There’s always a great value added to customized products and services. “Customized” sounds good to the buyer—but not so if it costs an arm and a leg. Or the client can choose from ready-made boxes most suitable for his or her needs, which is convenient for the provider as well, but often results in pain when the box inevitably doesn’t quite fit. Or the two parties can listen to each other in crafting a product or service that could more fully satisfy both.
The makers of Payruler, “a fully customized as well as a comprehensive set of human resources (HR) software,” have sorted out this potential mess. Sounding like “payroll” as a marketing peg, “Payruler tailor-fits HR process automation for Philippine businesses,” says Jojo de Jesus. Together with his daughter, a young Computer Science graduate of UP Cebu, de Jesus heads Genii Hut Technologies, a start-up scaling up from incubation at the UP Cebu Business Incubator for Information Technology (UPCeBuInIT).
Genii Hut, with Payruler as its banner product, set out to create technologies that would fit clients’ process automation needs, sparing the clients from making major process adjustments just so they could make use of limited automation technologies pervasive in the market.
“We build software that is not boxed, that the client has to fit in the box. We actually fit the box to the client,” De Jesus reiterates. “Whenever we have a demo, we ask, what’s your pain point right now?” Then they make necessary tweaks. “For our competitors, oh, that’s already a big deal,” De Jesus observes. “We capture that peculiarity of the business process that the clients want to automate. That has become second nature to us.”
Payruler has customizable modules for recruitment and human resources information, which includes assessment for regularization, and asset and training tracking. Its timekeeping allows for multiple job shifts and tracking of overtimes and leaves. Its payroll technology automates benefits and deductions. A module for reporting makes the information ready any time. A mobile app for IOS and Android allows employers to keep track of employees, approve leaves, and sign off on business matters while on the go. Through an Employee Self Service mobile app, employees can also time in during field work, check their payslips, leaves, loans, and others.
“We sell, rent, and do the system. We sell it to big companies for them to use it themselves. For MSMEs, which can’t buy a million- or two million-peso system, they just rent monthly. For those really small, such as those with five to 10 employees, we actually do the payroll for them. They just send the time sheets to us. We do everything including reporting,” De Jesus said.
Payruler, the upstart-startup from UP Cebu, has been challenging established brands such as Oracle, SAP, Quickbooks, Sprout, Magellan, Titanium and a lot of big names in Manila and began making a dent in this market immediately after launching. Case in point: the Philippine Stock Exchange, which acquired Payruler in 2015, after a tedious selection process.
The company was established in 2014 with five people. It moved in to UP CeBuInIT a year after, where they hired two more and had their first three clients, including PSE. They initially had a cubicle and ended up using the whole room.
By word of mouth of its customized solutions, Payruler’s users have grown to around 51 since, including, to mention a few, Sky Logistics Group, a ground handler for airlines; Negros Navigation-ATS; Executive Boutique, a call center; and, TBWA, a global advertising company.
UP Cebu has seen Genii hut grow and prove its business sense.
Being in UP Cebu also looped it into the culture of cutting-edge research and development of the academe. In handling human resources—and wages and benefits already reaching more than P9 billion—the system is recipient to a huge amount of data, which is huge scientific grist. This makes the start-up not only a business incubatee, but a possible partner of UP in finding what is best for human resources in the country.
This facet of research and development for the country also makes perfect business sense. New knowledge, especially where it was produced, is always a lead advantage in the industry.
Last year, Genii hut received a grant from the Department of Science and Technology for predictive analytics. Big data will be utilized to identify flags or indicators, such as those which can be used for hires, retention, training, and costs and asset management.
“Opportunities just actually poured in when we located here,” says De Jesus. He also talks about being able to connect to networks of start-ups and organizations that support them, including the Asian Institute of Management, now the start-up’s cross-incubator. Genii hut’s collaboration with UP Cebu also resulted in a fellowship at the Royal Academy of Engineering for UP CeBuInIT.
With the DOST grant, the company is set to increase its 15-person staff, hopefully with researchers from the University. Currently, three of the 15 are from UP Cebu. They hold strategic positions and carry with them expertise in management, computer science, and mass communication.
“We are a group of people from different fields. So, it was just a good mix of people coming together,” De Jesus, an industrial engineer, says. It also helped that their first two clients were large manpower and manpower logistics companies. De Jesus dreads the thought of his team being composed of all engineers. He himself did not know anything about HR. “We engineers are bound to just out-compute each other,” he jokes.
But to be open to and embrace peculiarities and differences is something which is probably not new to De Jesus, having come from 30 years of working in several capacities in the business circles of Cebu. Now, this is his team’s key to finding solutions.