BlueMeg is a global entity management and corporate governance software that enables companies to transact and interact digitally, automating many of the manual tasks around corporate governance. Founded in 2017 by JP Koolmees, Jan-Arie Byloos, Paul du Long and Kiana Maggiolo, BlueMeg has completely transformed the global corporate services industry whilst earning multiple recognitions for its product along the way.
We speak with the Co-founder and Head of Business Development of BlueMeg - Kiana Maggiolo - on the benefits of starting a business in Singapore, and why businesses need to invest in digital tools.
Tell me more about yourself and BlueMeg
I worked as a corporate lawyer for 7 years before deciding to pursue my MBA at INSEAD’s Asia campus - which was how I ended up in Singapore and met the other three co-founders of BlueMeg - JP, Jan-Arie and Paul.
JP had an impressive track record in the traditional corporate services and trust industry and he strongly believes in digitising that sector, while Jan-Arie and Paul were already pioneering the digitisation of this sector in Singapore. As for me, I strongly believe in the intersection between corporate law, technology and business. We discovered that it was a good match between all of us and that’s how BlueMeg was born!
My role at BlueMeg involves overseeing the commercial and operational aspects of the business. From increasing our customer base, to ensuring our customers are onboarded properly, and that they are getting the full value of the product.
Did you face any hurdles in getting clients to invest in your software and digitising their business?
Definitely. We experienced a reluctance from potential clients to invest in the software as people were used to sticking to the same paper-based processes. So we found that we had to invest more into educating clients and demonstrating how digitisation and automation can actually bring their businesses and customers more value.
What do you prioritise as a business when serving clients?
Client experience is really important to us. From the moment we’re in touch with a client, we want to make sure the client is well taken care of.
Another priority we have is listening to our clients. There is no point in building a product if your clients don’t see value in it. It’s important to know what your clients’ needs are so that you can adapt to it. We frequently reach out to our clients to get feedback on their experience of using the BlueMeg Console, and relay it to the product team in order to continually improve our product.
Why did you choose to have BlueMeg be based in Singapore?
We actually started our company simultaneously across Singapore and Hong Kong, with Singapore being the primary market, and Hong Kong as the secondary market. Singapore is a very friendly place to do business and it’s a great place to be based. It’s stable from all sorts of angles from its legal to political and financial infrastructure - that’s one of the main reasons why we’re here.
Another reason is that for our sector specifically, Singapore is a leader in terms of digitisation of services and industries. It is a digital-friendly country and the government is looking to roll out this vision nationally. As a result, the government has poured a lot of money and resources to promote digitisation, so if you’re a digital company looking to sell software as a service, you can easily ride that wave.
What are your thoughts on automation and its place in a business?
I think automation is inevitable as technology in general is making businesses run efficiently and more smoothly, which is what customers want - they want a seamless experience with no interruption from the moment they purchase a product or a service.
That’s why businesses will need to have the technological tools in place to automate and digitise certain parts of their business. That being said, I think that you always have to have a strong counterbalance to automation with human touch points. It’s the delicate balance between utilising automation and having the right people complement automated processes that makes for a great customer experience.
Have API integration partnerships helped you strengthen your business? How so?
We believe very strongly in API integration and interconnectivity, because of the way our product has been designed.
With BlueMeg, we’ve built a core feature that focuses on digitising businesses and stakeholders, allowing them to collaborate. However, from a corporate governance perspective, there are other functions a business may also require such as accounting, payroll & HR, financial services, audit, etc.
At BlueMeg, our view is that we will not necessarily build software for those other functions as there are many companies out there who have built amazing products which complement what we do. Which is why we’re very much relying on that open API infrastructure of a lot of these products - which are leaders in their market - so that we can connect to them and provide added value to our customers.
For instance, we’re integrating with Xero to bridge the gap between corporate governance and accounting so that our customers can experience a seamless flow of data across both platforms and business functions.
Government APIs are also very important to us. For example, we’ve built an integration with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) that allows us to pull a client’s existing company data from the government authority by just entering the Unique Entity Number (UEN) of the registered company in our Console. This integration enables us to onboard our clients into our platform efficiently and accurately by pulling all that information at the click of a button, and then utilising that data to kickstart the automation process for our clients.
What do you think businesses should anticipate for in the future?
Across all types of industries and sectors, companies that are able to serve their client base in a digital way will be winners, and clients that insist on serving companies the traditional way will slowly become redundant.
It is important for all businesses to start the journey of digitising their business. The demand for digital practices will only grow stronger due to the population driving it. Our generation and our children’s generations are the new consumers and decision makers in tomorrow’s retail or B2B markets. If you’re launching a business today, it’s best to offer a digital touchpoint somewhere in your business.
Based on your experience with BlueMeg, what advice would you give to similar startups who may be looking to be based in Singapore?
For startups, the advice I would give is to tap into all the support that you have available to you. For instance in Singapore, there is a great entrepreneurial community, great government support and various startup programmes you can join. I would also caution businesses that may start in Singapore but are wanting to expand into the neighbouring regions, to keep in mind that Singapore should not serve as a proxy for those other jurisdictions. Markets can be very different even though they may be geographically close.
I would also recommend having your company registered in Singapore as it’s a good place for startups regardless of where your operating market is. Singapore has a stable government, and is a good place to raise money for your business.
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