying to build here, you know, he has a lot of potential if you ask me and yeah, I thank you also for, you know, bringing this public good to Asia’s youth and I wish you all the best. 

Hafiz: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. 

Sato: Thank you, Hafiz.

So arigato, my friends, and my deepest appreciation for joining me on this journey. Please reach out to us on The Financial Coconut socials and Telegram group. Everything can be found in the description below. We would love to hear from you and discover which other sectors of finance to demystify. Until then, ciao!

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