March 27, 2019

[INTERVIEW] Swingvy out to tackle HR challenges in SE Asia

PUBLISHED : April 06, 2018 - 16:53

UPDATED : April 10, 2018 - 16:17

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[THE INVESTOR] SINGAPORE -- HR tech startup Swingvy was born out of one simple question: Why do employees still have to print a vacation request form, wait to receive signature from their supervisors and submit it weeks in advance?

Jin Choeh, cofounder and CEO of Swingvy, noticed many firms in Southeast Asia were still relying on hard copy documents to manage HR tasks.  

Jin Choeh, cofounder and CEO of Swingvy
Park Ga-young/The Investor

“It didn’t make sense. There had to be a better way,” Choeh told The Investor in a recent interview in Singapore. “So first, I built a simple software on my own that could track vacation and time-off requests for people to use.”

When the beta version rolled out, some small firms started using his software immediately. These “customers” also began requesting other HR functions to be added to the software, including an employee contact list. 

“That’s when I spotted a business opportunity,” Choeh said. “Especially in Asia, when firms grow to a certain size they easily expand businesses across neighboring countries. And when there are multiple offices, keeping track of paperwork and HR could become a bigger challenge.”

That’s also the reason why Swingvy adopted cloud-based software; so anyone can log on at different locations.

After researching, developing and visiting Silicon Valley-based HR startups, Choeh established Swingvy with three other cofounders in July 2016. It now has three offices, in Malaysia, Singapore and Korea. 

Choeh said there are around 70 million small and medium enterprises in the Southeast Asia region, about 14 times more than the US market, where it already has big-name HR tech startups such as Zenefits, Gusto and Namely. But in Southeast Asia, there’s no market leader yet. 

“The heyday of HR tech has just kicked off in the region and it will grow fast,” Choeh said, adding he wants Swingvy to be at the forefront of the market boom. 

Swingvy HR software

To do so, the firm has taken on the so-called “freemium” model. Under it, core HR software including an employee directory, calendars, vacation applications and evaluation forms are given out for free, while premium services such as payroll, benefits and insurance services are charged. 

So far, Swingvy has around 2,300 firms using its platform, with 1,700 coming from Malaysia and the rest from Singapore. About 20 percent of firms use the paid service. 

“The free HR software is Swingvy’s Trojan horse to scale and get firms onboard our integrated platform,” he said. “Once they are hooked, they will move on to adopt payroll and further insurance services. In the end, this all-in-one service automates and streamlines the entire HR process at reduced time and costs.”

Swingvy is now eying to enter Taiwan and Hong Kong in the second half of this year. 

For this, the firm hopes to complete Series A funding by end of this year. Last year, it raised US$1.1 million seed funding from US-based Big Basin Capital and Walden International, after SparkLabs’ accelerating program.

By Park Ga-young and Ahn Sung-mi (  (

This story was sponsored by the Samsung Press Foundation. - Ed.

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