In this podcast, Derek is joined by Chloe Franken for the third time. A Filipina and now the CEO and President of Sophi Inc. Sophi Inc. is an Outsourcing provider focused on startup companies, they support different back office functions. Join Derek as they discuss Chloe’s business experience and her insights about outsourcing.
- Chloe work with startups, she is involved in operations so whenever she gets a new client she is involved in terms of building the team and giving them guidance as to how they should utilize their team to their advantage.
- She thinks that globalization is calling out to outsourcing because our world is getting smaller as we become more digital-minded.
- Chloe discusses her insights about the requirement fits in with the typical Filipino worker attitude, that outsourcing was kind of built on highly repetitive tasks and highly mapped processes in repeat.
- She thinks that Filipinos are starting to think outside the box and be a little more innovative with business ideas.
- How an office works before isn’t necessarily a mirror of what an office is right now. A virtual team is no longer a new concept, a new idea. So, definitely, the direction for the future is outsourcing.
- Sophi’s mission is to be a company that provides work for people and growth for smaller companies.
- Cebu is officially Philippines’ second city.
Derek: Hi welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast my name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 117. Today we are joined again by Chloe Franken, lucky enough to have Chloe is our guest again we have spoken to Chloe at episode 107 and also 112 so if you want to go back and you want to get Chloe’s back story and you also want to hear me dig into Chloe’s outsourcing service company which is called Sophi then go back and listen to those previous episodes. Chloe is super interesting girl and she has kind of grown up alongside outsourcing and the opportunities that brings for pupil like her people in the Philippines and the Philippines genuinely but also for companies in the west so it’s an interesting chat we talk more broadly today and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you want any of the show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/117.
By the way, I do apologize for some of the sounds we do have couple of sound issues in this podcast but I’ve tried my best to edit it out and it’s still a really good conversation so, enjoy.
Derek: Okay, welcome back everybody today we’re joined by Chloe Franken once again. Hi, Chloe.
Chloe: Hi Derek, how are you?
Derek: Fantastic thank you so you have joined us twice before which I’m grateful for and we discussed your personal journey in outsourcing and then also Sophi which is your outsourcing service provision which specializes in startups so I’m just happy to have you back and really just want to dig into your outsourcing but also business experience to give some insight into the potential for the Philippines for outsourcing for people out there so I suppose initially could you maybe introduce yourself and just give people a sense of your background and what you’re doing at the moment.
Chloe: Hi everybody i’m Chloe and I’m the CEO and president of Sophi we’re basically a company that caters to startups in the US and we’re slowly getting in to Europe and we primarily specialize in customer service and back end support these text startups and we’re looking into growing our business and we are soon gonna start our office in Cebu which will greatly expand our services and we’re looking for great clients to work with us because we have a bunch of good people who are talented who can definitely help out your business.
Derek: Fantastic so you are kind of specializing in the CEO tight roles within US-based startups so your value proposition is that you can help these startups their probably overworked, underpaid and their core skills are not customer service and you can come in and assist them with customer service and I assume other roles such as a bit of bookkeeping, admin and things like that is that correct?
Chloe: Right correct exactly yeah, when we work with startups they don’t only get you know agents and a team to work on their account. I very much involved in operations so when I get a new client I’m involved in terms of building the team and giving them guidance as to how they should utilize their team to their advantage and we definitely give supports especially for new companies who are just starting to dabbling in to outsourcing and also growing their business so we work hand in hand with these startups to build the customer support team and come up with a process for them to efficiently delegate tasks their offshore team in the Philippines.
Derek: Do you see as the future in outsourcing that the majority of tasks will get done by outsourcing because it’s cheaper and more efficient and also the outsources such as yourself you’re actually probably better at doing it than them and as well you know you were saying we were talking previously and SMEs are maybe a little bit slower on taking up these differences but startups they’re kind of younger and fresher in mind they’re embracing this stuff is it the future that everyone’s operation activities will be done overseas?
