Meet the founders: PeopleForce
How did we create a tool that covers different areas of HR and builds a high-performance corporate culture?
Three words: research, analysis and development – this is how Andrew Cetinic, CEO of People Force describes the first 6 months of the company’s operation. How to create All-In-One HR software which helps build a high performance culture? Read an interview with Andrew Cetinic who shares stories of difficult beginnings, team strength and growth in the competitive HR Tech market.
PeopleForce joins our portfolio in 2022.
Pracuj Ventures: What is the story behind your solution? Where did it all begin?
Andrew Cetinic (CEO PeopleForce): In 2019, my colleagues and I were working as an outsourcing services company. Already at that time, we were faced with numerous tasks and processes that needed to be well managed and organized. The bigger the team became, the more routine we had to do – especially the time-consuming tasks like leave management, onboarding and other repetitive tasks.
At first, we looked for a ready-to-use solution on the market among many HR tools, but none of them suited us for several reasons. We wanted a tool with flexible customization, that would combine all the necessary functions for an HR manager or recruiter. But we also needed team members to be able to use it for dealing with tasks and inner communication.
So, we recognized the necessity for a system that would solve our daily needs, automate them and simplify our work. All this experience and challenges were embodied in the PeopleForce HRM/HRIS system. In the early days of developing this system, we invited our clients in the outsourcing industry to use it and share their impressions. When we were able to get positive feedback, we realized that our product could help other businesses to simplify and automate the routine, to build a culture of high performance within the team.
Pracuj Ventures: Let’s talk about motivation. Where did you get the idea to start a startup in the first place ?
AC: After my team and I reached the understanding that our system could help not only us, but other businesses as well, our startup story began. My main motivation was to build a product that would cover different areas of HR and eventually help not only with the daily tasks of employees, but also with building a high-performance corporate culture. In today’s realities, it is hard to keep track of team performance, but it is absolutely necessary for team development. That is why PeopleForce is the biggest project in my life, my child and creation – I knew that one day this system could contribute to the development of the business field itself.
Also, my big motivation for this challenging journey was my team. We started the adventure together, and we are still only growing and reaching new heights together.
Pracuj Ventures: The first six months of your business? How would you summarize them?
AC: Three words: research, analysis and development. We really wanted to do everything we planned, but already in the first months of work on the product, we realized that it would turn out to be much more extensive than we had anticipated. We had to expand our team, look for new inspired like-minded people, involve them in our ideas etc. In general, all the things that any startup has to face. Despite the fact that our team was experienced, we needed to change the area of work to HR Tech and think everything through from the beginning. There were plenty of difficult tasks of prioritizing, researching the market, and identifying key pain points of HR and recruiters.
Therefore, our project developed in stages. First, we took on the biggest tasks to automate HR processes, hiring and onboarding. That’s how we developed the first two modules of our platform – PeopleHR and PeopleRecruit. Somewhere along the way we realized that we were working on a full-fledged SaaS solution, which in the future could become a real hub for HR professionals, with all the tools they need. This means that they will be able to go to the platform – and literally find everything they need to perform and simplify any task.
Pracuj Ventures: What were your biggest difficulties along the way? How have you overcome them?
AC: There were a few of them. At first, we were faced with the definition of a competitive advantage, which makes us different from other HRM platforms. At that time, we focused on post-Soviet countries, so there we could distinguish ourselves by the fact that our product could offer much more functions among competitors. But gradually with wide market scaling we made PeopleForce a flexible HRM/HRIS platform which adjusted to the client needs. Isn’t it the best thing to get functionality which suits your demands without extra add-ons? I bet it is.
Gradually the platform grew, we came to grips with the responsiveness of the customer service of our team. Building a well-functioning customer service is a whole challenge. We’ve been very fortunate to have guys who go to great effort to make sure that a customer problem is resolved in the shortest amount of time. This also sets us apart from others in many ways.
One of the difficult milestones was finding the investment – but that’s something any funder will understand. Fortunately, PeopleForce does not just carry the slogan “Business driven, people focused” but owns up to it. Thanks to the team’s hard work, the startup, which launched in 2019, closed two big rounds of investment in 2021, and in 2022 we joined Pracuj Ventures’ investment portfolio. We were able to retain and scale the business in the midst of its toughest challenge – during the war in Ukraine. Even then, our team did not give up and worked hard from the first days of the Russian invasion. This can say a lot about our attitude to difficulties. We are not afraid of them.
AC: Why the HR-Tech area?
This field is a boundless space for implementing the most ambitious and daring ideas. Talent management is changing every day, there are new challenges, new approaches, and new tools and methods are being tested. In today’s world, in 2022, some approaches to working with talent are becoming outdated. So, it is the automation of processes, establishing communication with remote employees, and hybrid forms of work are coming to the forefront. Therefore, HR Tech is one of the main areas of software development, which grows and develops along with the changes, tightly linked to the work with people, and the human factor. The time has come when the old ways of working with papers, a large number of programs and time-consuming processes are irrevocably obsolete. HR Tech gives people a new vision, helps to conduct business transparently, conveniently and functionally. That’s why PeopleForce develops with support and attention to changes to become one of the leading players in Europe in the field of HR Tech.
Pracuj Ventures: Thank you for this inspiring conversation!
AC: Thank you!