With nearly $1.2 bn invested in quarter three of 2018 in the HR tech space globally, the pace of venture capital investment in the sector is picking up. It is stipulated by a report by Grand View Research Inc. that the global HR industry is projected to reach $30 bn by 2025. Technological innovations in the field of big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are already making an impact in the HR tech space and many new startups in the space are emerging all over the world.
48 of these startups from the HR technology world showcased their solutions and participated in the People Matters TechHR Conference that was held on 28th of February, 2019 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
For the last five years, People Matters Startup Program was being hosted in India as part of People Matters TechHR Conference. But this year as Asia’s largest technology conference marked its footprints for the first time in Singapore, the scope of the startup program got wider and encompassed startups from across the globe.
Startups in the Tech HR 2019 program
While a majority of the startups were from Singapore, many startups were from countries like Russia, Australia, Spain, Indonesia and also India, among others. Out of these 48 startups, 27 are catering to recruitment related challenges and about 5 offer L&D solutions for corporates. Other participants provide solutions for HRMS, Compensation, and Benefits and People Analytics.
Overall, startups are increasingly relying on new age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Chatbots to attack specific problems in the HR domain. Most startups also seemed to focus on the user experience and many products showcased were around creating a mobile-first environment.
Selection process & Mentors
To be eligible to participate, the startups needed to be less than 5 years in business with a scalable and unique product or service in the space of Workforce Experience and Productivity, Enterprise Benefits, Workforce Healthcare, Gig Economy and Robotics/Automation.
At the conference, the startups were asked to present their ideas to a panel of 28 mentors that included top investors, VCs and HR leaders. The startups were allotted 6 minutes (3 minutes to introduce unique features of their product and 3 minutes for Q&A). The mentors then evaluated the elevator pitches of the startups and their HR tech products on three major parameters:
- How well the company is solving the industry problem?
- Is their product/service unique and scalable?
- Is the company making an impact on the business/industry that they are claiming?
The mentors included names like Kevin Low, Venture Capital Investments, Singapore Press Holdings, SPH Ventures; Angela Toy, Director, Portfolio Strategy & Operations, Golden Gate Ventures; Maclean S Raphael, HR-Southeast Asia Region, 3M Asia Pacific; Simon Childs, Managing Director, ENRG Hong Kong Limited and Nikhil Kapur, Principal & Investment Head (South Asia), GREE Ventures, among others.
HR tech Startups: The future ahead
The 48 emerging startups solving challenges in the various function of HR represent the growing HR tech market and also reflect how the solutions are becoming more mature and how more and more innovators are leveraging newer technologies. While on one hand, this flourishing sector brings good news and a variety of choices for the HR community, it also increases the level of competition in the market. How these different emerging startups make a place and increase their market share in their own segments is to look forward to. In the coming years, as the competition among these startups gets tougher, the entire HR industry will benefit through the emergence of newer and more mature solutions for their people and work-related challenges.
The startup experience
People Matters TechHR Singapore Conference 2019 gave these 48 startups an opportunity to not just pitch their ideas to some of the key investors in the industry but also allowed them to exhibit their solutions to their end users, the HR community. Recruitment tech startup SmartDreamers shared, “People Matters TechHR Singapore was like a dream come true opportunity for HR startups.” In a blog, a Romania based startup mentioned, “With so many HR leaders from diverse companies and industries present at the conference it was easy to learn about what tools are currently being implemented and to what ends. And also gain insights from speakers and innovators on their visions for the future of the HR software ecosystem.”
Another Singapore-based startup, Botbot.AI that enables organizations with self-serve dashboards to power up their productivity shared that the significant exposure the conference gave them was extremely useful. Chelsea Sim, Co-Founder Botbot. AI stated that “The one to one sessions with mentors allowed us to have a deeper conversation with great investors about the business, its opportunities, and growth.” Taking the lessons from the experts at the conference and their experience, Botbot.AI will now focus on integrating with other HR tech companies and partnering to learn more about the market. Even IoT Talent drew the same lesson from their experience in the program and stated, “Collaboration through the ecosystem will definitely be a key strategy to grow a startup. Partnering with another company with complementary expertise can ultimately enrich our content, offerings and attract a wider engaged audience as a result.”
While Botbot.AI and IoT Talent will focus on collaboration, another startup with a solution in compensation and benefits space, Swingvy will now work on building a more unique value proposition and build a combination of HR tech and Insurtech.