Chloe: Well I guess you know looking at the future, per se, I think really globalization is calling out to outsourcing because our world is getting smaller as we become more digital minded and how an office works before doesn’t necessarily a mirror what an office is right now so a virtual team is no longer a new concept a new idea so definitely the direction for the future is outsourcing primarily because the world is just getting smaller by being so connected to each other even if we’re in different continents and for startups with having an open mind to creatively grow their company outsourcing is a natural choice because you get people who are very skilled and who are willing to do the job at such a lower rate that it really allows you to grow your business and focus on other things and it allows you to bring that focus on business development and growing your company in the US while everyone else takes cares of you back office side and I think that’s a great marriage for growing companies.
Derek: Yeah it’s incredible because you Sophi now after 5 years of bonus growth you have 200 staff which is quite incredible but you’re still certainly on the smaller end of BPOs. You’re now looking to grow up to 500 staff potentially and this is why you’re looking at Cebu which is super exciting but again you’re still the smallest scale of outsourcing but if you mention 500 employees to a western company they would almost fall of their chair because western companies are so used to running things on 3 or 4 staff it’s really a different shift and the Philippines they’re experts in people management HR management building these teams and kind of operating these operational functions.
Chloe: Yeah, I think for a small company might be a little intimidating because we’re asking like how many agents do you have and I say 500 and for them who’s only looking into hiring 1 person they might get intimidated but that’s the beauty of our business because we don’t shy away from smaller companies who just need 1 person for support and we welcome that because part of our objective mission and vision is to help out startups and a long side startups our mission is also to give jobs to Dumaguete and smaller cities so it goes hand in hand with our mission to be this company providing work for people and providing growth for smaller companies
Derek: Interesting and then so you looking to expand and you’re choosing Cebu or you’re certainly looking into Cebu which is I believe is it officially Philippines second city.
Chloe: Yes I think so or could be head to head with Davao but Cebu is definitely like I think the second biggest metropolitan city in the Philippines alongside Manila
Derek: So are you exploring these secondary cities why as most BPOs aren’t you heading to Manila?
Chloe: Well for one there’s a lot of competition in Manila, that’s 1. Number 2, I hate the traffic in Manila and I don’t want to be in Manila that’s my own selfish reason to not go to Manila. Well Manila is a little bit more congested 1 and 2 Manila is more expensive and 3 Visaya proud heritage, we like to keep it in the Visayas area because it’s just you know closer to our main headquarters in Dumaguete and Cebu is I think just a 40 minute plane ride from Dumaguete so it’s very convenient and what we’re planning is to really send over our local staff here in Dumaguete to Cebu and have our local team there as well so it works well for us because it’s so near each other that going from 1 office to the other is more convenient than you know versus going in Manila.
Derek: And with focus on startups what I know of startups is that you need people that are very adaptable that can change processes fast that can think on their feet they also need to be a generalist because usually, startups don’t have many staff and you having to cover a dozen different roles. How do you feel that requirement fits in with the typical sort of Filipino worker attitude is it true because outsourcing was kind of built on highly repetitive tasks being done and highly mapped processes in repeat for an over but the market has moved on a lot but how do you find the Filipino workforce suited to this highly dynamic and very varied roles
Chloe: Well that’s why I always that Sophi is not a typical call center because we find people who adopt to that type of culture what I find in bigger centers that some of the agents that they hire could be great at english but in a script type of communication where they rely on a script, they sound great diction pronunciation it’s all there it’s all on point however they might not necessarily really understand what they’re saying from the script and that’s what kind of sets us apart because we look for people who are comfortable in the english language who are articulate and who can be spontaneous and who can think of their feet without relying on a script and who won’t be intimidated if they need to do something else outside of the ordinary task that were originally given so I see that there is a market for that there are people who actually Filipinos you know surprisingly they’re not the typical profile where they just need something repetitive and from our experience hiring for startups here in Dumaguete when we find young people they actually like a job that has a lot of variety in them so for them they like it they like that they get to do different things they don’t like monotony so it works and sometimes it’s a little bit hard to find people who share that same mind set because majority of the workforce are more inclined to traditional call center operations versus these type of operations where it’s a little bit spontaneous but there are people out there who share that same mindset and that’s what we’re trying to look for in Cebu and we successfully have done that in Dumaguete.
