Mondays feel like the weekend, your check-list seems like your bucket list, tea-time at the corner café turns into dinner plans at that swanky Italian restaurant – and many more such calamities feel like parties, if it is the first of a month. And why not – most of us are at the receiving end of all the goodies. But your company has a crew of elves that stitches those pay cheques together. And you betcha! – they also end up working through the night more often than not.
A certain Wharton graduate couldn’t have that. “I spent a summer at my family’s executive search business, only to learn that most of our HR processes were manually managed in Excel. As I explored solutions in the market, I realised that there were none that really fit our need. Applications were either too complex, expensive, or not very user-friendly. In fact, most of the technology innovation in India was directed either towards the consumer or the large enterprise market. The Indian SME was the neglected stepchild that continued to manage its processes manually, leading to disproportionately low tech adoption rates by SMEs in India,” says Nigel Lobo.
As a result, his mission was to do his part in increasing tech adoption by Indian SMEs, by building a product catering to their requirements and budgets.
“During my time at Wharton, I started developing the idea for Quikchex, emerging as a finalist at the Wharton India Economic Forum Startup Competition, as well as a semi-finalist at the Wharton Business Plan Competition. After graduating from Wharton, I moved back to India and started building out the Quikchex platform,” says the founder and CEO of Quikchex.
Most small businesses manage their HR processes highly inefficiently. For example, at the end of the payroll cycle, the HR manager rushes to collate the attendance and leave data from biometric devices, excel sheets, and emails to provide the accounts team with inputs for the payroll process. The accounts team then manually runs the payroll either in Excel or through archaic payroll software. The finance manager then forwards the payroll output to a compliance consultant who takes care of compliance filings, such as PF, PT, and ESIC.
Quikchex, as the name suggests, is a unique cloud-based platform that integrates these HR processes like attendance, leave, and payroll with each other, thereby eliminating the need to manually collect and sync the data. Once the payroll is run, all payroll, tax, and compliance reports are automatically generated, and the Quikchex Support Team takes care of all tax and compliance filings. It significantly streamlines the process by eliminating multiple workflows and acting as a single point for all HR, payroll, and compliance.
“Our product stands tall on a balance of scope and usability. While most products are built for domain experts, others might look simple but are limited in scope. We have basically built it for the non-HR domain experts. When companies are setting up and training their personnel, it takes them anywhere between two weeks and two months to get them acclimatised, whereas on our platform, they can play around with it for an hour and become experts at it,” says Nigel.
Explaining the different plans they have to offer to companies of different sizes – he says, “Our self-service plan where we do the migration and support, but our client then runs the product. The hybrid plan is where the company takes care of their payroll, and once that is done, our team manages the PF, the ESIC, and all of those components. Our third plan is a full service one where we assign an account manager who helps them running the payroll for larger companies with more complicated processes.”
With leave, attendance, and payroll all integrated efficiently on their software, the HR department has the leisure to spend time on other core processes like recruitment, vetting, safety guidelines, training, etc., which will always require the human touch.
“Part of the allure of a SaaS business model is the scalability of the customer acquisition process.” Customer visits your website, signs up for a trial account, puts in credit card details, and your application gets millions of users. Yeah, in a perfect world! “Unfortunately, in India you realise that when selling B2B, software is always sold – it is never bought. Customers are hesitant to deviate from the status quo, unless they feel like they have thoroughly vetted the product. This has led to longer sales cycles than we earlier anticipated,” says Nigel.
Despite these constraints that are a part of a larger problem in mindsets, Quikchex has grown quickly since entering the market in April 2014. It is presently serving over 15,000 employees on its platform, and processes close to Rs 550 crores of payroll on an annual run-rate basis. Apart from the traditional tech startup clients like TinyOwl, CouponDunia, and Coverfox, it also works with a number of companies in more traditional sectors like manufacturing and retail.
Over the next 18 months, they aim to increase their total Employees Under Management or ‘EUM’ to 50,000, with over Rs 1,800 crores of payroll being processed annually through their platform.
“In order to achieve this, we plan on tripling our headcount, specifically in terms of the number of our sales reps. Moreover, we presently have a number of innovative features in our product, which includes integration with complementary third-party cloud solutions,” adds the founder.