New technologies have made life easier for startups. The whole ‘blank-as-a-service’ industry has allowed companies to outsource highly technical, resource-intensive activities to third-party vendors who use economies of scale to bring the price down across the board.
Startups can now avail themselves of a whole host of outsourcing solutions, leading to the creation of a new ‘aaS’ acronym every other week. A Singaporean consultancy and management startup by the name of Alpha7 wants to add another acronym to the list with a service it is calling COOaaS (Chief Operating Officer-as-a-Service).
The company, which has secured a seed funding round of S$500,000 (about US$400,000), intends to provide cloud advisory, assessment and technical implementation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore and Southeast Asia. According to SPRING Singapore, 99 per cent of all enterprises in Singapore are SMEs, employing seven out of every 10 workers, and contributing nearly half of national GDP.
Alpha7 intends to work with businesses across several commercial sectors, including professional services, technology, energy, mobile commerce and medical services.
The company was founded around a year ago by CEO Lynette Seah, who was most recently Vice President of Finance and Strategy (APAC) at Salesforce.com. In a meeting with media, Seah said, “We help SMEs assess needs, evaluate technology options and implement the best solution, across some departments, or across the entire organisation. We are the (outsourced) right-hand man of the CEO, working towards a common objective of improving the company’s bottomline through technology.”
“Since few SMEs employ Chief Operating Officers (COOs), we become the (outsourced) COO, a unique service proposition in Singapore. COOaaS aligns a firm’s people, processes and technologies with their priorities, constraints and budgets, allowing them to grow rapidly and efficiently,” she added.
The logic here, according to her, is that having a dedicated COO is sometimes difficult for many SMEs and thus, founders often have to juggle roles. Using the cloud, Seah wants to outsource those duties including the implementation of CRM software, HR, marketing, inventory management and the like to Alpha7’s team in order to allow the client company to focus on actually growing the business.
Currently, the company has 16 clients in Singapore and the region including some noted names like business software provider Boardroom and healthcare provider Park Lane Medical
COOaas is an online platform where SMEs can pick and choose the cloud applications that would best support them. These apps would be curated by Alpha7 and also be offered in bundle packs that would differ by industry and client requirements. The companies would then use these tools to gauge the data and effects they would normally need an on-site COO to glean.
Currently, Alpha7 has upwards of 20 partners include CRM solutions such as Sugar, Salesforce and Quickbooks.
The company monitises via a subscription service, which is to say that Alpha7 takes a monthly fee, depending on the services and complexity of the business.
Seah added that the COOaaS business will spun out as a separate entity in H1 2015, and plans to raise Series A funding of S$1.5 million to S$3 million (about US$1.2 million to US$2.4 million). The investment will be used to fund product development, recruitment and marketing.
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