HR automation platform Omni wants to be the ‘ripple of Southeast Asia’ – TechCrunch
Omni wants to be the HR platform to rule them all, or at least all HR-related tasks. The software enables HR teams to digitize employee records, automate administrative tasks such as employee onboarding and leave management, and integrate employee data from different systems. Based in Singapore, it is currently active there and in Indonesia, and plans to roll out to other Southeast Asian markets after localizing for employment regulations.
The startup announced today that it is emerging from stealth mode with $2.4 million in an oversubscribed 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 of US HR software companies Namely and Ultimate Software.
Omni HR was soft-launched in March 2022 and is already used by several companies, including Indonesian investment app Ajaib. The funding will be used to add more functionality to Omni, including a recruiting module by Q3 and a performance enhancement module by the end of the year.
The company was founded in 2021 by Brian Ip, a former Goldman Sachs executive, and data engineer YC Chan. Ip told TechCrunch that he previously worked in software investing at the Goldman Sachs Growth Fund and reviewed many HR tech offerings, which is how he and Chan first learned about the industry.
“Through research and discussions with end users, we realized that HR software is a category that requires so much localization and that there is not yet a winning product for Southeast Asia,” said Ip, adding that most local solutions only deal with limited functions, like payroll.
But most of the HR teams Chan and Ip spoke to wanted an all-in-one solution. Many were still using spreadsheets or basic payroll software. Examples of work they were doing manually that can be automated by Omni include onboarding new hires, recruiting employees, performing performance reviews, collecting documents such as employee IDs, and preparing HR reports for internal management.
“From a strategic perspective, what we think makes this startup opportunity even more compelling is that we don’t see HR software as a siled tool used only by the HR department,” Chan said. “Instead, we see it as a ‘registration system’ for employee information.”
Almost any application or business function within an enterprise, including software, devices, office administration and finance, can be connected to Omni, making it a layer of software infrastructure.
In terms of competition, Chan said he sees two categories: local payroll software and software imported from overseas. He added that one disadvantage of payroll software is that it only provides basic administration functions around payroll calculation and is not scalable. They also lack features for performance reviews, recruiting, onboarding, and employee document management.
Imported HR software, on the other hand, is not localized, which means that it lacks features such as payroll modules for Southeast Asian countries, local customer support and “sometimes even modules like leave tracking or attendance management that are not flexible enough to adapt to policies. in a marketplace,” Ip said.
He added that Rippling and other leading US HR platforms like Gusto and Namely are not currently available outside of the United States. “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.”
Localization for each market can be quite complicated. HR managers in different countries need to collect different employee information. For example, in Singapore, employees provide their children’s birth certificates so companies can use them to seek government reimbursements when they take parental leave. On the other hand, Indonesian companies collect several forms of identification information, including KTD (Residence Card), KK (Family Card), and NPWP (Tax ID).
Each country also has different workflows. In Singapore, Ip said, the probationary period for permanent staff can be “extended”, but in Indonesia only a maximum of three months is allowed, and it cannot be extended or renewed.
Payroll calculations also differ from country to country and include factors such as tax, pension and other legal deductions. Leave rules also vary. For recruiting, Omni can localize by connecting to local job boards instead of US-centric sites.
Singapore and Indonesia were chosen as Omni’s first markets because the startup’s initial customer segment is made up of companies in tech and tech-adjacent verticals, especially other companies backed by technology. venture capital, said Ip. He added that “Singapore is probably the most mature market in South East Asia in terms of software/cloud adoption and willingness to spend. Indonesia is one of the biggest market opportunities and growing rapidly in Southeast Asia.