By Janice Chrysilla and Joseph Khaw
Janson Seah is Co-Founder at Staffany, a Singapore-based software-as-a-service startup that helps business owners reduce work dedicated to scheduling and time-tracking. Staffany also aims reduce their clients’ cost of operations, by minimising time theft and overtime spend. In this article, Janson shares insights on his industry and his entrepreneurship journey. He also provides some advice for young people who are keen on joining the start-up space.
StaffAny is a Singapore-based software-as-a-service startup 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 spend. Our vision is to transform the future of hourly work. With our product, we hope that our clients achieve productivity gains, cost optimisation and better visibility of what’s going on on the ground.
A day in my life includes a lot of meetings. Meetings with clients, partners, investors and internal stakeholders. As someone involved in general management and operations, my main role is to align, enable and empower everyone in the team to do what matters.
Right now, we have 12-13 full-timers and about 5 interns.
Yes. As we speak our customer base includes gyms, retailers, F&B outlets, events companies, processing plants, maintenance teams and other areas. The main bulk of our customers are in F&Bs but we’re experiencing increasing growth in the other industries as mentioned. When we first started StaffAny, we wanted to get the lowest hanging fruit and decided to focus on an industry that we were most familiar with. However, we are currently aggressively looking at other verticals such as healthcare, hotels and field services as well!
Recently we have launched a free biometric and punchcard replacement called CICO. It was covered by The Business Times as an effort to help #SGunited.
It is a contactless time and attendance tool that helps with re-opening compliance.
CICO gives business owners a peace of mind by integrating with SafeEntry, temperature logging and health declaration requirements.
Head over here to find out more!
My co-founders (Kai Yi, Jeremy, Eugene) and I met through the NUS Overseas College (NOC) programme in 2017. Whilst doing our internships, we were all intrigued by the startup ecosystem. We joined many hackathons and competitions together and we felt good synergy working with each other. We found that we complemented each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
In our earlier days, we were incubated by both the NUS School of Computing Furnace program, as well as NUS Enterprise. Later, we joined pre-accelerators such as The Start and the Hubquarters fellowship program! We also participated in the Ideasinc Challenge and PAK Challenge and e27’s top 100 challenge as well! As we speak, we are participating in the SMU BIG incubation program as well as the Singapore Tourism Accelerator. I am thankful for the opportunities provided by the start-up ecosystem that have helped me greatly.
I think one of the biggest challenges was less about after you started working with your friends but even before working together!
It’s actually deciding who to work with.
It’s really hard to find the right team to solve the problem. Can we trust each other? Can we communicate with each other? Can we be accountable to the results professional? Can we grow fast enough to push the company to the next stage? Do we have complementary skills to each other’s weaknesses? We have to be objective when we are working together, even if we are friends.
On a somewhat unrelated note, our team would really want to be thankful towards the friends that helped us pro bono throughout the journey. Many of them were our earliest believers and our strongest supporters (you know who you are!!) Many of our friends helped part-time, and a little bit here and there. With their help and early support, we managed to get the first step out. So thank you. 🙂
We try our best to emulate what we learned in the Bay Area during our NOC stint!
We are mission focussed instead of task-focussed. We put a lot of trust in each other to take ownership of their own objectives and key results. Therefore, we don’t really have fixed working hours.
We also shoot for efficiency, so we had something called “Remote Wednesdays” where our team members work from home once a week even before the COVID-19 regulations. We believe it helps with productivity and focus.
Lastly, we have a lot of fun in the process! Check out our Instagram #joinstaffany where we occasionally post the informal stuff that we do at work!
Yes we do! We call it dogfooding. We don’t use it for generating payroll as our team as we don’t really deal with workers who are paid by the hour. Rather, we use it to make sure the product is good and allow us to find any bugs or potential areas of improvement.
A good day at work is when things get done and we move one step closer to our dreams and aspirations. That can include anything from new product releases, getting new customers or having new people joining our team. A bad day at work would mean losing a deal or making mistakes here and there or having an unproductive day.
However, I don’t think we would classify my days as good days and bad days as this journey is a marathon. One bad day doesn’t mean that it’s a bad experience. Our team is pretty open about that if you have a bad day it’s fine. Just take a break earlier and come back the next day to fight harder. There is always another day.
Our team believes that culture building is a very intentional process. We started out with a few core values when we first founded the company as a team. These core values include things like ownership, thinking far, being open, being mission-focussed, and taking calculated risks. The best way to build such values is to practise what you preach and have shared experiences together. We do our best to adapt and improve along the way!
Our team is thinking if we could be more strategic in our approach moving forward and to see if we can make bolder bets.
Five years is a long time! We hope that by then we will be able to manage to change how hourly work is being performed. We hope to be the best in what we do, do it well and make a difference.
We also expand regionally, beyond Singapore, within the next five years!
I’m very thankful for the experience to learn from Tak Miyata, the general partner of the fund as well as Austin Arensberg, the principal that I was working directly under. It did help me think like a Venture Capitalist (VC). I gained a better perspective of solving problems at scale. It gave me insights on business models and learnings on what goes behind investment decisions that are made by VCs.
Right now, it is getting cheaper and easier to launch solutions. The best way to do a startup is to just get out and do it. Reid Hoffman’s quote — “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — is a piece of advice I would readily give. I believe that founders should time-box their efforts and launch something simple and lovable and not over-engineer and overbuild their products.
Try and make something, get it out there, validate your ideas, and iterate. If it works out, well you made a great impact. If it doesn’t, pivot!