Expert Interview with Girish Rowjee, Co-Founder of Greytip

Nilam Oswal

Nilam Oswal

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: January 8, 2018

Since 1994, Greytip Software is specialist in HR & Payroll software. With a customer base of over 5000+ customers it touches the lives of more than 750000+ employees. Headquartered in Bangalore, Greytip significant presence in India’s Megacities, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi NCR, Pune and also has presence in UAE.

What according to you are the major pillars on which Greytip stands upon?

Ans: Greytip Software, as a company, stands upon these following values as its pillars:

  • High Customer Focus
  • Reliability
  • Continuous improvement
  • Unparalleled domain expertise

greytHR, our product, stands upon the following features as its pillars:

  • Relevant and very useful Features
  • 100 % statutory compliance
  • Timely and highly responsive Support
  • Continuous enhancements based on changing needs and our learnings from working with large number of clients always

How did you hit upon the idea for your company?

Ans: In 1994, Sayeed Anjum and I set out on our own just after we completed our engineering studies. We wrote a bulletin board software and got our first order from Unilever.

There was no looking back from there. We moved to Bangalore by 1998 and founded a 15-member company that was into ERP programs. By 1999, we had launched our first payroll module and had about 40 clients, who used it for their basic payroll software needs.

That was the seed sown for what you know as greytHR today.

How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Ans: We work in multiple areas to create an offering that is superior to what others can offer.

One of the core areas where we work in is the product. Creating a complex business software that can cater to 50-100 customers calls for a certain skill set. But engineering a single product that can scale to 5000-10000 customers calls for a very different mindset in terms of how the software is developed. We bring a very superior product engineering mindset which today has enabled us to create a product that is robust, highly reliable and has consistently proven to scale across a large number of customers.

Secondly, a very big differentiator is our model of consistently enhancing the product with newer and more relevant features. We continuously enhance the software based on the inputs that we receive from our clients. This ensures that our users benefit from the shared experience of other users, are able to continually improve their process and also cut down the time and effort that they need to put in their operations. The sheer size of our clients, their inputs and our efforts to incorporate enhancements are something that our clients would not be able to get from other vendors in the market.

We are very big on Customer Success. We work hard to ensure that the application will be well utilized and will serve the needs of our clients. We have built a very responsive support team that can provide timely and relevant customer support for our clients. This ensures high usability and enables our clients to acquire full value from the software.

We do not bind our clients with annual contracts or pre-paid models. Clients do not need to make any significant payments. A client can stop using the software at any point in time with no commitments or liabilities.We challenge ourselves to be relevant and useful to our clients to ensure their retention. This results in our clients getting a very superior experience when they use Greytip.

How have sales evolved since you first got into the business? What hasnt changed?

Ans: Sales have evolved significantly in many areas and have also remained same in many others.

When we started, the Internet was not a significant source of information. Offline events, Word of mouth referrals and vendors doing an outbound call was the primary means of collecting information or building awareness for us vendors.

This has evolved since then. Today, clients have extensive access to information. The internet has democratized the access. Most clients do a preliminary check and information gathering before reaching out or inviting vendors and engaging with them. Information sites like Software Suggest also play a significant role in making this information available.

What has not changed is the process where clients requirement of talking to or meeting vendors and then moving forward on the engagement. Additionally, the importance of word of mouth/client referrals as a major source of confidence building on the vendor has also not changed. This plays an as important role in the Sales process as it did earlier. In our case, the 100+ testimonials or the fact that a large part of our sales source being word of mouth referrals is proof of this fact.

Would you rather be respected or feared?

Ans: We would rather be respected and not feared. Respect lasts long and has a much better legacy than fear. Fear is temporary; its fleeting nature is known from how soon it dies when its source is no more alive or active!

Think of something youve done in the past; what would you have done differently?

Ans: We have had our fair share of mistakes and missteps.

In hindsight, if I would do something different, it would be in the area of Focus.

As a small organization, in our early days, I felt that we took up a large problem and believed that we could help our customers solve all parts of it. This was a big challenge and maybe we were not adequately resourced to solve it. We took up the entire gamut of HR functions in an organization and wrote software to bring efficiencies in multiple areas.

