Transcript of interview below.
MoneyFM Host 1: Now, one of the major inconveniences SMEs face is reconciling business transactions, a process that’s largely manual. This enterprise solution though will enable businesses to transact goods and services without the hassle of manual documentation.
MoneyFM Host 2: And with this platform, SMEs will no longer need to manually reconcile purchase orders (PO’s). Invoices with the Andromeda platform developed by Doxa, well we have Edmund Ng and Leon Yeo they’re the co-founders of Doxa Holdings with us at the studio here today.
Welcome to the show gentlemen! What are the common finance and workflow challenges that SMEs face right now?
H1: Beyond the paper and the pen, I suppose.
Common SME Finance and Workflow Challenges
Leon Yeo: Good evening, and thanks for having us here today. The common challenges that we see in SMEs face. These are really the manual processes that they face, you know.
In the way they managed their workflow in the transaction be it from, you know, starting from requesting for a purchase all the way to the delivery invoice, matching them and then for payment and also a challenge that they have on getting financing for their trade; for their invoices.
H1: So beyond those kinds of things that you felt like you wanted to help SMEs solve. What else was the impetus for the platform for Andromeda?
Edmund Ng: I think there’s always gaps in the SMEs that, in a few areas, like digitisation, and also there’s a cost to build a platform that SMEs may need to fork out quite a number or amount of money to just build a platform for collaboration as well. And also, we realised that to reconcile an invoice — the research about the costs of just reconciling invoices is about $12 to $40. If let’s say–
H1: Just to 1 invoice, okay.
EN: Yes, correct, because there’s: exception handling, never [receiving the invoice], PO cannot [be found]. I mean that the area that they do find… And also, there’s a gap in the financing in Asia of over 600 billion of [a] gap.
And of this 600 billion gap, 56% of it get rejected which we means cannot get financing. So, there’s a gap in this area, so we can think that some area is the audit trail, the workflow, the documentation flows and information on that. So yeah, we wanted to find these touchpoints that allows SMEs to get financing, get their digitalisation and the process.
H1: Did it come from personal experiences? The thing? Whilst you are flipping through your POs and cannot find the invoice and that sort of thing, Edmund.
EN: Yeah, definitely, personally because I’ve mean, I been running this space for three to four years in this, Asia.
So, and running through about 550 to 200 SMEs to understand their pain point and realise that they have this issue and usually the SME, they’re focused on their sales, but they didn’t really focus on their back office. But actually there’s a way and there’s a place that they can actually try to improve their efficiency on the area. So that’s a point where you can actually try to improve that. That workflow, processes.
H2: This is Edmund Ng, one of the co-founders of Doxa Holdings in the studio with a us, of course, Leon Yeo as well who answered the earlier question. Okay tell us some of the features of the platform.
Features of Andromeda (Now Doxa Connex)
LY: Okay, so this platform that we launching at the end of October is Andromeda Procure-to-Pay so it is targeting the procurement process.
We have a road map to launch various modules later on. So this platform has a few features. So first it helps the purchasers to look for suppliers. We have suppliers portal as part of the feature. So not only they request for quotation from their existing suppliers, they can also look, in the platform, for other suppliers of the same product so that they can hopefully find something even more suitable.
And then through that in the whole process we help them to digitise and automate so that helps them to be more efficient and productive.
LY: And then, in addition, we have a dashboard that allows them to be able to look at, you know, business intelligence and analysis for them to be able to make better decisions on how to improve. This is also a system where we are able to help them to churn out e-invoices.
There’s a PEPPOL standard that the Singapore government has endorsed as a way to go into a wireless, you know, paperless workflow. So our system will be PEPPOL ready from the get-go. So the suppliers are able to use the system to produce e-invoice of the PEPPOL standard.
H1: So your platform also leverages blockchain, microservices, cloud computing, and AI (all of these buzzwords of today) — which was the most challenging aspect, though, Leon or Edmund, to get up to speed with?
EN: I think basically is more on because we are using a number of technologies like blockchain, the hardware you want to integrate various technology because running through a serverless technology using it AWS Lambda system that we’re running through.
H1: Amazon Lambda web services.
EN: Yes, correct. So with that integration, the touch point and data modelling that has allowed us to actually transact. There is one of the key main areas that we spend a lot effort running through on that. And also for blockchain, we’re adopting their smart contracts. So we are running through, making sure that every contract and rules has been catered for and we are adopting a Hyperledger Fabric 1.4.
H2: Any other challenges apart from all these that you just mentioned, I’m sure there were other challenges that you face while you’re setting up.
EN: Definitely there’s so much challenges. I mean interfacing or data modelling is one of the main areas. The other, is to ensure is the launch date. I mean there’s always a research talking about technology always failing or failing to deliver on their part.
So basically we are very familiar and also very confident that we’re able to launch in October. Our team right now is trying to make sure that all touchpoints and we’re in the testing environment now, and I’m sure that on the launch date we’re able to give [that] to the public.
And the other area is about the go-to-market, which means although you know how good your system is, but without any person to use it, is never a good system.
H1: Are you in trials now though?
EN: Yeah we are open for trial as well.
H1: Yeah, how’s it going so far?
LY: It’s good! We, as a matter of fact, we already have a number of companies that have signed a letter of intent to take up the service when we launch, and we are doing testing phase with some of them.
We also have a few partners that we are working with too, as a channel partner and strategic partner to help us as well.
And we are also being accepted in the government Networked Trade Platform. Be one of their Value-Added service provider. So we’re quite excited about the marketing.
H2: Great to hear.
LY: So yeah, we are quite happy and grateful because you know we’re doing – we’re getting all these applications approved even without the product being ready.
So yeah, sure, quite excited that…
H1: For sure though.
LY: Yes, yes, whatever Edmund has just mentioned is even greater pressure to and for us to make sure that we are able to launch the product well, and on time.
H1: And deliver.
H2: How accessible is a platform to SMEs, and how challenging it is to implement?
H1: Because Edmund you talked about how SME’s will say, oh you know, I don’t have the money to build this infrastructure that and teach my people… so on and so forth.
EN: For product development, the more you develop which means the end user will have less to do, and use it. So, we spent a lot of effort in developing the whole entire – even up till the user experience.
So we are adopting the low-code, no-code or low cost and low financing risks. So, we wanted the users [to use it at speed], which means you’re able to put in a low-code configuration, allowing them to just configure their requirements. Their workflows, their so-called approval workflow, their cost or any of the information has been allocated for inside that configuration areas, yup.
H1: Edmund Ng and Leon Yeo are co-founders of Doxa Holdings. Their platform, Andromeda, again launching sometime in November. I believe first version…
LY: Oh no, 30th October 2019. Yes 30th of October. That’s right!
H1: Gentlemen, thank you for coming today, thank you very much.
LY: Thank you so much for having us.