by Analytics Insight
September 13, 2021
“An engaged employee is a productive employee”. When people know their value and how their work impacts the organization, they’re more likely to contribute at a higher level and push themselves beyond the minimum requirements of their position. Employee engagement platform helps employees and managers to measure, in real-time about how everyone feels.
Analytics Insight presents an exclusive interview with Anjan Pathak, Co-Founder, and CTO at Vantage Circle which is a one-stop employee engagement platform designed to transform how people work, connect, and feel.
1)Give a brief overview of the company background, its specialization, and its services.
Vantage Circle is a one-stop employee engagement platform designed to transform how people work, connect, and feel. We have four solutions namely Vantage Rewards, Vantage Perks, Vantage Fit, and Vantage Pulse which were designed to increase engagement and productivity by providing a stellar employee experience.
Our comprehensive and cost-effective platform aims to empower companies to attract and retain their top talents. Our user base currently stands at 1.8M+ employees from some of the world’s leading corporations, including HCL, Accenture, Infosys, WIPRO, Aricent, GE, Mu Sigma, Capgemini, and many others. While we laid the foundation of Vantage Circle in 2011, it’s safe to say that it had been a lifelong goal of ours. Partha and I were two school friends who had a budding dream of starting our own company, and the culmination of our efforts resulted in us finally launching Vantage Circle.
Partha and I had worked in the IT and technology industry for almost two decades, and we were confident that we were in a place where we could put our experience to good use while achieving our objectives. Due to the right opportunities, guidance, and ideas implemented at the right time, we could create, launch, and achieve the success that Vantage Circle has seen today.
2)Kindly brief us about yourself and your journey. What are your key roles and responsibilities?
The initial 17 years of my vocation were spent brainstorming, designing, and architecting multiple e-commerce applications. The cognizance, experience, and insights I accumulated over the years have been invaluable in eventually doing what I authentically wanted to do- i.e., developing world-class HR technology solutions.
I have spent a significant part of my career, 15 years to be precise, working in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. after my return to India in 2013, I have been involved in developing and mentoring the product, operations, and marketing team of Vantage Circle since then. Even today, I consider myself an entrepreneur at heart.
As the CTO of the company, I am responsible for the technological progress and evolution of Vantage Circle. I played a key role in the design, architecture, and technical implementation of the company’s core functions.
As a wellness devotee, I am inconceivably energetic about the requirement for corporate wellbeing. Being a passionate global technologist, I am committed to changing the game for clients and customers.
3) Kindly describe the disruptive innovation achieved by the company.
The primary goal of everything we do stems from the fact that both employees and employers should find our platform extremely simple to understand, use, and manage.
When it comes to employee engagement platforms, the majority of them only offer one or two solutions at most. Every HR leader is aware that engaging employees is already a hard job. However, when you consider that you would need to manage all of the different factors associated with making the employee experience more seamless across multiple platforms, the task becomes infinitely more difficult.
Our first and primary innovation in this scenario was to combine four employee engagement modules onto a single platform. By doing so, we have ensured that HR leaders do not need to switch between different engagement platforms and can manage all of their engagement-related tasks from a single dashboard. It has certainly been one of the factors for which we received a lot of positive feedback.
Another innovation that we embraced was making our platform more adaptable to global workforces. Our SaaS and AI-based platforms are powered by intelligent frameworks like AIRe and SOLI.
We created the AIRe framework which stands for A (Appreciation), I (Incentivization), R (Reinforcement), and e (Emotional Connect) to break down employee appreciation factors into individual dimensions. It provides a standard for businesses to use in determining why their employees may feel underappreciated despite being frequently praised. The SOLI framework, on the other hand, is how we ensure that employees are rewarded and recognized fairly by taking their cost of living into account.
We’re also pleased with how Vantage Fit, our one-of-a-kind corporate health and wellness app, has helped us deliver an ideal wellness experience for regular employees and remote workers. It’s such a comprehensive platform with almost everything an employee needs to keep track of their health. Vantage Fit has it all— an AI-powered squat tracker, an activity tracker, a heart-rate monitor, a nutrition tracker, and a mood meter.
4) Can you please explain how your innovation disrupts the existing market?
We are, in my opinion, an outlier in our own right. Even though we are from a small city in northeast India with limited resources, talent pool, and funding, our innovation has propelled us into being recognized as one of the leading employee engagement platforms in the current market. I believe it disrupts the existing market in the sense that we prove how even young start-ups can compete with well-established companies and that with a great team on board, you can find alternative paths that don’t let your limited resources stifle innovations.
Even our flagship product, Vantage Fit, has managed to reshape how companies view, manage, and run employee wellness programs. Vantage Fit tracks factors that influence an employee’s well-being, such as food, nutrition and water intake, daily activity level, healthy heart rate tracker, and more, using high accuracy machine learning models. To top it all off, the entire app is gamified, and amazing incentives are offered when a specific health goal is met, ensuring that employees are excited and inclined to use the app. I don’t believe there is a corporate wellness platform on the market today that offers as many features as we do and at such a low cost.
