Meet The Team Monday: Phil Aldridge, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Welcome to the 16th installments of Meet The Peoplewave Team Monday, #MTPTM! Many of you are curious about how & why Peoplewave was founded and want to meet the team behind the scenes. Here’s your chance!
This week, we’re pleased to introduce our Co-Founder & CTO of Peoplewave, Phil Aldridge.
Let’s explore his experience and insights in how Peoplewave was founded, Setting up Tech Lab in Davao and more:
1. Please tell us the story of how you co-founded Peoplewave? What motivated you to join the company?
By luck and I have LinkedIn to thank for it. May 2017 I had about 500 LinkedIn Connections and I happened to see a post by Damien saying he needed a CTO. I did not know Damien at the time but we had 100 common connections out of the 500 in total I had so I knew immediately it was someone I needed to at least meet.
We arranged to have a coffee and over the course of that 1-hour meeting, I knew that he had a great idea and that he also is strong in areas that I know I am weak. The idea itself was simple “make work fair”. Working with many different businesses over the last 20 years this was something that resonated with me. Too often your annual review is based on whether you did something bad the week before or whether your manager does not understand what you do, it is rarely based on actual data gathered over the course of a year. People often fail in a role because they were never given the opportunity to succeed. Onboarding is generally speaking an afterthought in most organizations but again this was something Damien wanted to resolve and I agreed.
It is a common mistake for startups to have two co-founders who are friends and are very similar personalities. This rarely works as the management team end up with gaps in their ability. In this case with Damien and myself, where there is something I am not good at doing I know he probably can do it and visa-versa. That was the start of the relationship that has developed into where Peoplewave is today.
2. So now that Peoplewave has been operating for almost 2 years, do you have any reflections on what’s gone right and wrong?
The vision has been clear from the beginning on what we need to do and we have kept true to that but as a startup, the path to success often has a few turns in it. Rarely is the initial idea the actual one that is rolled out.
I don't have any regrets up to now but there have been a few situations where we have learned from. It is good advice for any startup to avoid doing work for free. The promise from a big brand that they will buy your product if you do this and do that. Get a commitment first such that if you do some work they will either pay for it or guarantee to buy after. We made that mistake but we learned from it. We are much more commercially minded now. It probably set us back a month in real terms, but if nothing liked this happens you should probably be questioning why, as these things always happen top every startup.
The team has been a big positive for me. Yes, people come and people go almost everyone who has comes through the Peoplewave doors I have been impressed with. The current management team is extremely strong and with current conversations, it is getting stronger. Those that have left for pastures new I still keep in touch with. Relationships whether in your personal life or business are almost always for life. You never know when someone who worked for you before will be buying from you in years to come. I believe that even if a bridge has been burnt… rebuild it.
3. You’ve set up Peoplewave’s tech lab and development hub in Davao, Philippines. What made you choose the Philippines for this?
1. Quality of Staff — Committed hard-working individuals who are willing to do what it takes to get a job done are hard to get these days. They are in abundance in the Philippines. People there tell you what they can do and generally speaking, they can do it and they will do it with minimum fuss. Tech startups need rapid prototyping and an MVP to market as quick as possible. I get that with our Davao Hub.
2. Excellence in English — When I mentor other startups one of the basic principles that I try to drill in is communication. You cannot overcommunicate and even when you think you are doing exactly that there will be someone who thinks you are under-communicating. In Asia, but moreover everywhere in the world these days, you are dealing with multi-cultures and often with people for whom your language is not necessarily their first language. It is important therefore to find a place where you reduce any communication barriers. My primary language is English and I find that the quality of English in the Philippines is exceptional. More than 25 years living in Asia I realize the importance and difficulties of remote team communications but with my team in Davao, I don't have any issues. I was lucky enough to have someone working for me previously in another company who was from Davao and she was the one who introduced me to Davao as a potential development hub. Without that introduction, I would not have considered Davao so I have her to thank for that. Proof that chance and luck do play a major part in any Startup.
3. Time Zone — This is critical. As a startup, you work long hours but you do not need to make it any more difficult than it already is. I picked Davao partly because it is the same time zone as Singapore and Hong Kong. You do not want to behave conference calls at 2 am in the morning with your tech team as you simply will not be at your optimum. It would also make it hard to work for long periods together if there are significant time zone differences.
4. Cost — This is the factor with any startup. Obviously, you would think I could have built the tech team out of Singapore or Hong Kong. In reality with the limited resources that are available in these locations regardless of what I paid there simply is an insufficient talent to build the team without bringing in overseas workers. This is an issue that Singapore and Hong Kong need to resolve in order to stay competitive. I built the team overseas because the talent was readily available and the cost was reasonable.
I have no regrets setting up the Dev team in Davao. If I was doing this again I would make exactly the same decisions which are a pretty good indicator that you made the correct decisions.
4. Please describe what a usual day for you looks like.
Wake up and check there are no alerts from the system. Then check who has signed up overnight. With those two tasks done it is a simple case of ensuring the schedule is on track. A quick call with the Dev Team to ensure the current Sprint is on track and that they have everything for the next sprint. Then it is on to development and getting feedback from users and discussing this with the product team to ensure our development plans are in line with the client's requirements and still ensuring we stay true to the Peoplewave business ethos of “making work fair”.
I also spend time working with Damien on the overall strategy and investment. As co-founders our relationship dictates how the business evolves and having open and honest conversations is key to a healthy relationship.
Regular meetings with key staff to ensure everyone is meeting their deliverables and resolving any issues that arise are a big focus for Damien and myself. Again it comes back to communications.
5. Peoplewave currently has two products — First 100 Days and Performance Wave but more are coming. What does the company’s product roadmap and future look like?
Without giving too much away we are heavily focused on data analytics as well as our blockchain development. There will be some big vertical movements for our products also which will open up some large sectors for us to potentially dominate.
Of course there is the ongoing development of the core products to meet client current and future needs but in reality, we are only scraping the surface of the product potential at the moment.
Phil Aldridge has an over 20 years’ experience in technology. Founder & COO of FunctionEight (IT services) as well as other Asian locations, by identifying the clients needs both from a technical level and also a business level and turning them into actual deliverables that add value to the client. SME & Start-up mentor, Committee Chair at British Chamber of Commerce (HK).
Specialties: Business Analysis, System Integration, Cyber Security, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery.
Peoplewave is Asia’s leading blockchain-ready HR software company. It is revolutionizing people management with data-driven, transparent feedback and verified performance data. Peoplewave offers two key products — the “First 100 Days”: a new hire onboarding tool and “Performance Wave”: continuous 360-degree performance appraisals.
Peoplewave’s software suite is blockchain-ready — its blockchain platform is called “Wavebase”. Wavebase is a revolutionary platform that provides ongoing verified employee performance information that will change the face of hiring and managing workplace talent.