Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 199. Today we have Matt Wilson from Omnipresent and we’ll be talking about the use case or business case for why his customers use Omnipresent.
Matt is an experienced entrepreneur and technologist and was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2019.
Omnipresent solves the challenges faced when starting a business thousands of miles apart and managing a remote team.
Show length: 25 minutes
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Matt is an experienced entrepreneur and technologist. Prior to founding Omnipresent, he founded and ran an enterprise software business in the pharmaceutical industry, and spent time as a software engineer and product manager. He holds a Master's degree in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics from the University of Oxford. He was named Forbes 30 under 30 in 2019. He has also lived in New Zealand for a year.Follow
Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Matt on from Omnipresent and we’ll be talking about the Use Case or Business Case for why his prospects become customers and why his customers stay as customers and how they kind of justify things as it relates to the purchase of Omnipresent and working with Omnipresent. So, without any further ado, Matthew would you do us and the audience a favor, introduce yourself and introduce Omnipresent.
Matt Wilson: Fantastic. Thanks William. Yeah, I’m Matt Wilson. I’m one of the founders and co-CEOs here at Omnipresent. I’m based in London in the UK and my backgrounds are building products and technology-led companies. And Omnipresent, I’m based here in the UK, Omnipresent is a global company, we’ve got a team of 200 spread across about 40 countries all around the world. We’re a relatively young company about two and a half years old. But growing very quickly and what we do for our customers is really help them untangle the complexity that comes with operating global businesses, particularly from a HR perspective.
So, we work with our customers to set up their employees, all over the world, from an employment law perspective, help them understand their relevant employment laws in the countries that they’re hiring in, help them set up those employees with payroll services and with employee benefits. We do that through one single platform for the whole world and really help our customers unlock a global talent pool. Whether that’s hiring the best people for the job, anywhere in the world, working together remotely, or it’s building companies that are going out and serving customers all over the world.
William Tincup: What I love about this is the complexity of you have 140 people in 20 different countries and you’ve got to be compliant. And the compliance, that’s a small-ish company and are medium sized company, to be able as an HR leader, to keep up with, just the regulation, just the compliance part, is almost impossible. Let’s put that off to the side, then take something like Global Payroll and being able to pay people from one platform, Global Payroll, for those that are listening, it’s done differently from firm to firm.
And so it’s really important when you’re talking to somebody about Global Payroll as to how they do it. What their approach is. If they’re using local folks or if they’re using different service bureaus, etcetera. So, the customers that you serve, what I love about this and I want to ask you about remote and COVID and if how that pushed y’all’s business into different things. But take us in a little bit of some of the complexities that people might not understand working in Germany versus working in Seattle or having [crosstalk 00:03:18] an employee in Stuttgart versus an employee in Seattle. You think that those are the same things? No. So take us into a couple examples.
Matt Wilson: I mean where do I start? The complexity is enormous. I think when we started the company, what we saw was really there’s this shift in terms of types of companies that we’re looking to build out global organizations and global teams and you talked about remote work. I mean, that’s a major driver that is opening up the possibility of hiring globally for companies, not having to set up whole offices but look globally. And what we saw was, which is why we started the company was that, it’s traditionally been the remit of large organizations have big legal teams, big HR teams, big finance teams that can really understand and unravel that complexity that have and they’ve been the companies that have been hiring globally, been operating globally, historically.
But, in the world that we live in today, with companies being able to work together online, being ambitious and wanting to sell and serve global markets, we started to see as companies, at all stages of their life cycle, operating globally. So we think about the shift from companies being domestic first to global first. But as you say, that unlocks, that brings this enormous problem. As companies, small medium-size companies try to operate globally, just run into all of these challenges, all of this operational complexity and bureaucracy that comes with operating globally. So, some of the questions that you might be facing, how do you find people across multiple geographies? Do you need to have local legal presence in a country in order to engage that person? Do you need to … How do you understand the employment regulations in Germany or in South Africa or in Singapore compared to in Seattle and Washington and in the US.
