Academically, my background is Accountancy. I finished my MBA last year at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. I also have a background in Six Sigma (both Green and Black). I feel like I have to mention this part because I have this obsession for continuous improvement and that’s one of my motivators for building Skimpl.
I’ve been in the game industry for about 10 years now. I’ve led two game production centers, both of which had multiple locations across the globe.
I was with a company called PODD from 2005-2007. Back then, PODD functioned as the creative arm of US-based gaming software provider, Tribeca Tables. At its peak, PODD had a team of 40+. The company provided UI design and media development services for Tribeca and its clients.
In 2007, Tribeca was able to negotiate an M&A deal with a European company called Playtech. Part of the deal was for Tribeca to hand over PODD assets and people to Playtech. We transferred all relevant people to Playtech and set up a subsidiary of Playtech in the Philippines. I set up and led that subsidiary until 2009. When I left, the company had 70+ employees.
In 2009, I joined the new PODD, a spinoff of the old PODD studio. It had a different set of people and its business was to develop educational games for external clients. I was with PODD until 2014. Over the last 2 years after its partner company in the US, Ryo Games, closed, PODD struggled with sales. One of our clients also defaulted and didn't pay a huge amount of debt. After some time of holding it all together, we decided to just move on. Finally, in September to October of 2014, we closed the office.
I started thinking about Skimpl as early as 2012. It was then a hobby/side project. I worked on the features and researched on competitors. I had an external team work on a demo, although progress was not too fast because I wasn’t focusing much on it. But we did finish a small demo version of the app. In March 2014, I demoe’d the app to some friends in San Francisco. I also demoe’d it at the trade office of the Philippine consulate in San Francisco. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone easily understood and connected with the product. I sent invites to a few other friends and their feedback too was very positive.
These and all motivated me to go on.
Through the years managing game studios, a perennial headache for me had been optimizing utilization and people’s productivity. There was too much waste and it was hard to control it.
As studio head, I was required to justify every single hire and make sure every penny spent was worth it. The only way to prove that was to study resource utilization data. What we’d normally do is gather reports from an internal time clocking software, put them all on Excel, and then come up with summaries. This whole process was cumbersome and prone to errors. In addition it’d take us 3-5 days on average every month to clean up time clock data, get rid of nonessential information, and put together useful reports.
This was costing us too much in terms of time and money. Very frustrating yet sadly inescapable. I talked to friends who were also heads of game studios and I found out that they, too, had the same problems.
I looked online for some options. But I couldn’t find anything that’s easy to set up, available on the cloud, and had the depth and simplicity that I wanted in a productivity software. I decided to come up with my own instead.
As a manager, my ideal situation would have been to open a dashboard that would give me a high-level overview of what’s going on in the company.
I wanted easy answers to these questions. I figured that the way to do this is to start from people’s schedules. If we have data on people’s schedules as well as their planned and actual time spent on every task, we can generate all the data needed to answer the high-level questions I wrote above.
In addition, we can address problems being faced by other teams related to schedules. For instance:
- need to account for the their team
- need to know what team member is doing at any given day or time
- need to know who is idle and who is not
- need to get closer to what is happening to the team if they are to be able to help improve people’s performances
- right now they’re an isolated group. I figured that if they’d be able to access data on what people are doing, they’d be able to appreciate and help plan initiatives to motivate and tie good performance with rewards.
It took us a very long time to come up with the name Skimpl. What we wanted was to come up with a productivity software that was simple yet has depth to it, as opposed to other products that are simply simple (shallow).
So now, we have a platform that can help managers get the best out of their resources. It will save the company a tremendous time and effort since:
- they no longer need to spend much in terms of gathering utilization data and coming up with reports
- it helps the company monitor actual utilization and plan for future allocation
- it gives information conveniently in a matter of seconds
Long term, Skimpl will have 3 modules
1. Resource scheduling - current module
2. Leave management - The process of filing leaves will now be as easy as assigning a task to HR. HR can easily approve or disapprove the request
3. Performance management - this is the leaderboard part. People will see who is performing better and who is lagging behind. There will be rankings based on who is able to perform tasks within the least amount of time. Management can easily use this data as basis for giving rewards and motivators
Overall, our vision is to be the most successful cloud-based resource management tool for SMEs within 3 years.
Right now that title may be occupied by SAAS platforms such as Resource Guru and WhenIWork. Those tools have a different DNA although they’re accomplishing the same goals as us. But they don’t have good reports. They’re lacking in depth. And they’re targeted at one user group only (either Production people or HR people but not both).
I think we have a very good chance at topping them.
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