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CEO INTERVIEW - StaffAny: A vision to enable a connected workforce, built on the basis of trust and transparency.

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An interview with: Janson Seah

Co-Founder

1.     Please share with us briefly what you do.

StaffAny is a software-as-a-service that helps business owners reduce work dedicated to scheduling and time-tracking, as well as reduce the cost of operations by minimising time theft and overtime spending. 

At StaffAny, we help many of our favourite brick-and-mortar stores optimize their scheduling and HR administration through our integrated scheduling and time tracking SaaS with our mobile and web application. In addition to managing hourly workers, StaffAny tracks staff performance and automates end-of-month timesheet consolidations. 

The solution is designed specifically for hourly workers as well as the gig economy. Key verticals served include F&B, Retail, Events and healthcare. Successful case studies include large chains such as Royal T Group and the Kiosk Collective, as well as small business owners such as Good Luck Beerhouse and Foreword Coffee.

 

2.     What were you doing before this?

Before StaffAny, I was still in school at NUS and I was on the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) program where the whole idea of StaffAny came about from a venture creation module. I later co-founded StaffAny with Kai Yi, Jeremy and Eugene - after which, in the most rudimentary state, friends from the program such as Jia Yi and Albert joined our quest forming the founding team. 

 

3.     Describe your product. How does it work?

StaffAny is available on both web and mobile platforms.

For teams that use StaffAny, their staff use the mobile app to submit weekly availability, check for the latest shifts, acknowledge announcements, request for leave, and clock in and out of work. Practically everything that previously required paperwork, manual entry or multiple back and forths!  

As the system is fully real-time, staff can also check their timesheet data which will be directly used to process payroll - this enhances transparency on the employee end which is something traditional methods like punch cards and biometrics are unable to offer 

For managers, the app provides an easy way for them to Managers are able to see who is present/absent, make edits and process approvals on the app as well - this means managers always get team visibility, even on the go. 

The web platform is frequently used by managers and owners who process heavier tasks such as scheduling and timesheet checks on a weekly and monthly basis respectively.

With StaffAny, your entire team is connected on one platform for maximum efficiency and communication! 

 

 

4.     What are the key benefits?

The key impact we are looking to provide is to change how traditional brick and mortar businesses run their Operations and HR processes into a fast, efficient and cost-saving manner. With pure labour cost savings of up to 3%, businesses are able to reinvest savings into more valuable parts of the business.

Our vision is to enable a connected workforce that’s built on the basis of trust and transparency. We aim to transform the management of hourly workers from a chore to a breeze and bring greater value to this valued industry.

Business benefits:

  1. Increased productivity of staff and managers by removing the need to do manual scheduling, time tracking and consolidation.

    1. Up to 75% time saved on planning schedules.

    2. Up to 4 man-days worth of time from 2 HR executive’s on timesheets every month, reduction in staff lateness.

  2. Reduce labour costs by deploying manpower smarter and more efficiently.

    1. Time theft.

    2. OT savings

    3. Monthly cost savings equivalent to half an HR manager’s salary.

  3. Gain visibility of your operations and have a more data-driven approach to make decisions in real-time.

  4. Improve communications within your team with a dedicated workforce management application.

 

 

5.     Who are your closest competitors?

Our first main competitor would be traditional methods of tracking time and scheduling: punch cards, biometrics, pen & paper and/or excel scheduling. These methods tend to result in costly time theft for businesses that they cannot even measure because time tracking was inaccurate from the beginning.

The next main competitor would be other HR payroll software providers. However, the main difference is that these local solution providers are less designed for the complexities of managing hourly work, and have a less optimal (or non-existent) Scheduling module. Comparatively, we provide a scheduling module purpose-built to manage the complexities of managing an hourly workforce. We also help to automate on-the-ground operational data to the HR team in a more seamless way through Scheduling and Time and Attendance integration. Instead of competing, we work and partner with them so that we can provide the end-users with the best Ops - HR experience.

Quoting one of our existing customers, “Many HR solutions created for the 9-5 office working environment don’t meet our requirements. We’re front liners and require a system that understands shift work. StaffAny is what we were looking for!”

 

6.     Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?

The Royals Bistro was one of the few F&Bs we first approached back in 2018 and eventually having seen the potential of our app to solve their pain points, they hopped on and have never looked back :) 

The Royals Bistro is a Halal certified restaurant located in the prime spot on the NUS University Town campus, relying heavily on shift workers to man the front of the house. However, this was a huge pain point for Manager Jasmine Lu who depended on Google Sheets and Google links to share the weekly schedule with staff.

Before StaffAny, The Royals was using a punch card system where all punch cards had to be manually calculated at the end of every month. This was incredibly time consuming and frustrating for Jasmine in terms of manual communications, calculations and scheduling.

Adopting StaffAny meant no more punch cards and no more manual hourly calculations.

“With StaffAny, there are no more gaps in communication, I can make quick edits and staff get notified directly. Any changes can be made on my iPhone app on the go, no longer having to use offline methods and excel sheets.

Clock in and clock out timings can be checked on the app instantly and in real-time. There are no longer any discrepancies and enable full transparency between staff and managers. Without punch cards, it allows us as a business to cut down on costs of maintaining hardware and punch cards.