How do you understand, what type of contracts you might need to be engaging those people on? How do you understand how to set those employees up, make sure they’re paid, make sure the right levels of employment taxes are being paid and that payroll is being done in a way that’s reliable and compliant. But then also, how do you offer a great employee experience as well? You might have a benefits package that you are proud of being able to offer your employees in Seattle, as you say. But what are the expectations that a French employee might have and how are they going to be different from an employee in Seattle? How do you offer a really compelling employee, employer proposition and benefits proposition in France? How are you going to do that in Singapore? How are you going to do that in South Africa and figuring out, all of those things all at once, is a real nightmare and that’s exactly what we started Omnipresent for is to try and help our customers kind of navigate this mind field of bureaucracy and complexity and help them really unlock that ability to operate globally.
William Tincup: I love that because with payroll and compliance and again, you mentioned taxation and like you can get twisted fast and it can come from anywhere. But you also brought in a really really fascinating point in terms of the employee experiences, which kind of leads to kind of the nuances and it’s not all people in France are like this. You’re like, oh, okay, well, not true. You live in London. Well, London and Manchester, probably could be two different countries. So like it’s not the same, even in a country it’s not the same. So how do you all help or what do you see from your customers, as it relates to kind of those nuances? Like, how do you coach them through those nuances that you already know exist because you do business all over the world?
Matt Wilson: I think one thing we find useful is to understand where that customer’s coming from, right? If you’ve got a HR leader, that’s used to building and operating teams in the US, well you can use that as the … They have a good understanding of US employment regulation or at least a high level understanding. A good understanding of the benefits landscape in the US and what you might want to be offering from a healthcare perspective. And then it’s about saying, okay, well, you’re hiring in these five other countries, you’re wanting to expand into these five other countries, how do they stack up compared to what you’re used to? You’re hiring in France okay well, you’ve got your reference point is America. So on the kind of good side of hiring in France, well, maybe there’s a good social healthcare system in France, which allows, which means you’re not typically relying on your employer to provide as much for you from a healthcare perspective.
So, maybe you have some cost savings there in terms of, when you’re comparing that against what you’re used to in the US. But on the flip side, you might be paying more in employer related taxes. And then, thinking about the employment law side of things, kind of taking customers through and saying, in the US maybe you’re used to kind of an at will style employment relationship. Well, actually, that’s very different than how things might operate in France.
And here’s what you need to be aware of. Not at the point where you might be going through a termination, but you need to be aware of that at the point that you are engaging and you’re starting to set up a team, what are those challenges that you might be facing down the line? And then, really we find it helpful to kind of bring that back and compare it against the benchmarks that they might be used to. So, that’s one way that we go about that. And then, building those overviews that you can look at a country and kind of get a good feel for it at a high level, what it’s going to be like doing business, say what it’s going to be like carrying people there and then helping with all of the administration of that as well.
William Tincup: So, we’ve nibbled around the edges of this so it would be super easy. But, what are the questions, the buying questions that people should ask Omnipresent? Like what should they … This is the first time that either they either you probably have a couple different models, right? So you have people that have done this before and it’s a switch. So now you’ve, that’s a different conversation. And maybe some of the companies that are really, really large that had all that infrastructure, maybe shed in some of that infrastructure. Okay so that’s different. But for the folks that maybe this is just brand new. Like they’re just newbies and the world is changing and we’ve talked about globalization for 50 years, but oh, now it’s here. So, what should they ask you? What should HR leaders and executives, cause you’re dealing with finance and you’re dealing with ops, you’re dealing with a bunch of different people, but what should HR leaders, what is the battery of questions that they should ask you?
Matt Wilson: Well, I think you’ve, you’ve hit a nail on the head there. William, I think, the conversations that we find to be the most productive, are nobody knows everything when it comes to setting up a global team. There’s no one person that knows the ins and outs of employment law in every country, the different structures you might use to set that up, plus the taxation part, plus the benefits part, plus the payroll part. And what the conversations we find to be most predictive when those people that aren’t new to it, or are experienced but maybe are going into a a new region. They just come and … It’s quite an anxiety inducing thing, right? You’re a HR leader. You are trying to … You’ve been kind of tasked to set this up and to understand it.
And you, in a lot of the time, you don’t even really know where to start or which questions to ask as you say. So, the conversations that we really enjoy, are those that are, customers that, prospective customers that come to us and they say, “Look, here’s what we are trying to achieve. We want to set up a couple of people in France, we found this great person that we want to set up in Germany and we found somebody fantastic we want to hire in Singapore. And then we want to scale up that Singapore office over the next year from one person to 20.”
