Established in 2002 in the living room of a flat in Randburg, the brother directors, Bruce, Warren, Clyde van Wyk and George Karageorgiades, designed and built PaySpace from scratch.
The four founders came from humble beginnings and knew they would have to grab every opportunity and merge that with the desire to build a successful and valuable future for themselves, their families and those willing to join the adventure. With a foundation in software development and having all previously worked together at an international payroll company before starting PaySpace, the founders realised that the payroll and HR software industry, not only locally but globally, was all built using old technology, a phenomenon still prevalent today. The lack of accessibility to information and automation and processing approaches was legacy based, inefficient and costly. The most challenging hurdle would also be building a product and business that could compete against 20 – 30 year plus established companies that held the market monopoly.
The four founders embarked on the challenge to consistently innovate through technology and disrupt the market, which is still a core mandate today.
As start-up entrepreneurs, there was an agreement from the beginning that they wanted equality in everything they did. So they pooled their income earned from consulting to equally fund the others, as they were pulled out of the consulting market, one by one, as affordability allowed them to develop the product full time. Scoping, design sessions and line-by-line coding took place after hours and well into the early hours of the following day before the next consulting day began. This bootstrapping model ensured that they were debt-free from the outset.
PaySpace launched its integrated Payroll and Human Resources platform in 2007, with one tax country being South Africa. Becoming the first South African and, importantly, cloud-native payroll provider to eliminate the time consuming payroll runs and backup procedures required by most legacy payroll and HR software at the time.
The four founders then embarked on building business pillars such as sales, marketing, compliance, finance, and support. They self-taught these requirements to establish them accordingly and, as a result, have an integral day-to-day knowledge of all the running parts of the business.
“One of the first, and the largest customer that we acquired, after six years of development, and going to market in 2007, is still a customer today.”
“The first customer insisted on seeing our offices and drove up from Durban. We were working out of our flat in Randburg. We tried to get him to understand that a cloud business didn’t need an office and we could meet at Regus. However, he insisted on seeing our operation to ensure we existed. We scrambled to take the couches out of the lounge and into the garage, set up tables in their place and had two pull-up banners made. The day ended with a tour of our then hosting site. Today they are still a PaySpace customer with over 2000 employees in 3 countries.”
In 2010 the product footprint offering was increased to 11 countries, and by 2014 we had 37 countries on offer. This number grew to 40 in 2019, and in 2022 we have a presence in more than 43 countries with planned expansion into Brazil and the UK.
While most competitors are cloud washing to make it look like they are shifting to the cloud and trying to stay relevant. We did not. We have not migrated or facelifted a legacy product but rather achieved a rare feat by doing what no other competitor has achieved before, successfully building a true cloud-native, single instance multi-tenant solution from scratch and future-proofing a payroll and HR product and service offering for all of our customers, for decades to come.
We’ve learnt many lessons while establishing ourselves as the leaders in this industry and technology space. These experiences have allowed us to continually evolve the offering to ensure innovation, scalability, and flexibility to meet market needs and deliver on being the benchmark.
In 2016 we enhanced the technology stack to the next generation of tools and approaches. We shifted the hosting to a world-class Microsoft Azure facility that allows us to instantly add power, performance, and scale and do quality assurance testing unrivalled. In addition, there is real-time monitoring of the platform, with built-in notifications that deliver on security mandates from legislation such as GDPR and POPIA.
We have put together one of the strongest, most competent development teams on the continent, if not the world. In fact, it’s one of our largest departments in the company. As a result, we are doing things with cutting-edge technologies that are forefront globally and ensure customers have chosen the right solution from a short, medium and long-term perspective.
One of the best chapters in the PaySpace storybook was the appointment of Sandra Crous to Managing Director in April 2019. Sandra brings tried and tested experience, leadership, laser focus and innovative strategies designed to give customers and partners the best possible end product, toolsets and experience.
In 2021 PaySpace became the first African payroll provider to be a Workday certified integration partner with seamless integration flowing between the systems for those customers.
As another first to market, in February 2022, we launched Pacey, the payroll and HR employee self-service feature, through WhatsApp.
Coupled with hard work and innovation, the bootstrapping philosophy has paid off for the four determined South African entrepreneurs while creating employment opportunities for its over 200 colleagues. All staff work remotely around the globe in an environment that suits their personal choice and family setups. Our first ever employees, Crystal Logan, Sello Mohlabe, and Vicky Bester, are still with us, leading the experience with over ten years at PaySpace each.
The pioneering history of PaySpace is characterised by continuous exploration and refinement of our HCM solution to create a global benchmark product led by technology. The single instance, multi-tenanted application is ideal for companies with a cloud-first strategy. This has made PaySpace the vendor of choice for over 11 000 international and local blue-chip customers ranging in size from one-person shops to enterprise listed businesses with thousands of employees each. In addition, PaySpace continues to assist businesses by enabling them to grow and drive their internal processes and adhere to tax legislative compliance.
As a business, we need to be resilient, creative, and courageous to compete in a local, regional, and global market. We are the fastest growing payroll and HR company on the continent which shows we are doing the right things for the market requirement in setting the benchmark.
All of this would not be possible without the dedication, passion and focus of all our colleagues at PaySpace and the customers and partners who trust us to deliver on our service and promise.
Bruce, Clyde, George, and Warren