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A New Service Born From the New Business Contest, Ring: Alumy Creates a Culture of Rehiring and Collaborating With Former Employees

RingTo an external site(formerly New RING)¹, a contest for new business creation that has continued for more than 40 years at Recruit, is constantly evolving as a mechanism to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of employees. In 2022, a new service from Ring that connects employers with their former employees, AlumyTo an external site¹, was launched on a trial basis. Alumy supports rehiring through a former employee management system and a team of Comeback Coordinators who specialize in communicating with former employees. We spoke with the creators of Alumy, Toshiki Komachi, Tomoki Kaneda, and Kosei Suzuki, about how they came up with the idea and their ambitions for Alumy.

¹ available only in Japanese

The Challenge of Connecting Employers and Former Employees in Japan

In 2019, Toshiki visited one of his clients who ran a restaurant business. The company’s HR manager told him that they had trouble retaining employees and mentioned that their ideal hire would be former employees — those who were already familiar with their work and corporate culture. These former employees had built relationships with customers, supported the company’s growth, and understood the ins and outs of the company.

At the time, Toshiki was an HR ad salesperson and took a personal interest in global HR trends and case studies, including the comeback system to rehire “alumni,” or former employees. It was at this moment when he began connecting all the dots between his personal studies and his client’s needs. He checked with his team and discovered that other clients had similar needs but could not pinpoint a concrete solution. “I was convinced that this was an issue that could not be solved with existing businesses,” said Toshiki. “We needed to create a new business to tackle it."

Toshiki formed a team with his colleagues, Tomoki and Kosei, all of whom joined Recruit in 2018 after graduating from the same university. The team used the initial conversation that Toshiki had with the restaurant’s HR manager as a key starting point. Kosei, who had experience in business planning, examined the potential competitive advantage of their idea, and Tomoki, who had experience in finance, refined the service’s value from the management perspective.

Together, the team quickly built a concrete business plan and pitched the idea at Ring’s annual new business proposal contest.

Ring Continues to Help Entrepreneurs Wow the World

Ring is a new business proposal contest that has been held at Recruit for over 40 years. It started as an existing business related idea contest in 1982, and since 1990, the event has specialized in new business development by encouraging cross-sectoral teaming and ideas. Ring was the catalyst for the birth of businesses and services such as Zexy (a bridal information magazine), Study Sapuri (an online learning service), Car Sensor (a second-hand car information magazine), and HOT PEPPER (a dining guide and coupon magazine).

Ring is constantly evolving as a mechanism to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of employees. In 2015, when Recruit turned to IT, Ring briefly changed its annual event to a monthly business pitching contest to keep up with the fast-changing market. Ring returned to its once-a-year contest in 2018, but added more workshops for skill improvement, more guidance tools and frameworks, more involvement from management to support incubation, and a more flexible rule that allows participants (and even non-participants) to support each team more freely.

As a contest for new business creation, Ring doesn’t just evaluate profitability as the only criterion during the judging process. The judges determine if the proposed business ideas can 1) eliminate pain points (dissatisfaction, inconvenience, anxiety, etc.) that people overlook or take for granted and 2) create new value or new common sense which wows the world.

A new business is not only a seed for a new source of revenue but also a challenge to create new business practices and new cultures while solving social issues. For example, Zexy challenged the tradition that parents and older relatives decided the marrying couple’s wedding venue, and it became common sense that marrying couples decide venues and arrange their ceremonies freely by themselves. Study Sapuri has changed the implicit understanding of students that it’s impossible to receive good education in rural areas or in poor families, and now less and less students give up studying because of financial or geographical restrictions.

"When I talk to other salespeople, I often sense that some Japanese companies may feel betrayed when an employee quits. This is a covertly deep-rooted issue in Japanese society," says Kosei. “We felt that it was important to explore ways where we could construct a bridge between employers and former employees to foster a long-lasting, professional relationship.”

After passing several selections, including the proposal submission period, two screenings, and a final presentation, Alumy won the 2021 Ring grand prize among 964 entries.

Three men holding a grand prize panel of Ring Award proudly

The Alumy team celebrating their grand prize win at Ring 2021

Making Rehiring “Alumni” a Norm in Japan

After winning the Ring grand prize, Alumy was launched on a trial basis in January 2022. The service currently provides two core services: a former employee management system and Comeback Coordinators.

With the management system, employers can centrally and safely manage former employee information, including the employee’s current role and their intentions to return. The Comeback Coordinator carefully supports former employee recruitment by conducting interviews and questionnaires with former employees to determine what working conditions they are looking for.

"In Japan, the unique practice of lifetime employment has continued for a long time, and leaving a company could still be regarded as a betrayal. I realized that there are lost opportunities due to that," said Tomoki. "The vision of Alumy is to create a society where former employees and employers can maintain a good, long-lasting relationship. I often feel that companies place a big hope on us saying Recruit can do something about this. I believe the great track records of Recruit and its alumni who opened up various possibilities in the HR market are forming this worthy expectation for Alumy.”

The three Alumy founders talked about what they wanted to achieve through this new business. "With Alumy, we believe that Japan will realize a new culture of rehiring and collaborating with former employees. Of course, it is important to generate significant sales of ¥10 billion. But right now, we are motivated as much as or more than the financial incentive to support those who are interested in having a relationship with and eventually working again for their former employer. We have the opportunity to improve the world through the creation of new value. We are going to use all the resources we have inside Recruit to do everything we can."

A group photo of the “Alumy”  teammates who participated Ring Award

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Toshiki Komachi

Business Development Group 1, Incubation Department, New Business Development Office, Product Management Division, Recruit Co., Ltd.

Toshiki is in charge of corporate client management for Alumy. He joined Recruit in 2018 soon after graduating from university. After engaging in a new grad recruiting team, he worked as a sales rep for retail and major clients in the mid-career recruitment business at Recruit. He also worked in a team to develop new businesses related to Recruit’s learning platform, Study Sapuri.

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Tomoki Kaneda

Business Development Group 1, Incubation Department, New Business Development Office, Product Management Division, Recruit Co., Ltd.

Tomoki oversees project management for Alumy. He joined Recruit in 2018 after graduating from university. He previously worked in the Finance Management Department at the Recruit headquarters in capital management and M&A finance risk management.

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Kosei Suzuki

Business Development Group 1, Incubation Department, New Business Development Office, Product Management Division, Recruit Co., Ltd.

Kosei manages business planning for Alumy. He has been with Recruit since 2018 and has experience in corporate planning in the HR agent business. He was involved in the planning of three new HR products in the alliance and scouting businesses.

Aug 22, 2022

This article is based on information available at the time of publication.