Acceleprise-backed Philippines payroll startup Sprout to expand in SE Asia

Visual from company website

Manila-based Human Resource (HR) and payroll solutions startup Sprout Solutions – which recently got accepted into Silicon Valley enterprise SaaS accelerator Acceleprise, is gearing up to expand into other Southeast Asia (SEA) markets.

Incorporated in 2015, the company has achieved traction in the Philippines and might sooner or later expand its business in India, Indonesia and Malaysia, said Sprout co-founder and CEO Patrick Gentry in an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA.

Gentry said, Sprout’s goal is to help companies focus on growing their business through the power of locally grown and global-quality software. The startup envisions to address major headaches of businesses in the most convenient way, but more importantly to optimise a company’s workforce.

Edited excerpts:

Please take us through Sprout’s journey?

Sprout Solutions began in 2015 with me wearing all hats. Employee number one joined in May last year, and since then the company now has a powerhouse team of over 40. Our HR and payroll platforms fully automate timekeeping and attendance from the finger scanner all the way down to payout. Sprout is replacing spreadsheets and printed forms with biometrics, single-click processing and prescriptive analytics in emerging markets.

Also Read: Philippines: Future Now Ventures backs payroll, HR software firm Salarium

Any investment updates from the company?

We have bootstrapped it so far, no big funding rounds yet. Sprout Solutions has recently been handpicked by Acceleprise, a prestigious enterprise software accelerator, to undergo a four-month accelerator programme in the middle of the world’s tech hub – Silicon Valley. I with my wife and Sprout co-founder Alex Gentry have packed our bags, along with our two toddlers, and have been with the programme since July. This engagement comes with a $50,000 investment from Acceleprise for a very small amount of equity. Sprout plans a Series A round a bit later when it’s needed. Acceleprise is the only industry investor – the ownership lies primarily with the founders.

How do you compare Sprout to other HR and payroll service businesses?

Sprout is a SaaS model built specifically for HR professionals in the country to have optimum user experience when it comes to handling HR and payroll processes. We are the only provider in the country to truly automate the complex payroll and timekeeping process that exists for BPOs and other time-sensitive industries in the Philippines.

Also Read: Philippines: Landbank, RiteMed, Voyager launch fintech service for medical aid

How do you compare Sprout with other players in the same space?

Sprout prides on the amount of experience it has in the industry, user friendly interface, excellent customer support, prolific development team, and its core competence ― automation of end to end processes from timekeeping to payout.

What is the roadmap ahead?

Sprout has a lot of runway left in the Philippines. This is a very under-served market with enterprise software, and there is a huge need locally for our solutions. We do plan to expand to India, Indonesia, Malaysia and other developing countries in the region. We are focused on Southeast Asia, and plan to be the regional leader in HR and payroll.

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What is your assessment of the overall HR/payroll service business in the Philippines?

Around 48 per cent of companies in the Philippines are still using manual processes for HR and payroll. That’s still a relatively big number compared to developed countries. It’s also one of the reasons why the Philippines ranks 97th in the world in terms of “ease of doing business”.

HR and payroll is a big pain point for companies in the Philippines, and we want to help with that. Many years ago, only big companies like Coca-Cola, or Toyota could afford to automate their HR processes. Companies like SAP and ADP offer expensive solutions that are only affordable to large companies. But now, Sprout Solutions, and a few others in the market, are here to provide great quality software at affordable rates – this opens up powerful software automation to a huge market of customers that weren’t previously able to use it.

Also Read: Indonesia: HR SaaS company Rekruta raises seed round from East Ventures

What do you think of the startup climate in the Philippines?

The startup climate in the Philippines is definitely exciting. There are so many new innovations coming out from the Philippines, and we really believe that the country is only scratching the surface. We have a long way to go as a startup ecosystem, to support and nourish innovative young companies.

In the coming years, the startup scene in the Philippines will just get better and Sprout wants to be a part of that. We want to be part of the movement and help companies here succeed. We’re actually introducing a program this Q4 or early 2017 that will benefit startups in the Philippines. It comes from our studies of industry best practices that we’ve had here in Silicon Valley.

Also Read: Malaysia: HR startup Kakitangan raises $240K via crowdfunding platform pitchIN