This really helped us gain our first set of customers, but we found it very difficult to scale as each sub-module required significant investments and attention to make them world class. I guess we could not make it happen.

But we did realize this and made changes to our strategy and product lines. I believe this change really helped us scale to 5000+ clients today.

How do you approach a decision where people disagree with you?

Ans: Have you heard about A/B Testing? It’s a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or app against each other to determine which one performs better. A/B testing is essentially an experiment where two or more variants of a page are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis is used to determine which variation performs better for a given conversion goal.

Similarly, I strongly evaluate what the other person (could be an employee, vendor, partner, client, investor, etc.) says and why is he/she saying so. If there is empirical data or evidence-based arguments, then we both tend to tilt towards its favorable and logical conclusion. If based on hunches and gut feelings or instincts, we try out A/B testing of both our decisions and see what works best.

In the end, it’s never about who gets the credit but about what’s best for the product, client and the company.

What do you expect to see over the next 5 to 10 years in the industry?

Ans: Over the next five to 10 years, the HRMS industry will have completely moved to the cloud. Most of the current cloud-based software will have incorporated AI into their solution offerings.

From an SME POV, most SMEs and MSMEs would’ve adopted cloud-based HR & payroll software and on-premises software would be on the decline. Spreadsheets, as an option to calculate payroll and perform HR reporting tasks, would be unheard of and extremely rare.

Data-driven recommendations

Data-driven recommendations will be commonplace for hiring, learning, retention and even leadership development. Your HR software will ‘recommend’ people, experts, programs and management changes, rather than just give you lots of reports to run.

More social engagement

In the coming years, we’ll look to an HRMS to be a go-to tool for social engagement, integrating HR tasks into an employee’s daily activities instead of being a one-off activity, like logging in to view a paycheck. Your HR teams will need to be ready to support this changing way of thinking about the HR Management System.

Mobile First

Mobile first’ is becoming a common expectation in most areas such as sales, marketing, and retail, where more efforts are placed into creating mobile apps than into traditional computing technology. This trend is already occurring in the HRMS space. Five years from now, mobile first will be the norm. You have to start thinking now about how HR will deliver services and information to employees (mostly comprising millennials) over smart devices.In fact, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project recently highlighted that that ‘by 2020, most people, who use the Internet, will work primarily through cyberspace-based applications on remote servers accessed through networked devices’. Indeed, much to the chagrin of work-life balance proponents, there will be a constant connection and fewer separation points between employees’ personal and work lives. Is this a good thing? Maybe yes, maybe no. But mobile cloud computing’s front-and-center place in the future is an inescapable truth.

Integration of multiple kinds of data

Integration of real-time data, location data and other sensor data into HR programs, such as engagement and scheduling will be a reality… Look at the success of wearables for exercise management; this type of real-time data collection will come to HR.

What are your experiences with highs and lows at Greytip?

Ans: I started this company right out of college. In fact, Sayeed my co-founder did his Final semester project in our company. So Greytip has always been the only place where I have worked and its journey and my journey has in fact tied closely.

As with many members of our tribe, the number of lows far outstrip the highs. But each success gives me a lot of energy and motivation to persevere and helps me overcome the disappointment of things that do not work out for me.

I have come to terms with the fact that there will be a significant number of lows and that is part of the journey. I constantly look forward to the highs. This really helps me deal with disappointments and I can come back to again pursuing what I want to achieve.

Lastly, we would be glad to have your valuable suggestion for the new-age entrepreneurs coming up in the industry today.

Ans: A few suggestions that I would like to share are:

Entrepreneurship looks cool from the outside, but being a successful entrepreneur is a very tough job. It calls for the significant investment of personal time, attention, and effort.

To be really successful in terms of creating something of value takes time.

Raising funding is not a sign of success. Creating steady revenue streams that outstrip the expenses required to do this and paying back investors (yourself or others) a high rate of return should also be a primary goal that we should be shooting for.

Patience and Perseverance are key traits that are needed to be really successful.

Finally, success does not depend on your effort alone all the time. It depends a lot on your effort and also on the environment & ecosystem where you operate and the timing.

Nilam Oswal
Nilam Oswal is a Content Marketing Head and Brand Strategiest at SoftwareSuggest. When she's not hard at work, she can be found wandering, reading, and just generally having a good time in life.

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