CEO INTERVIEW:Learn Anchor - Transform your HR
New Success Stories - Learn Anchor
GERALD GIAM, Co-Founder and CTO
Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am the co-founder and CTO of Vitis Solutions, a Singapore-based company that provides enterprise human resource software solutions for companies around the world. Our flagship software, Learn Anchor, helps enterprises to digitalize their HR functions, from leave to performance appraisals, so that their employees have more time to focus on the work they enjoy and the people they love.
What were you doing before this?
I was a senior consultant at Avanade, a subsidiary of Accenture which was founded as a joint venture with Microsoft, and a project manager at a local IT consulting firm, before I ventured out to start Vitis Solutions with my co-founders.
Describe your product. How does it work?
Learn Anchor is a human resource management system. Our customers use it to manage their leave, expense claims, timesheets, performance and training — all on a single cloud-based, mobile-enabled and user-friendly platform. New customers can sign up for a free trial at https://learnanchor.com and start using it right away.
What are the key benefits?
Our customers tell us they experience higher employee productivity, spend less time on menial paperwork and see improved staff morale after implementing Learn Anchor. They benefit from HR best practices and tools that are usually more accessible to employees working in larger MNCs.
Who are your closest competitors?
Interestingly, Microsoft Excel. Most of our customers are taking their first major step in digitalizing their HR processes with the help of our software. Some of them initially experience a degree of apprehension when making this jump. Our challenge is to convince them to move away from their manual methods and realize the benefits of embracing digital transformation.
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Our first customer is a distributor of products and services to the semiconductor industry in Southeast Asia. Most of their HR processes were manual and they were looking to digitalize them. Interestingly, I learned that one major benefit of their digital transformation was to equip employees with more modern HR tools so as to enhance their company image and improve morale. The productivity gains were but a means to an end.
What motivated you to start this business?
I wanted to help SMEs level up with MNCs in their digital journey. When I was in my corporate jobs, I dreaded reporting to bosses but loved working with customers — so I decided to become my own boss and find my own customers!
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
I gave up a comfortable salary in my corporate job for the uncertain income of an entrepreneur. I pumped most of my company’s profits back into the business, instead of rewarding myself with fat bonuses. But the sacrifice has been well worth it. I still enjoy a surge of excitement whenever I spot an opportunity to grow our business beyond what I thought was possible.
How did you get funded?
We bootstrapped from the start. I didn’t quit my corporate job until we had signed our first deal with a customer. This was so I could pay myself a decent salary and not go hungry for months on end. I had two babies to feed back then! Since then, our ongoing projects have been able to fund the development of our new products, without the need for external funding.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Word-of-mouth. I learned that customers only do business with people they know and trust.
Describe a typical workday
I schedule most of my work and meetings in the mornings and early afternoons. Evenings are usually spent either coaching my kids in their tennis or schoolwork or doing volunteer work in the community. After dinner, it’s back to work again until the wee hours of the night.
Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
My customers. I have learned so much from them. It is through listening to them that we have been able to shape our products to better meet the needs of the wider market.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
I am grateful for God’s blessings each time our customers willingly write glowing testimonials about their experiences working with us.
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
This is actually my second business venture. I wound up the first when I got a dream job offer from a global consulting firm but promised myself I would revive my entrepreneurial dreams, which I did, six years later. I learned that there is a time and season for everything.
If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
Focus on what you are good at and don’t get side-tracked by too many divergent interests. I was definitely guilty of the latter, which led me to take a more circuitous route in my career than I needed to.
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Telegram. I use it to communicate with my colleagues in different countries at all hours of the day. The “silent send” and “schedule send” features are fantastic innovations.
More about Gerald :
First job - I took up a job as a programmer at a dot.com startup in California while I was still a college student in the late-1990s. That job turned out to be more pivotal to my IT career than my university degree.
Favorite Film - Back to the Future (Part 1)
Favorite Gadget - My Arduino microcontroller kit. I’ve enjoyed so many hours of fun wiring up and building projects with my 9-year old son.
Last holiday - Last December, I rented a car and drove my family from Johor Bahru to Ipoh and Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. It was as delightful a road trip as any I’ve done in the US or Australia — at a fraction of the cost.
When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you? Volunteering in the community or on the tennis court, either coaching my kids or cheering them on at competitions.
For more information :
Those interested in our HR management system can go to LearnAnchor and training providers who are looking for a training management system can visit Vitis Solutions. They can live chat with us through the websites.
Please contact GERALD GIAM or email at email@example.com.