What’s important to us is offering a good employee experience. It’s being compliant. And we’ve not done this before. We don’t know what we don’t know. And can you tell us about that? And those are the conversations where we feel we can add the most value when customers come, they can lay out their plans, lay out the things they’re anxious about and then we can go back and say, look, you said an employee experience is really important, here are the areas that … Here is what this looks like in France. Here’s what this looks like in Singapore.
And through doing that, having those conversations, those kind of educational conversations, we really feel, if that’s at a point where they’re considering using a provider like ourselves, where we’re really able to show off, here is the level of experience that we’re going to be able to bring to this relationship. Here is the level of assurance that you’re going to have when working with a partner like us. And here’s the kind of confidence that you’re going to be able to have, that you can then take back, to your team internally and say, “Look, I now know, I don’t know all the answers. I’m educated on the things I was most anxious about, but I know I’ve got a partner here that’s going to be able to sort these things out and it’s going to have the answers to the questions when they arise.”
William Tincup: I love about that as you nailed it in the last sentence is, with this particular relationship, again different HR technology, you can see it as different things. These can be tools. They can be a part of a stack, et cetera. With what you provide, with what Omnipresent provides, it’s a partnership.
Matt Wilson: Yeah.
William Tincup: It, it has to be. Because as you said, I don’t know what I don’t know, that’s everybody, that’s all the time and oh, by the way, it’s changing. So, even if you thought you knew, that’s gone. What are they surprised by? Like when you go through the bid and you start to tell them a little bit about, not just how you do it and what you do and all the experience, but like what are they … In general, what are they surprised? What, kind of like, what? Huh? [crosstalk 00:14:18]
Matt Wilson: Well, I think, I mean if you’ve never done it before, it’s amazing how different the world is, from country to country. I mean, it is … You come in with a reference point being, the environment that you’re used to, the country that you’ve been you’ve grown up in, that you’ve been working in, that you are experienced in, or maybe one or two countries. But then, if you’re looking to build a team in a truly global setting, you look across the level of difference in culture and in regulatory landscape. From France to South Africa, to Singapore, to Japan, to Mexico. And the differences are enormous. And it can be easy to kind of sometimes think, oh, well, the world’s kind of, more or less the same, but there is a vast difference. The level of employee protection differs enormously from country to country. The level of … The level and expectation and type that employee benefits differ so much country to country.
And that could be pretty surprising if you’ve not really thought about it or not really come across it before. When you, when you realize, oh, well, the world doesn’t operate, that doesn’t operate in this kind of homogenous way. You’ve got different countries treating their employment relationships in very different ways. I find that fascinating as somebody who’s operating in that space, right? We live in this beautiful, diverse world and there’s so many different approaches that are going on, but that’s not particularly helpful when you’re trying to run a global organization, because it would be great if everything was flat and operated in exactly the same way and you could deal with it without that complexity, but that’s exactly why we exist and why we we’re in the prime position to come in and help.
William Tincup: It’s actually because in experience with the global providers like this, France and Germany, always all, no offense to anyone, but France and Germany always come up. Always come up. It’s just like, okay, there’s, here’s Europe, here’s continental Europe. And then here’s France in Germany and all by the way, different. You mentioned platform, that you have a single platform. I want to kind of explore a little bit of that. Well, why is that important?
Matt Wilson: I think this is really important and touched on some of the things that we talked about already. When we started out to build Omnipresent and a philosophy that we really carry into how we think about building out our products and services, is you see some providers, some HR providers out there will go and they won’t leverage technology at all. They’ll be a consultancy star service. They’ll have a very long lightweight kind of platform that will help exchange a little bit of information, but ultimately they’ll be human driven. And then you have some other providers that will come and say, well, we’re going to be pure technology companies. You’re going to have a self-service platform, maybe a bit of email support. And, we really believe in, that if you combine the partnership that we talked about, that human touch and the power that technology brings, the scalability, the repeatability, the standardization and the speed that technology brings, but that is a real superpower.
