Suwandi Soh, CEO and Co-founder of Sleekr (Photo: Brilio.net/Retno Wulandari)
Suwandi left his job as director of a consulting firm to start something new.Retno Wulandari 21 January 2017 10:19
It's not every day someone willingly leaves his comfort zone to start something new from scratch.
Suwandi was a director in an established business consulting firm —a position he had held since he was only 23 years old.
"The company was like my own baby. I nurtured it since its birth," he recalled.
In 2014, he was intrigued to try something new and a startup company named Sleekr was founded. A year later, Sleekr lauched its product. After making sure his old company is in good hands, Suwandi left his position as director and joined Sleekr full time in September 2016.
You left your former company to establish a startup. Can you tell me more about it?
We call it Sleekr. The name is derived from the word "slick". It’s a cloud-based human resources software aiming to make finance and human resource management in a company smoother and more streamlined. We want to make employees and executives' lives easier.
So, how does it work?
We use online platform and mobile application. Employees can request days off, manage reimbursements, get payslips, through the app. Human resources department then can get the data in real time basis. There is also Sleekr Accounting feature that can help finance department manage payroll, taxes, and other financial affairs.
Before Sleekr, you were a director of a well-established consulting company. Why did you choose to leave and start things over?
Everything is changing, and so are we. I believed we were doing something good. We built Sleekr with local startups and small businesses in mind. We wanted to make something that is really useful, easy to use, and affordable, in order to enhance small businesses in our country.
This may sound exaggerated, but we know that we have promising startups and small business in Indonesia. They have very good products and ideas, but they have no adequate human resources and accounting system, and this problem has been hindering them from further expansion. For instance, without a good administration system, small business will face difficulties to get a bank loan. We’re here to make it easier for them. So, I believe I have to do this.
And how did you start Sleekr?
I have a background in business process improvement, and in my former company, I was often troubled by unsystematic human resource and finance management. People were frustrated because they don’t know whether their reimbursement is being processed, whether they still have days-off, why their salaries were deducted, and stuff like that. Executives were also frustrated because they have to manually count employees’ salaries at the end of every month. I realized that this situation needed a solution.
At the same time, my brother Dirman had a tech-company specializing in website and application building. His company had just made an application for their client, and I thought that it could be used in my own company. We developed the app further, and quite surprisingly, many companies were interested in using the app as well.
From that point, we knew that we could develop our own startup, and the app would be our product.
We initially funded the startup by bootstrapping, but last year we found an investor.
In your opinion, why do startups fail?
The devil is in the product, and then there's also timing. It takes more than a good product to make a startup survive and grow. You can have amazing products to offer, but if people don’t what them, you’re doomed. Sometimes you create a good product but the timing is bad. How often we saw a company go broke because their product didn’t sell well, but then two years later, another company with the same product prevailed.