The business dynamics are rapidly evolving today, and the challenge for most organisations is to keep up with the change and have their internal systems intact. The Human Resource (HR) departments at companies are no less in this context, with accelerated technological innovation and employees demanding personalised attention. “Traditional HR disparate platforms, processes, and practices were no longer yielding results. There was a dire need to have a business lean, employee-centric, and agile HR platform that self-evolves,” says Prasad Rajappan, Founder and MD, ZingHR. This led Prasad to start ZingHR in 2014. From startups to medium-sized businesses and Fortune 500 companies, ZingHR works with a cross-section of industries to deliver business strategy alignment, team execution, and maximum people performance.
It claims to adopt an employee-centric, mobile-first approach covering the entire employee life cycle – from recruitment to exit. Some of the features offered by the company include an employee self-service portal, employee data management, leave management platform, claims management, and payroll processing. The Mumbai-headquartered startup is currently used by over five lakh employees in more than 500 companies. The startup was a part of the Microsoft Accelerator batch of June 2014. Its current employee strength stands at 365, and has offices in countries like Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Australia. The back story Prasad was working with Reliance Industries, and as a law-abiding citizen, was filing tax returns regularly through a friend who was a chartered accountant. One day, he received a notice from the Income Tax department, and he panicked. “Terrified, I rushed to my friend for advice. He gave me a form and asked me to sign it. Refusing to explain the situation to me, he said he would take care of everything. This incident acted as an eye-opener for me. I realised that I might have been overreacting, but the fact remained that a literate person like me was also ignorant and was dependent on a third party.” The incident made Prasad think twice and motivated him to start a venture that would educate citizens about tax obligations and opportunities. He started a web portal under the name www.filemyreturns.com, with a vision to teach citizens on their tax obligations in a simple mechanism and help them make informed decisions. From tax returns, the product offering gradually diversified to payroll, HR, compliance, and HR Innovations. Today, the company reports to be clocking one million in employee records, and a cloud human capital management (HCM) platform designed to cater to complex enterprises. The model differentiation and technology Prasad says the startup thrives on driving business outcomes. According to him, the team is particularly distinctive in bringing in lean HR, employee experience, and performance culture as the driving principles to achieve definitive business goals like top-line, EBITDA margins, and people’s engagement. Prasad claims that CXOs are loving this approach where HR has the potential to impact business outcomes rather than having fancy automation goals, which are nothing more than mere means to an end. Keeping this approach in mind, Zing has coined the term ‘Outcomation’, which essentially focuses on business outcomes rather than just automation. “We were one of the early proponents of cloud-based multi-tenant HR platform. The time when enterprises were using multiple platforms with a combination of external products and many with internally developed modules, we offered a zero cap-ex comprehensive platform. One of the initial customers was HBL Global, now a part of HDB Financial Services (a HDFC Bank company). Today, the company has over 70,000 employees using our platform.” ZingHR uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on top of its tech stack. “Robotic Interviews harness AI to assess the candidates through an automated interview process with no human intervention, capturing the behavioural data on the basis of the questions answered by the interviewee. Chatbots, which are trained based on the Q&As fed in on the basis of which it can be better equipped to tackle employee queries,” he says. Prasad adds that the value proposition lies in its integrated hire-to-retire platform that is modular and scalable on the elastic Cloud. The engine is designed comprehensively enough to serve both startups and complex enterprises. The tools include mobile, cloud, analytics, workforce, and social sourcing tools for hiring. ZingHR follows a cloud-based pay-per-use SaaS model, and enterprises can pay for specific modules that they subscribe to. The startup reports to be cash positive with around $7 million in annual recurring revenue, and plans to achieve $22 million by 2022. Funding and future plans ZingHR received its initial round of seed funding from Erasmic Venture Fund, founded by Subrata Mitra, Prashanth Prakash, Mahendran Balachandran, and Gagan Kumar, which was acquired by Accel Partners, and Mumbai Angels also participated in the round. Other investors include Bhavin Turakhia of Zeta and Dev Raman of Triton. “Later, we raised another small seed round from Zeta and Triton. In total, we have just raised about $2.5 million and achieved a run rate of $7 million in ARR, which is being considered by many industry experts as a very frugal way and a highly capital efficient way of creating a profitable SaaS company.” With competition from greytHR, Darwinbox, SumHR, SAP success factors and the likes, ZingHR is finding its own place in the global HR technology market that is poised to be worth $34 billion by the year 2021. According to a report, almost $3.6 billion worth of that business is expected to come from Asia, including India. Going forward, the team aims to broaden its reach to organisations across the globe and across all verticals. On the tech front, it is looking to build a hybrid ecosystem in order to give its customers more flexibility of options, greater security, and privacy of data.