This article was originally published here: Janson Seah – CEO & Co-founder of StaffAny.
The frustration of managing the schedules of hourly workers led Janson Seah to find a more efficient route which he now shares with a variety of businesses.
What’s your story?
I used to manage a bar in 2014 and felt the pain point of managing hourly workers; I realised that the tools available to manage shift workers were ineffective. Operational processes like scheduling and timesheet management were painful and prone to errors and it was difficult to better the performance of the hourly workforce.
StaffAny started off as a school project in 2017. Fast forward, I co-founded StaffAny with Kai Yi, Jeremy and Eugene on a venture creation module in 2018 whilst on the NUS overseas college program and never looked back.
What excites you most about your industry?
We serve multiple industries from F&B, Retail, Healthcare to Logistics. As long as you work with deskless team members who don’t have fixed working hours, you’d be a great fit!
One secret is that the current tools HR and Ops professionals are using to deal with scheduling and time management are super outdated – resulting in overworked HR professionals, as the administration is tedious and prone to error.
We believe the future of workforce management will be mobile-first so that HR and Ops professionals can get a great product experience anytime and anywhere!
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Entrepreneurship to me is creating value through innovation, and I decided to be an entrepreneur alongside my co-founders because of the potential impact we can make to people and communities. What drives us in going forward is when we create efficiencies in allowing businesses to schedule and manage attendance faster and better – which ultimately increases the bottom line of their businesses!
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
The lean start-up mentality of experimentation and iteration! It’s a mindset applicable across different aspects of life. Best way to learn is through rapid iteration and on-the-go learning. We’re not encouraging haphazard execution, but a time-bound planning phase before improving while building on the work that has been done.
One example is our upcoming Auto Scheduling Module. Instead of diving into planning constraints and requirements, we decided to scope something light but powerful enough, considering quantifiable indicators and qualifiable ratings. By reducing the development cycle and beta testing, we’re able to prioritise upgrades and include features that benefit and interest users.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To give time to listen. It’s a simple piece of advice but really impactful when it’s practised!
We’ve learnt so much more by listening to customers rather than going in with a standard set of answers. With teammates, you open up a more personal and real conversation.
An example will be launching Staff Tags which was born out of a casual conversation with the client who expressed interest in tagging employees’ vaccination status. We heeded the feedback and launched the new feature which resulted in a massive take-up rate.
When we listen deeply, we understand much better and overcome our preconceived assumptions.
Who inspires you?
There are many people that have inspired me throughout my journey, particularly my early team members Jia Yi and Albert. In times when others may not buy into the vision yet, staying steadfast to the vision is amazing strength and grit we can all learn from.
Encountering multiple setbacks throughout our journey, Jia Yi and Albert never gave up on our vision and continued working towards our common goal, which is to transform the future of hourly workers.
We’re always on the lookout to work with other like-minded people who are excited to build towards something bigger than themselves
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
We recently did research on the revenue and cost structures of Food and Beverage (F&B) businesses during COVID-19. On average, F&B businesses spend about 25 – 40% of their revenue on labour costs. While this is extremely high, the ratio of labour spent increased due to the falling revenues! Surprisingly, the reduction in labour cost was lower than revenue drop, implying that Singapore businesses attempted to keep their employees at the worst of times. This narrative is not often mentioned; I thought it was extremely encouraging and positive to hear how businesses take care of their staff during adversities!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
The biggest challenge initially is convincing the value of our product to our customers. People don’t simply search for better scheduling tools as many don’t have expectations of its value. A huge part of our work is showcasing the value of cost savings and productivity gains while quantifying the ROI.
If we had our time again, we’d focus on better product marketing, showcasing the value created for our customers – highlighting hidden benefits of cost savings, time saved and the value of automating manual time and attendance consolidation! Perhaps with that, we’d be able to convince more to transform and digitalise their workforce management!
How do you unwind?
Going on culinary adventures and basking in the outdoors outside of work are some activities I indulge in! Favourite activities include hikes, treks and futile attempts at learning boardsports.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
To focus on giving value, whenever, wherever. We get into business to solve problems and improve the lives of others in some way or another. So we’re constantly shifting towards these in the different facets of our business, be it in sales, marketing, the product, design or customer success. It’s all about the value the customer receives at the end of the day. If there is no value creation, there is no business!
Everyone in business should read this 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.
Shameless plug for your business:
Since its launch in 2018, StaffAny has served key verticals such as F&B, Retail, Events and Healthcare. It’s proven to be effective by our partners including large F&B chains such as the Royal T Group and Kiosks Collective, and small business owners such as Good Luck Beerhouse and Foreword Coffee amongst others.
Our main value proposition is reducing labour costs up to 3% as well as time spent on labour management processes.
StaffAny continuously seeks to value-add our platform by offering features such as incorporating the TraceTogether requirement and free payslip generator to local businesses who struggle with managing payslips.
How can people connect with you?
You can visit our website at www.staffany.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.