To those who know Nicole, it comes as no surprise that she has shown herself to be a successful entrepreneur. As a child, she would rent out her personal collection of storybooks as well as help her father’s corporate gift business.
After a successful career at a major bank, Nicole saw a gap in human resource solutions and saw the potential of technology in this sector. She then left the banking industry and set up Rewardz with her husband, Sudhanshu Tewari. During the inception of Rewardz, Nicole didn’t let the fact that she was heavily pregnant stop her from being hands on and getting the business off the ground.
Under her leadership, Rewardz has found themselves at the forefront of the digitalisation of HR services in Singapore, with their innovative services such as Emperks, a service that rewards employees with different perks to help with employee satisfaction, and Flabuless, an online corporate fitness platform aimed to reduce a company’s medical costs, boost morale, productivity, and improve staff health. Recently, it was announced that Rewardz received an investment of SGD 3 million from Benefit One, a Japanese company.
Nicole chatted with LadyBoss about what motivates her and shared a few tips how LadyBossess can increase engagement in their business…
Q: Tell us about Rewardz. How long you’ve been doing it and what are your products
A: Started in Oct 2012, Rewardz is a HR tech company that offers mobile solutions to corporates to simplify employee engagement programs. We have launched 3 platforms to date and it is all in line with what the market lacks and what the client needs.
–Emperks – an app to keep staff updated and engaged with resources such as monthly newsletters, events calendar and notifications. We launched this to provide employers with a consolidated database of corporate perks they can enjoy with a simple and hassle free mobile app. We have also started selling perks as a service to corporates who want to reward their customers.
– Flabuless – a corporate wellness platform, designed to tackle the growing epidemic of employee obesity and work and lifestyle-related illness. More and more companies are struggling with higher medical costs and there had been a lot of emphasis on wellness programs in the workplace. Flabuless had since tracked > 2 billion steps since June 2015 and this number is still increasing.
– Cerrapoints – Launched in December 2016. An incentive point program that allows employees to redeem for vouchers, e-vouchers, goods and services off the mobile app. Employers award points to employees for customizable categories like Sales Revenue Targets, Service Excellence, Corporate Social Responsibility, and more.
Majority of the workforce now look for job satisfaction over a high pay so employers need to be flexible in the way they make their employees feel appreciated.
Q: What sparked your interest in entrepreneurship?
A: When I was 10 years old, my father set up a corporate gift business and it got me curious on how everything worked, from the purchasing to selling and to the delivery of the final product. After school and on weekdays, I would help my father at the store so I had the opportunity to learn the basics of entrepreneurship from him and that was what started it all for me.
When I was in primary school, I started loaning my books to my friends and would record all the ins and outs. I thought to myself that I could make it into a business if someone were to trade their books with me for a fee. Although no one really had the money to pay me for loaning books since we were all children, I was happy to work that borrowing system as I love to read!
Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? Tell us about your background and how it helps you with what you are doing now?
A: I worked in the Human Resources department and Project Management Office of Credit Suisse where I managed resource budgets and allocations across London, New York, Raleigh, India and Singapore. Coming from a HR background, it enabled me to spot the areas of the profession that needed improvement.
Q: Tell us more about your inspiration behind Rewardz. What’s the idea and mission behind it?
A: I felt that there was a need for HR to go digital and embrace technology in order to improve itself. People tend to change over time and the main concern of the workforce in our parents’ generation was different than ours. Majority of the workforce now look for job satisfaction over a high pay so employers need to be flexible in the way they make their employees feel appreciated.
Q: What makes Rewardz different from other HR employee-benefit solutions companies that we know?
A: We understand the importance of technology and how it relates to HR. While others might be intimidated by it, we choose to embrace it and use it to improve HR and the experience of employees.
Q: How many users currently and how many employees have Rewardz served?
A: Rewardz has served over 100 corporates and 200,000 employees like Walt Disney, Samsung, Lucas Film and DBS.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your clients, and what works?
A: With our first app, EmPerks, it was our first contract with the National University Health System that got our name out there. The NUHS EmPerks platform got the attention of other organizations through word of mouth advertising. The most important thing is Account Management after Sales. Without good customer service, you cannot retain your clients and your clients won’t come to you for advice. It is through all these conversations – private and official, that you get to know what the market needs and how you can utilize technology to scale it up and bring it to market quicker.
The data from the tech platforms, when integrated, will become powerful info for the organization to develop insights into how better to manage and reward their employees.
Q: Where do you see the future of employee-benefits? Any plans for Rewardz in the near future?
A: Traditional employee benefits components will move over to tech platforms for administration, reimbursement (which already is happening), recruitment, performance management, incentivising, and more. The data from the tech platforms, when integrated, will become powerful info for the organization to develop insights into how better to manage and reward their employees.
Rewardz will expand to other South East Asian countries in the next 2 years. With Benefit One Inc., we will be able to cater to clients who have many offices all over the world.
Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?
A: Before and after the acquisition, it has always been hiring. At the early stages, I worried about not being able to find people to join us and if they join, how long would they stay?
The growth stage is where we are at now and the challenge now is to find the right people who will join the team and be willing to grow the company to bright it to greater heights. It is about cost versus talent and there is a constant need to balance that.
Seek and you shall find. Seek affirmation for your idea from people around & do tons of research and extend your people networks. Get seasoned entrepreneurs to be your soundboards so you can develop your product into something you can market.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?
A: Being able to embark on new projects motivates me. I like to run each client project from closing to launch. That gives me a sense of achievement.
Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs keen in starting a business?
A: I think many women are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. A statement I often hear from other women from all walks of life is that they are not confident they can do it.
Seek and you shall find. Seek affirmation for your idea from people around & do tons of research and extend your people networks. Get seasoned entrepreneurs to be your soundboards so you can develop your product into something you can market. It is a lot of hard work and you will sometimes feel alone. If you believe in what you’re doing, NEVER give up.
Q: How can LadyBosses running small to medium businesses motivate/ engage their employees through employee-benefits?
A: A lot of employees now value job satisfaction over their pay. By rewarding them through the extension of benefits, spot rewarding and consistent incentives along the way, employees will feel appreciated by the organization and will then feel a sense of loyalty to their employer.
Additional monetary compensation is something that start-ups can offer after the business has grown to greater heights – with the vision that as the company grows, they will grow along with it in terms of learning, roles, and compensation will commensurate with that.