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An Ultra-Niche Job Board Making $60,000 MRR

An Ultra-Niche Job Board Making $60,000 MRR

What is the business and who’s behind it?

Japan Dev, a niche job board site specializing in tech positions in Japan, was created and co-founded by Eric Turner.

Eric's journey began in 2014 when he sought a fulfilling software engineering job in Tokyo. Frustrated by the scarcity of information about desirable tech companies in Japan for foreigners, he set out to create a platform that would connect job seekers with great tech companies.

As of August 2022, Japan Dev is a bootstrapped business with no employees, run solely by Eric and his wife.

How was the business started?

Japan Dev was conceived from Eric's own quest for a satisfying tech job in Japan.

In 2014, he initiated a Trello board called "Companies 2014" to list companies that matched his criteria: good work/life balance, attractive salaries, a modern tech stack, and an international atmosphere. He sourced potential employers using resources like Wantedly, Forkwell, and Green Japan.

After a thorough search, Eric curated a list of 30-40 promising companies, a mixture of Japanese startups and international firms with a presence in Japan, creating a resource for foreign software developers like himself.

Over several years, Eric continued updating his list while working as a developer. In 2017, he decided to build a project centered around the same idea and created a prototype called "Good tech companies in Japan." It was designed to offer insights into companies' pros and cons and provide users with valuable information.

With the support of his wife Manami, they rebranded the project to "Japan Dev" and officially launched it in April 2019.

What are some of the marketing strategies used?

The initial focus of Japan Dev was on attracting companies and job seekers to the platform. Eric's approach was built on organic growth and word of mouth. Over the years, they tried various marketing strategies, honing in on what worked best.

The key marketing channels that proved successful for Japan Dev include:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO played a significant role in driving traffic to the platform. The team implemented tactics like creating separate pages for long-tail keywords and structured JSON for job posts to improve search engine visibility. Blog posts also contributed to strong SEO traffic.

  • Email Marketing: Building an email list with over 10,000 subscribers, Eric sent weekly job alerts to keep job seekers engaged. Optimizing the website for email collection and offering a valuable lead magnet (salary guide) encouraged users to sign up.

  • Social Media: Leveraging platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, Eric shared his journey of building Japan Dev and promoted job listings. Building in public on Twitter allowed him to engage with the audience without the need for traditional marketing skills.

  • Networking and Cold Outreach: Networking and cold outreach were vital for acquiring the first clients. Meeting potential clients in person, visiting companies' offices, and attending meetups helped make connections. Japan Dev's first customers included Eric's own company, Mercari, and Indeed.

  • Content Creation: Blog posts and content from external writers helped boost the platform's credibility and attract job seekers. Well-researched content that catered to the needs of job seekers drove traffic to the website.

Interested in more growth strategies?

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How does the business make money?

Japan Dev takes a unique approach to monetization in the job board industry. Instead of charging a flat fee for companies to post job listings, Japan Dev operates on a success-based fee model.

Here's how the monetization strategy works:

  1. Success-Based Fee: Japan Dev charges companies a fee only when they successfully hire a candidate through the platform. This approach eliminates upfront costs for companies, making it more appealing for them to post jobs. It's particularly effective in a market where recruiting firms traditionally charge high fees, sometimes as much as 30-35% of a candidate's annual salary.

  2. Late Fees for Non-Reporting: To ensure companies report successful hires accurately, Japan Dev imposes late fees for failure to notify the platform of successful hires. The fee increases with each month of non-reporting, providing a strong deterrent.

  3. Tracking Applicants: Japan Dev tracks applicants' interactions with the platform. Whether they apply via email or through a direct link to the company's job site, the platform maintains records. It also offers incentives, such as Amazon gift cards, to candidates who notify the platform when they successfully join a company through Japan Dev.

By adopting this success-based fee model, Japan Dev has created a system that aligns the interests of both job seekers and companies while providing a transparent and cost-effective solution for hiring talent in Japan.

The platform has contracts with nearly 150 tech companies in Japan and continues to grow, having earned 8.3 million yen ($62,197) in revenue in the previous month. It is now a thriving hub for job seekers in the tech industry, connecting them with some of the best tech companies in Japan.

Today, Japan Dev is a thriving platform where job seekers can find opportunities at the best tech firms in Japan, thanks to Eric and his wife Manami's relentless dedication.

Where can we go to learn more about this business?

Here are some links you can learn more about Alex and his business:

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