Helping companies reshape internal communication and culture: Startup Stories

Happy5 is helping companies change communication dynamics at affordable rates.

As technology evolves and disrupts many sectors, companies are adopting new technologies to shape internal culture and workplace communication between employees and management.

Today, companies seek innovative ways to improve communication with their employees, as effective communication can better align employees to reach the company’s objectives and goals.

Helping companies achieve this is the aim of Happy5, an Indonesian Software-as-a-service (SaaS) company founded in 2014 by Doni Priliandi, who is also CEO of the firm. Prior to starting the company, he was a global HR consultant at international management consulting firm Development Dimensions International.

Priliandi’s idea for Happy5 originated from analyzing people’s behavior on social networks. He found that users prefer media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to obtain or share their dose of information, scrolling through timelines with pictures and videos.

“Email won’t cut it (people are not responding to email mass), and team chat platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams work best in small groups for fast response and collaboration,” Priliandi told KrASIA in a recent interview.

He then applied similar social media concepts and friendly user-interfaces to the company’s management platform apps, namely Happy5 Culture and Happy5 Performance.

The Happy5 Culture app, their first product, provides companies with a platform to communicate with their employees. It offers real-time conversation functions, continuous feedback, surveys, and provides acknowledgement for employees. The idea is to improve the organizational culture in the company.

“The Happy5 Culture platform is an amalgamation of a larger, more global service. Its communication functions resemble that of Workplace by Facebook. Meanwhile, for the culture and engagement functions, we adapted ideas from Google’s re:Work,” Priliandi said.

Meanwhile, the Performance platform, which launched in 2017, helps enterprises manage and set specific goals, with project objectives and key results (OKR), and agile performance management.

The platform allows managers to monitor employees’ progress in tasks and the extent they have achieved company goals.

Managers are also able to give reviews and rate performances, while employees can receive continuous feedback related to the assigned tasks.

“With our product, the project leader or manager can give ratings and feedback to staff,” Priliandi explained, adding that companies that don’t want to assign ratings can opt for a yearly performance review.

”Happy5 Performance enables companies to implement agile management goals like OKR, while having a customized performance review process,” Priliandi said.

Priliandi believes that Happy5 products are already capable of competing with market leaders such as US-based SAP SuccessFactors and Workday.

“The world is changing, becoming more adaptable. That’s why we built a flexible and adaptive system. We build the system which has a built-in communication, so if there is any missed or unachieved target, the manager or employee can have a direct consultation. It is designed to increase productivity,” he explained.

SAP and Workday offer more rigid means of performance management, Priliandi said. “For instance, if the client asks for customization, they can only do this minimally. Happy5 offers the highest degree of customization for performance review.”

He added: “Facebook Workplace addresses communication, however there is no employment engagement, employee surveys or employee recognition. Meanwhile, Happy5 Culture combines those functions to offer complete solution for culture transformation.”

Priliandi noted that by using their products, customers will be able to use similar features offered by global competitors, but at a lower price. Happy5 Performance platform monthly service costs around USD 10 per employee, while Happy5 Culture costs only USD 3 per user. Other competitors prices range from USD 14 to USD 49 per member.

He shared that he has learned much from competitors and experts. “I got many ideas from my competitors, and I learned a lot from my competitor’s customers in the United States by asking them, ‘How to solve the problem and what is the solution?’”. Also, I learned from other founders and great advisors from global companies,” Priliandi told KrASIA.

He also cited personalities such as Randy Knaflic, former HR executive for Jawbone, SpaceX, and Google; as well as Nelson Mattos, former vice president of product and engineering in Google, as his sources of inspiration.

Currently, Happy5 has several major clients, including the largest Indonesian telco operator, Telkomsel, which has 5,000 employees. Other customers include state-owned multi-finance company PT Pegadaian, which has 13,000 employees. A new client is the country’s largest private bank, PT Bank BCA Tbk, whose operations involve 30,000 people.

Happy5 made USD 1.2 million in annual recurring revenue by September 2019 and has been growing 250% year-on-year for the past two years. Moreover, Priliandi said, Happy5 has been profitable since last year. The company’s revenue target for 2019 is around USD 1.5 million.

“We want to maintain our growth, at a minimum doubling it from year to year. We are focused on building a quality product and implementing change management, instead of doing aggressive promotion and sales. In a software company, the first and most important thing is user retention. We spent zero on marketing and we just hired salespeople two months ago,” he said.

Happy5 is a rarity in the tech startup scene, as the only funding it has ever received was in its early days, with angel investors and 500 Startups putting in cash that was used for hiring employers and product development. In 2017, the company went through a cash crunch that forced Priliandi to rethink his business and focus. He started focusing on generating revenue rather than burning cash from investments.

“Having profitability gives you freedom. If we get investors, it’s not because we desperately need them. We still need money for growth, but if we don’t get any, we will still stay alive,” Priliandi said.

Next year, the company plans to expand its operations to the United States, which according to Priliandi, it is more mature and holds better potential compared to Asian markets.

“In the US, although the competition is tougher, the market is a lot bigger and smarter. It is also easier for a SaaS startup to raise funds there. However, if I can get new funding here, I’d like to hire several people to speed up our sales process over there,” he shared.

Priliandi declined to disclose how much they aim to raise, however the plan is to triple the size of his engineering team in Indonesia and build the sales and marketing team in the US.

This article is part of KrASIA’s “Startup Stories” series, where the writers of KrASIA speak with founders of tech companies in South and Southeast Asia.