HR automation platform Omni wants to be the “Rupple of Southeast Asia” – TechCrunch

Omni wants to be the human resources platform to govern them all – or at least all HR related tasks. The software allows HR teams to digitize employee records, automate administrative tasks such as employee onboarding and time off management, and integrate employee data from different systems. Based in Singapore, it is currently active there and Indonesia, and plans to launch in other Southeast Asian markets after localizing labor regulations.

The startup announced today that it is coming out of stealth mode with $2.4 million in an over-subscription pre-seed round co-led by Alpha JWC Ventures and Picus Capital, with participation from FEBE Ventures, Basis Set Ventures, Ratio Ventures and Frances Kang at Horizons Ventures. It also included investments from angel investors, including former executives at US HR software companies Namely and Ultimate Software.

Omni HR was soft-launched in March 2022 and is already used by several companies, including the Indonesian investment app Ajaib. The funding will be used to add more features to Omni, including a recruiting module through Q3 and a performance enhancement module through the end of the year.

The company was founded in 2021 by Brian Ip, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, and data engineer YC Chan. Ip told TechCrunch that he had previously worked on software investing at the Goldman Sachs Growth Fund and reviewed many HR technology deals, which is how he and Chan learned about the industry.

“Through research and conversations with end users, we realized that HR software is a category that requires a lot of localization and there is still no winning product for Southeast Asia,” said Ip, adding that most local solutions only address functions limited, such as payroll.

But most of the HR teams Chan and Ip spoke to wanted a complete solution. Many still used spreadsheets or basic payroll software. Examples of work they were doing manually that could be automated by Omni include onboarding new hires, recruiting employees, evaluating performance, gathering documentation such as employee IDs, and preparing HR reports for internal management.

“From a strategic perspective, what we think makes this startup opportunity even more interesting is that we don’t see HR software as a stand-alone tool used only by the HR department,” said Chan. “Instead, we see it as a ‘system of record’ for employee information.”

Almost any application or business function in an enterprise, including software, devices, office administration, and finance, can be connected to Omni, transforming it into a software infrastructure layer.

In terms of competition, Chan said he sees two categories: local payroll software and software imported from abroad. He added that this drawback of payroll software is that they only provide basic administrative functions around payroll and are not scalable. They also lack resources for employee performance appraisals, recruiting, onboarding and document management.

Imported HR software, on the other hand, is not localized, which means they lack features like payroll modules for Southeast Asian countries, local customer support, and “sometimes even modules like time off control or management.” services that are not flexible enough to accommodate policies in a market,” said Ip.

He added that Rippling and other major US HR platforms like Gusto and Namely are not currently available outside of the US. “We believe that even if they expand internationally at some point, the location requirements and geographic focus will allow us to build a strong moat.”

Locating for each market can be quite tricky. HR managers in different countries need to collect information from different employees. For example, in Singapore, employees provide their children’s birth certificates so companies can use them to claim government reimbursements when they take childcare leave. On the other hand, companies in Indonesia collect various forms of identifying information, including KTD (resident card), KK (family card) and NPWP (tax ID).

Each country also has different workflows. In Singapore, Ip said, the probation period for permanent staff can be “extended”, but in Indonesia it is allowed a maximum of only three months, and cannot be extended or renewed.

Payroll calculations also differ from country to country and include factors such as taxes, pensions and other statutory withholdings. Time off rules also vary. For recruitment, Omni can localize by connecting to local job boards rather than US-centric ones.

Singapore and Indonesia were chosen as Omni’s first markets because the startup’s initial customer segment is technology companies and technology-adjacent verticals, in particular other venture-backed companies, Ip said. He added that “Singapore is possibly the most mature market in Southeast Asia in terms of software/cloud adoption and willingness to spend. Indonesia is one of the largest and fastest growing market opportunities in Southeast Asia.”

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