Last but most definitely not the least, timesheets are downloaded almost instantaneously with StaffAny. Previously, I was spending more than a day tallying timesheets for over 20 part-timers. With StaffAny, the time spent has been reduced significantly with only 2-5 hours on average spent on 10 part-timers and all full-timers.”

Jasmine says, “The best part is that everything can be consolidated on the app. Manual processes are no longer needed and clock in and out time logs can be checked from my phone – it doesn’t get more convenient than this!

 

7.     What motivated you to start this business?

I used to run a bar and in 2014 - doing everything from sales, marketing, inventory and even cleaning the toilets - and felt the pain point of managing hourly workers. It was under-optimised and inefficient.  I hated doing timesheets manually, checking time and attendance, and making mistakes whilst scheduling. Tools were rudimentary, and processes were terrible. I have always wondered what if I could generate more time and focus on bringing in more sales.  As such, there will be a huge potential for us to value add businesses to reduce labour cost, reduce time spent on admin and improve profitability. 

I co-founded StaffAny with Kai Yi, Jeremy and Eugene whilst on NOC from a venture creation module. After which, in the most rudimentary state, friends from the program such as Jia Yi and Albert joined our quest forming the founding team. Together with my team and experience with startups in the bay area, StaffAny was founded to transform the future of hourly work so businesses can make time for what matters.

 

 

8.     What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?

I think the biggest sacrifice is to commit time, which I think is the scarcest resource to make things work. However, it brings a smile to my face when our solution actually creates time for our customers to do what matters when reaping the productivity gains and automation from StaffAny :)

 

9.     How did you get funded?

In 2019, we raised a seed round of investment totalling S$1 million. The seed investment was led by FreakOut Holdings, Inc. and several angel investors. StaffAny’s angel investors include Kenji Niwa, an experienced HR tech entrepreneur, and Lim Qing Ru, Kwok Yang Bin and Royston Tay, co-founders of Zopim, a live chat software company acquired by Zendesk in 2014. 

Prior to that round, I believe it was the hard work by our early team members and conviction by our early customers that gave us the traction to convince investors to join our journey.

 

10.   What has been your most successful form of marketing?

We are in the midst of experimenting with the different forms of marketing, strategies and “hacks” and see different kinds of performance across the various channels. Marketing is about the consumer journey and so there are different touchpoints and types of engagements. So far, word of mouth is definitely an effective channel for us, and we have also seen success in the usage of our recent Payslip Template with MOM OT, CPF & SDL Calculation. 

 

11.   Describe a typical workday

As a co-founder, my role is pretty dynamic. Depending on the season or projects happening, I could be in discussion with external partners, be involved in bigger pitches, pop into relevant stakeholder meetings and also mentor some of the more junior staff. In StaffAny we also make it a point to carry out bi- or tri-weekly one on one sessions with our members to ensure they have space to have their voices heard. 

 

 

12.   Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?

The start-up community, our team members, customers and mentors alike all have played significant and unique roles in moulding different parts of the business; so I wouldn’t say there is one particular person. Special shout out to NUS Enterprise, Startup X, the Gen E program, BIG incubation and more!

However, I wanted to give a shout out to my early team members Jia Yi and Albert. 

In times when others may not buy into the vision yet (it is being formed as largely an idea), staying steadfast to the vision and working towards it while the external circumstances have not aligned is amazing strength and grit we can all learn from. 

 

13.   What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?

Sometimes, the customers we serve would move to another business. And sometimes, they bring you along and introduce you to their new team.

My proudest moment was the first time that happened because that implied that we have indeed created something of value, and our customers would vouch for us and bring us wherever they go. That is a really special relationship and a continuous journey of growing and serving them better.

 

14.   What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?

When we started in 2018, we thought that we could launch a mobile scheduling app in 3 months and focus on solving other problems for our customers next. We grossly underestimated the problem set and despite working with it for 3 years, there are still so many things we can improve. What we have learned is many things that seem superficial at the beginning, might have deeper complexities that you would appreciate after getting your hands dirty, and the best way to learn is to start from something and iterate from there!

 

15.   If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?

Keep on trying things and get new experiences, because it is those experiences that shape your perspectives and executional abilities! 

 

16.   What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?

Block meeting-free time slots throughout your day so that you can control certain activities and outputs.

 

17. Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?

You can visit our website and if they are keen, they can sign up and begin a free trial or speak to us directly. Alternatively, they can reach out to me on Linkedin.

 

18.   Rapid fire questions...

 

Your first job?

Managing a bar near Clarke Quay facing the very problem we are trying to solve!

Someone, you admire?

My cofounders - it takes a lot to jump onto this ship and build this journey together instead of something conventional

Favourite book?

Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis - great principles on growth experimentation, how to pull together team members across functions to focus on growth, and executing in an unbiased manner to find out what the market really thinks.

Last holiday?

StaffAny business trip to Jakarta before the world closed due to Covid

When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you?

Probably going on culinary adventures or basking in the outdoors outside of work - hiking, trekking, and futile attempts at learning board sports.
 

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