Derek: I think the market’s maturing a lot isn’t it in terms of the candidates out there certainly when you know i’ve been looking to build big teams you get the staff from bigger BPO’s and outsources and they’re very used to a very structured environment, also they have a huge amount of training resources an HR resources, QA team managers and so they kind of are almost put in to a little box of functionality but then when they’re asked to broaden their roles then they might struggle a little bit but the I suppose younger generation they’re actually maybe looking to sort of Silicon Valley where there’s a whole startup mentality and they’re adapting very quickly to a mentality of just getting there roll up your sleeves and using initiative you know?
Chloe: Yeah when we hire younger agents, it’s a lot easier because they share that mentality from people that we hire from traditional call centers it takes a bit of time to kind of unlearn what they’ve learned in bigger call centers and it’s an adjustment however you know when they see that hey doing this is a lot more relaxing and less stressful versus being in another call center that has this traditional process in place it kind of then start to embrace it but it does take a bit of an adjustment especially when you’ve been working at a big call center for like 5 years it’s a shock it’s something really new to them to be like okay so I talk to the CEO now of the startup and said yeah you can have a meeting with him which is very much you know out there for bigger call centers because then you have to go through the team lead to the manager to an account manager and the agent doesn’t really have that face time with heads and the founders and the CEO’s of these companies because it’s such a big company but with us when we work with startups the executive team they’re very much hands on so it’s a shock for some of these traditional agents to just have a conversation with the founder on their computer without having a lead with them so it’s adjustment.
Derek: Where there any filter yeah between the work and it’s interesting as well because you know these startup founders, they’re are very inexperienced in outsourcing typically so they don’t know a lot of the standards and norm process either and you know again the kind of the normal default of most startups CEOs they expect all of their team to train themselves and figure out any issues on the go and just create their own solutions and you know again that’s very different to standardized BPOs where every process is mapped out and it’s thought about 3x before it’s even launched so it’s quite a positive evolutionized in the market and the Philippines workforce is certainly keeping up phased. I do also see the do you see a butting startup community and app type startups within the Philippines?
Chloe: Yeah so I think i know that there’s this event called gigs on the beach where they invite potential startups to mingle and not work with other entrepreneurs young entrepreneurs so I see a huge trend on encouraging entrepreneurs to start theirs on businesses. Sophi was part of Google business crew a few years back and with Google business group they really tap the SMEs to use technology to grow their business and GBG is what they call themselves they’re very passionate about growing small businesses and moving them digital agents sort of traditional operations and I think I see that culture it’s starting to grow and Filipinos are starting to think outside the box be a little more innovative with business ideas and I see potential it might be slow but it’s getting there.
Derek: Yeah it’s happening isn’t it? Because I suppose to put it in context with BPO out there a lot of the small business in the Philippines is pretty old school still you know virtually none of it would be digitized you’re sort on paper a lot of but yeah very certainly as in Manila now there’s a lot of startup events a lot of preaching events I know gigs in the beach obviously and it’s really becoming quite an exciting environment and again there’s the kind of youth embraced this it’s gonna build a workforce that is just so kind of aligned them and tuned in the west that the Silicon Valley and that whole thing.
Chloe: Right definitely and it’s exciting because it’s just bringing more jobs to the country you know for a young person in college their option is not just a nurse and go to the States and be a nurse you know you can follow your passion and you can do something that you really love whether it’s in media, in marketing or whatever career you’re thinking about because having theses businesses just create more jobs in the country and it’s nice to stay in the country and help the country grow you know.
Derek: Yeah it’s important to keep the brains in the country suppose to the historically the overseas farm worker they leave the country and that creates the brain going. thank you so much Chloe and of course you are from Sophi which is a specialized startup BPO if people want to get touch with you or learn more where can they go?
Chloe: They can simply go to our website that’s Sophi-inc.com and then just click on the box that says starter free trial and we will get in touch with them right away.
Derek: Fantastic and of course all of that will be in the show notes. Thank you, Chloe.
Derek: Ok that was Chloe Franken of Sophi Bpo Services. If you want to get in touch with Sophi or know anymore anything about this episode then go our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/117 and of course, if you want to ask us anything then please do just drop us an email at [email protected], see you next time.