So, we benefit, we all benefit hugely from the digital platforms that we work with being able to not have to pick up the phone every time you want to, check your bank balance, you can go and log in and see that online. That is an enormous benefit. And HR practitioners across the world, don’t want to be constantly having to go to humans with every single minor query or question. But it is really important that you don’t lose that as you go through that digitization journey as well. And that’s really our approach. So, leverage technology as much as you can, but know more than that and don’t lose that human touch and that expertise as you do that. So how can you … We was thinking, how can we lever up our people? How can we lever up our expertise using technology, make sure that we’re doing things in a standardized way, really high quality, really scalable drive down our costs with technology, but also make sure we don’t lose that partnership as we go through that.
William Tincup: For the audience, Matt’s being extremely kind, because sometimes what you’ll see in providers like this is, payroll is one application, benefits is a different application, compliance is a different application. And so, it might be thinly veiled as all one thing, but they’re really three different systems. And they don’t necessarily talk to one another. So, there’s buyer beware and then, so make sure you ask questions about how it’s delivered and built. It would be good advice. As you’re a product person, as you understand the product very well, what’s your favorite part of the demo of when you show Omnipresent to someone for the first time?
Matt Wilson: Yeah, I think that’s a very good question.
William Tincup: It’s like, which of your children is your favorite?
Matt Wilson: I think I don’t. I think it’s hard to pin it down to one specific feature. I think it’s the realization that this anxiety inducing problem, turns into an opportunity. That switch in mindset from, “I’ve got this problem solved. I need to set somebody up in this country and I’ve got to figure all this out. And it’s a bit of a mind field, I don’t really know where to start,” to transitioning that to “Okay, I can see that this … I can see with Omnipresent, I’ve got a partner that I can trust that’s going to help me.” To then realizing, okay, well that doesn’t just mean that we can hire this one person who’s the problem of today, but actually this means that, that problem that we’ve got with hiring great technical people, well, why don’t we expand the talent pool that we’ve got available to us and leverage a partner like Omnipresent to expand that talent pool, to look globally.
When we think about the markets that we can enter, we can move with a lot more agility. We can move and we can really go where we want and be unconstrained. And that change in mindset from being kind of fearful and scared and anxious, to being optimistic and excited and really being able to look out and say, we now have this world of opportunity. That is something that I’m always really excited about. Cause that’s really at the heart of what we stand for and why we exist as a company.
William Tincup: Love that. Okay last question. Favorite customer story, without names, without brands or any of that touch stuff.
Matt Wilson: Another favorite trial story.
William Tincup: All my love, all my children. However, okay. So just, it could be something just recent, just something where you’re like, “Wow, we did this. Like this customer actually did this. This was amazing.”
Matt Wilson: Yeah. I mean, we have a customer that is working on, I won’t go into too much detail, so can I spare there. Just spare identifying, but they’re working on climate change. They’re working on a system to help counteract the … And get more kind of transparency into emissions and into climate change problem. I was talking to, we were talking to one of the HR leaders there, getting a bit of feedback in terms of how the relationship had been, through the first six, nine months. And the … There was this thing that she said, which was, she signed up to work with us and then the end of that week, she had requests from two people in her team to hiring managers, to set up employees internationally. And she was really anxious. Had she chosen the right partner? Was it going to be okay?
And then, the onboarding processes went really smoothly. Those employees were set up. And then she said, “And it was at that moment that I realized that, we could scale, we could grow as an organization and we could move as quickly as we need to move, because,” she was saying they don’t have much time as an organization to counteract climate change in the way that they want to do, and they need to move quickly. They need to be able to access the talent that they want to do. And that through working with us, they’d been able to move at the pace that they needed to. They were able to get access to the talent that they needed and really able to get working and get focused on, on their mission.
And that was a bit of a moment of pride for me. That we do at its core, relatively mundane, bureaucratic work for our customers, right? We handling employment law and taxes and insurance providers, but actually what we’re enabling our customers to do is, some amazing work and it’s really meaningful for them to be able to move quickly with confidence and to move in a truly global way. So, that’s probably my favorite story for the last couple of months.
William Tincup: I love it. Love it. Matt, thank you so much for carving out time, for us and our audience. I absolutely love what you’re doing and I appreciate you coming on the show.
Matt Wilson: No, thank you so much for having me, really enjoyed the chat.
William Tincup: And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast, until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.