By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, Special Features and Content Senior Writer
Three startups that have dominated the Impact ‘23 Software as a Service (SaaS) challenge showcased their business-to-business (B2B) solutions during the 2023 SaaScon PH.
Powered by Sprout Solutions and Kaya Founders, Impact ‘23 is an eight-week startup accelerator challenge that aims to highlight the B2B innovations of local and international early-stage startups.
“Impact ‘23 really started with a vision to uncover and empower the next wave of digital companies that are reimagining what the future of B2B software could look like…,” Raya Buensuceso, managing director of Kaya Founders, said during the conference held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom on March 28.
The grand winner of the Impact ‘23 challenge was Olivia, followed by Smile API as the first runner-up, and Umwelt.ai as the second runner-up.
Olivia seeks to simplify the accounts payables process through automation.
“Over 60% of employees are frustrated by the expense management process. It costs companies a lot of money because it is tedious, prone to error, and inefficient. So, at Olivia, we automate this for the employees, their managers, and accounting departments,” Olivia CEO Jocelyn Pantastico said.
To create an expense report with Olivia, one would simply need to scan the receipt and the algorithms would extract the information needed, especially those that the Bureau of Internal Revenue required. This reduces the time spent on manual encoding.
“We built Olivia for the Philippines. Our patent-pending scan combined with dictate capabilities are customized to what we experienced here. We also auto-generate tax-compliant reports so that counting doesn’t have to do double work,” Ms. Pantastico further explained.
Olivia’s system is processing 20,000 receipts and invoices monthly. The startup has a 45% lead of velocity rate, putting it up for growth over the next few months, said Ms. Pantastico.
For 2023, Olivia plans to grow 10 times, driven by partnerships with human resources information systems (HIRS) platforms, accounting firms, and banks. It is also looking to leverage the government’s e-invoicing initiative.
As the grand winner of Impact ‘23, Olivia receives a venture capital investment amounting to $100,000 from Kaya Founders.
Smile API, meanwhile, developed a solution to streamline and automate the process of background checking, such as of job applicants.
“We automatically capture a person’s employment information, whether it’s from their current or previous employer, from the HR (human resources) payroll systems, or government systems like SSS, NBI, the Professional Regulatory Commission, and others. Or if you’re a gig worker, we can also collect information from platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and so on. And we aggregate this so we can create a comprehensive profile of an individual, specifically focused on their identity, contact information, employment history, NBI clearance, and even their actual income,” explained Jan Alvin Pabellon, chief product officer of Smile API.
To use the platform, the hiring manager would provide information, then Smile would do the rest. Applicants would receive an invitation and be asked for their consent to collect their information.
Aside from recruitment, Smile has been utilized by clients in various use cases such as consumer lending and data aggregation.
Smile API users have expanded over 30% month-on-month since February 2022. Mr. Pabellon said their customers reported reductions of 67% in the time spent for background check and 75% in the cost to process.
Enhancing employee engagement, performance, and retention is the focus of the Impact ‘23 second runner-up Umwelt.ai, an employee experience and analytics platform.
“As CEOs and HR heads, we struggle to get real-time insights into how our employees feel and why. Employees, they feel disconnected, neglected, disengaged, and ultimately, they find other jobs,” Umwelt.ai CEO and founder Vishal Chopra addressed.
The startup offers an employee engagement chatbot called Nikki, which would serve as the organization’s chief listening engagement and people analytics officer. The chatbot connects and listens to employees, gives real-time insights into the drivers of employee experience, and analyzes sentiments from the feedback it received.
Nikki is also able to detect employees who are seemingly unhappy, disengaged, or at risk of leaving the company. The chatbot generates real-time alerts so HR can act and make employees engaged and motivated.
Umwelt.ai currently has more than 10,000 paid users. It has reached employees across over 200 locations in six countries.
Participants of Impact ‘23 present solutions on one of the three categories, which include From Hire to Retire: Managing the Employee Life Cycle; The Future of SaaS: Enabling a Fintech-powered Landscape; and The Post-ERP Era is Here: What’s Next?. From over 60 applications received, 10 were selected to go on the eight-week accelerator program, where they got mentorship and access to API (application programming interface).
“More than anything, what we wanted to achieve through Impact ‘23 was to bring together the ecosystem and to foster an environment of collaboration and innovation, which we hope will continue to characterize the future of SaaS and the startup scene at large,” Kaya Founders’ Ms. Buensuceso said.
As the top three winners of Impact ‘23, Olivia, Smile API, and Umwelt.ai were given a chance to present their solutions in front of other founders and enterprises as well as investors that attended this year’s SaaScon PH.
Through discussions on the current state of SaaS and artificial intelligence; growth lessons for the country’s SaaS startups; investing in SaaS; and supporting digital startups that can shape industries, among others, SaaScon PH sought to explore the next wave of digital transformation in the Philippines.