We already knew that serial entrepreneur Duane Jackson, who is best known for founding and exiting cloud accounting software KlashFlow, was working on his third venture after recently selling Supdate to Crowdcube. And today Staffology, which Jackson tells me he began developing just over a year ago, is launching publicly.
Dubbed Staffology Payroll, the U.K. company’s first product is cloud payroll software built on top of a “comprehensive” and open API. The idea is that anything the web-based application does can also be achievable programmatically via the API.
“A few companies I advise were in need of a web-based payroll app with an API and it just didn’t exist,” explains Jackson. “Xero had been talking about an API for their U.K. payroll for years but it just didn’t look like it was happening [it is now, although it’s still in beta]. I had the opportunity to move on from Supdate which meant I would have some time on my hands, so I thought I’d give it a go myself”.
Jackson says that development of Staffology Payroll started in March 2018 and after a period of private and public beta testing it has passed the important milestone of gaining recognition for RTI and CIS filing from HMRC, the U.K.’s tax authority. The next stage is to encourage other software vendors and platforms to provide payroll functionality via the startup’s API.
“Automation of business processes is on the increase,” notes Jackson, but with regards to payroll this hasn’t yet happened for a lot of companies. “A real bottleneck is payroll because there simply aren’t the APIs out there to do it well,” he says. “It’s no longer just large employers trying to take advantage of technology and the efficiencies it can bring. Whether you’re a construction company managing payments to thousands of subcontractors or an accountancy firm managing payroll for hundreds of small businesses, integration and automation can save you a small fortune”.
To that end, the Staffology founder says the product has been used by a range of customers while in beta. Typical customers include accountants, payroll bureaus and employers of various sizes. “The white-label option is proving attractive to challenger banks looking at how our product can help them compete in the SME market and to HR SaaS vendors who hope it’ll make their own offerings more attractive,” says Jackson.
Another current customer is a large construction company that is integrating Staffology Payroll into their in-house systems to save them “days of work every month”.
Meanwhile, Staffology has been funded by Jackson’s own cash to date and he sees no reason to raise venture capital. “I made enough from my other exits to not have to worry about taking a salary from the business,” he says. “And as a full-stack developer I’m able to do the majority of the development work myself. So the costs have been minimal and what costs there have been I can comfortably cover. I’ve already had interest from a couple of VCs, but I struggle to see why I need to go down that route”.
With that said, Jackson is under no illusion that a payroll SaaS will only make significant profits with scale. Payroll processing is priced as a commodity and therefore Staffology will be a business that requires high volumes.
“Making money is the bit I still have to prove,” he adds. “The maximum you can get away with charging per payslip is £1, therefore the only way to make good money is to do very high volume. High volume payroll is exactly what APIs are best placed to handle and our product and pricing is designed to work for that market”.