Right at the heart of the startup ethos is fast growth and scalability. Investors are elated, founders are proud, and user communities are always excited to see the numbers grow. But fast growth is never a miracle. From the inside, it’s a deliberate process that comes from optimised internal processes and efficient people management. 

Startups that are unable to hack this end up losing time and money, and this, according to serial entrepreneur Joshua Oguntade, is pointless. “Why not leverage technology to optimise your internal processes by at least 90%? Then you can focus on building,” he asks. 

Joshua Oguntade is the CEO of Clio (formerly Onboardly), a software company that provides optimisation as a service. Clio bundles the back-breaking manual processes associated with payroll, hiring, onboarding and employee management, and leverages technology to simplify and optimise the processes for companies. It’s basically business operations made easy. 

When founders think of building unicorns or world-class solutions, they mostly imagine hitting a huge market with an irresistible product that eventually becomes the holy grail for people or businesses. What many might fail to realise, though, is how dependent such visions are on the internal operations of the business. Where hiring, onboarding, and employee management are not prioritised, the business might as well kiss its big dreams goodbye.

Oguntade, an experienced software engineer, recalls his onboarding experience when he landed a role at GitHub. “The onboarding process was seamless!” he told TechCabal over a call, with palpable excitement in his voice as he reminisced about the moments that ultimately birthed Clio, his latest solution for fast-growing African startups.

“It took only three days for me to be onboarded. Everything was automated so that within my first week, I was already familiar with every tool I needed to work and was almost ready to start pushing production code,” he added. 

According to a recent global report, poor onboarding is a major cause of employee turnover, which can cost a company 100-300% of the employee’s salary in total. Still, this is not the full picture of the company’s loss, which ultimately includes the milestones it could not reach as a result of sub-optimised internal processes. 

Clio’s CEO, Joshua Oguntade

Africa is a prime market for fast-growing companies

Africa is storied as the continent of the future, and it might very well be. Africa is projected to house a quarter of the global population by 2050, and one can only imagine the level at which businesses on the continent will operate in the next few decades. As such, businesses that will survive in the future must begin scaling now, even as they re-imagine how business operations should work. 

To date, several early-stage companies in Africa still manually manage people operations tasks such as tracking employee time-off requests, managing employee performance, recruiting new talents, and handling payroll. This typically leads to errors in employee data and delays in processing salary payments. 

As some of these companies grow, they adopt a combination of different software solutions to simplify their people operations workflow; BambooHR for employee information, Bento for payroll, DocuSign and Google cloud for legal paperwork, and Okta for IT, while the rest is still managed manually. With these fragmented processes, not only does it take companies days to perform tasks like sending offer letters, onboarding new employees, and setting up their payroll, it also costs them time and money as they must pay for multiple software subscriptions and update employee information across numerous platforms. 

Clio’s unique proposition is in its one-stop-shop solution for startups. With its modern platform, it simplifies traditionally complex processes like hiring, employee onboarding, offboarding, payroll, and performance reviews. The company believes it is building the next-generation employee management system which will help HR, Finance, and IT teams work collaboratively by maintaining a single record of employee data. 

“We are focused on helping companies of all sizes create a positive employee experience for their people by providing a central system for their people to find the right people, information, and tools they need to get work done,” CEO Oguntade said in a press release seen by TechCabal.

“When we say companies of all sizes, we mean companies with 2 or 10,000 employees can use Clio, and that is why we made it free for companies with up to 7 employees. Now, every company can always focus on putting their people first,” he added.

Although Clio is still in its early days, the startup is betting on Africa’s economic promise and fast-growing startup ecosystem. As of 2022, close to 3500 startups were reported to be operational in Nigeria alone, all of which could leverage technology to shoot for better internalised operations. Clio is betting on this vision, and with an experienced Oguntade at the helm of affairs, it is exciting to see what happens as this startup takes root in Africa’s fast-growing technology ecosystem. 

Speaking to TechCabal about the rebrand from Onboardly to Clio, Oguntade maintained that the company had to go through a deep restructuring process with regards to its products and value offerings.

“It’s not just a name change, we took the lessons we learnt in the last couple of years about people operations and had to build the product from scratch to bring the seamlessness and automation we did with employee onboarding to every part of people operations,” he said.

“By doing this, we outgrew the name Onboardly with the new platform because we are not just solving employee onboarding anymore. We are automating the whole people operations workflows and it is essential we reflect this in our brand,” Oguntade further explained. 

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