It was an extremely proud moment for us when, in 2019, Apple noticed our innovation with the Vantage Fit app and invited us to come in, show them what we had done, and discuss our future course of action to take the app to the next level.
5) Please brief us about the proactive Founder/CEO of the company and his/her contributions.
Both Partha and I are based in Assam, which is a state in north-eastern India. Before quitting the job and launching Vantage Circle, Partha worked for companies such as Info Edge, Hughes, and Bharat Electronics in various roles and industries, totaling more than 22 years of experience. Partha has a successful track record of scaling winning businesses and played a pivotal role in the conceptualization and launch of 99acres.com.
I have always been fascinated by technological advancements. I spent the first 17 years of my career in countries such as the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, brainstorming, designing, and architecting multiple e-commerce applications. My work experience in Europe is what sparked my interest in being an entrepreneur.
When Partha decided to launch a corporate discount platform (what Vantage Circle originally was) in 2010, I was one of the earliest investors. Later in 2013, I decided to take the plunge and join Vantage Circle full-time, and that is when we truly began to grow into what we are today.
In the stages of Vantage Circle’s inception, we decided that our employees should define what we wanted our company to prioritize innovation and be technical-driven. However, we did not have enough budget to build our start-up from the ground up in a metropolitan city. Both of these goals translated to us hiring a young team with a lot of new ideas and also basing our company on Guwahati (where the cost of living aligned with our financial plan).
6)Tell us how the company is contributing to the market and benefiting the clients.
Humanizing workplaces with data-driven employee engagement solutions is our primary goal. And we have been quite successful at it.
As I said earlier, our HR suite modules cater to HR professionals seeking a platform to solve their biggest challenges. We have a people-first approach, and our products are built keeping that aspect in mind. We designed our products to keep the physical and psychological aspects of human needs. For example, our Vantage Rewards solution helps build trust and relationships with the management and their peers in this scenario. On the other hand, Vantage Fit promotes self-care, allowing employees to keep track of their health and earn rewards while doing that. Vantage Perks helps them save money with exclusive corporate offers and discounts, and Vantage Pulse helps the management conduct employee surveys and sets benchmarks for a better employee experience.
We are gradually climbing the ladder of success by helping the HR industry with 360-degree HR suite solutions. Over the last 12 months, Vantage Circle has seen a 150% increase in customer queries about our solutions. This number alone tells us how our products have been successfully building a better workforce culture globally.
For example, the pandemic shifted the workforce to work from home. Employees could no longer communicate with teams in person, and the uncertainty and change crippled minds into thinking our management cares about us. Our clients could successfully create a culture of virtual recognition with our platform and cement their trust and confidence.
7)What makes the company innovative? What are the key partnerships and involvements done to drive the innovation?
We are a new-age company with a flat hierarchical culture. Our inclusive work culture encourages everyone to participate and bring new ideas and innovation, for which they are also rewarded. We sincerely believe what we preach; for us, our employees’ experience and satisfaction come first.
Our HR solutions have been developed keeping that need and ideology in mind too. In our Vantage Rewards solution, we socially recognize and reward employees regularly. Our interactive and AI-powered platform helps everyone to use the platform seamlessly. The same goes for all our other products as well. They are developed to help understand the underlying issues that an employee faces in their employee life cycle. We encourage them to have their say in building a better work culture for them. We believe that is what makes us innovative.
The partnership opportunities and involvements have been quite effective for driving more innovation and entering the global market. We are enabling cross-functional intelligence for our clients through correlations between both platforms, thereby creating better opportunities. For example, the collaboration of Vantage Circle and IntelliHR strives to bridge the employee engagement automation gap and to provide a seamless experience for the clients. Also, our integrated platform will allow Zoho People to enhance their rewards and recognition culture. We are thus creating more strategic partnerships to innovate and provide the best employee experience worldwide.
8) Brief us about the challenges and potential drawbacks of your disruptive innovation.
The biggest challenge is the domain we are into. The HR industry has not paced enough over the years. There is a substantial amount of awareness that the HR industry should have. They need to adapt to the new digital technologies to stay ahead in the market. The biggest challenge for them is employee retention and increasing competition for talent. The key is to understand how the new technological innovations can ease their HR practices and help them succeed in this competitive environment. And it all boils down to providing the best employee experience to the workforce.
Over the years, HR has gradually moved from its policies first practices to people first approaches. But the number is low. Our biggest challenge lies in convincing HR to adapt to the new technologies to solve their underlying problems and not just solve visible issues.
The major drawback for any innovation is that success is not guaranteed. And it is more ambiguous when your innovation is disruptive. The major hurdles are marketing, technical challenges, and cash flow.
9) How do you see the company/industry in the future ahead?
Currently, we are a mid-size company with more than 100+ employees and expanding in different countries like the USA, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. Globally, we are striving to expand and grow more diverse talent that can enable us to introduce more ideas that greatly enhance the quality of the work culture.
We are very hopeful that the future will bring more opportunities to grow and bring more innovation within the industry. We want to enable companies of all sizes to deliver a satisfying employee experience worldwide.