Accredify Digest: CEO Quah Zheng Wei on 2022 Milestones & 2023 Ambitions
It is surreal that an entire year has passed us by so quickly. One is tempted to wonder if there were more gains than losses amidst the whirlwind, but we could never be certain of net positive without careful contemplation. Now, we stand on the precipice of a brand new year: the perfect opportunity to take stock of where we were, where we are, and where we are going.
This process of reflecting on our journey encourages and fills me with hope for this coming year.
Here is what Accredify has achieved in the past year, and the direction we’ve set for 2023.
2022: A year of gaining ground
One of Project Ceito’s bi-weekly townhalls
Of course, 2022 was not the easiest of years. The shadow of a looming recession fell over the tech industry like an ominous pall. The year began with quiet murmurs of falling financial performance from infallible industry giants, which quickly became the loudest news of layoffs and organisational cuts. What the industry feared very soon became reality.
We were concerned, but we knew we could manage with proper planning. This included rallying the team so that we were of one mind and all of one mind to pursue company growth in the same direction.
Thus, Project Ceito was born. This is Accredify’s version of ‘disaster preparedness’ in the face of industry instability. It consists of tying up loose ends and optimising our performance. Tying up loose ends included stricter budgetary controls, more stringent hiring requirements, sharper product development, and an unprecedented level of focus on customer success. We also optimised performance through streamlining decision-making processes, breaking large teams up into “task forces” for greater agility, and established more consistent progress checks.
Perhaps more important than operational adjustments is the re-orienting of our team’s attitudes. Project Ceito takes a leaf out of what is known at Amazon as the “Day 1 mentality”. We wanted the team to refocus our energy on the customer – to put the customer at the centre of everything we do. In fact, “Ceito” is the name of the company my Co-founders and I founded before Accredify. Naming the project after our first company is a homage to the idea that we are going back to the start of our journey, to lose any sense of complacency, and to focus on what’s important: the customer.
It was also important to keep team morale up as part of Project Ceito. When we are constantly bombarded with news about how poorly our industry is faring, the implementation of something like Project Ceito could create intense feelings of anxiety among the team. To help our team cope with the stress, we provided small gestures of welfare like catered lunches for teammates working in the office, and a private transport budget for those putting in late hours.
But perks were only a small part of our plan to keep our team’s spirits high. To foster a greater sense of camaraderie, we introduced Demo Day. We broke our development sprints down into two-week tasks, and at the end of each sprint, the tech team would share product development updates with the rest of the company during Demo Day. In essence, these were bi-weekly town halls where the tech team conducted company-wide demos to showcase our product development progress, as well as to garner feedback from the broader team. Other than hearing from the tech team, Demo Day also involved commending exceptional performers, recapping important engagements and news coverage, and receiving updates from the Business Development team on the progress of deals.
These Demo Days enabled us to keep the team close, and up to speed, on Accredify’s progress. We wanted everyone to feel that we were all going through it together and that nobody was ever alone, and I believe that Demo Days achieved this goal to a large extent.
Truth be told, when we first implemented Project Ceito on 18 May 2022, my Co-founders and I were unsure if we made the right decision. We knew we had to be proactive in steering the company through these troubled waters, but we had doubts about what measures needed to be taken, and to what degree. In more ways than one, Project Ceito seemed to be an extreme response to the tremors of industry-wide turbulence.
However, the note from Y Combinator that went out the day after, advising founders to “plan for the worst” made us more confident in our decision. This was an invaluable learning experience for the team, especially for management. Fundamentally, we learned that we had to trust our gut during volatile times – to take smart and calculated risks, and to get comfortable with uncertainty while we stay the course that we have chosen. After all, who would know what’s best for the company, if not the management team?
As a result of Project Ceito, we witnessed amazing growth in the following six areas:
(1) Growth in revenue
Our revenue has more than doubled in 2022 compared to 2021, thanks to the support of our partners and a growing portfolio of clients who trust us. This is an immensely encouraging milestone for Accredify.
(2) Growth in brands that trust us
Our portfolio of clients has grown by 200%. It is a tremendous honour to have earned the trust of all of our clients, and we only hope to serve you better in the coming year.
(3) Growth in the use of TrustTech
As of today, we have issued over 2 million verifiable documents in total and processed nearly 12 million verifications on these issued documents. This reflects a 50% increase in verifiable documents issued from 2021, and is double the volume of verifiable documents issued in our entire operating lifetime since we began working with clients in 2019 – all in a single year. It is evident more than ever that the world is increasingly moving towards verification technology and the Web3 ecosystem.
Coming back to the strategic approach we set for ourselves in 2022, there was a focus on expanding into new industry verticals through verifiable data innovations. Today, we are proud to share that, with the support of our esteemed partners and clients, we have expanded TrustTech into three new industry verticals in the past year. The industries that Accredify is currently present in are Healthcare, Education, Human Resources, Corporate, Defence, and Fine Jewellry.
(4) Growth in the Accredi-team
The Accredi-team has grown in a more directed manner over the past year, increasing in headcount by 37%, despite the challenging tech climate in 2022. Here’s how we have grown.
Tech has grown by welcoming:
- More frontend and backend developers
- Specialists in areas such as AI/ML and Laravel
- Project managers
Business Development has grown by welcoming:
- Head of Government and Enterprise Sales
- Business Development Managers
- Customer support frontliners
Marketing and Communications has grown by welcoming:
- Content Marketing Specialists
In my previous reflection, I noted that the company’s strategic approach for 2022 included scaling up our team’s capabilities and increasing our focus on product development. This shift in our hiring priorities is part of our alignment with this overarching strategic approach.
By welcoming more capable and specialised teammates to our company, we prepare ourselves with the required knowledge and skills to pursue our ambitions for 2023.
(5) Expansion into Australia
The last focus of our 2022 strategic approach was to develop our international presence across the region.
Accredify is proud to share that we have set up our first international office in Sydney, Australia, in the past year. Australia is focused on building its digital economy, whether it be developing digital identities for its citizens or encouraging industries to adopt emerging technologies to digitalise. Faced with such rapid digitalisation at a national scale, it is more important than ever to meet our clients where they live to be able to serve them better.
Amidst ongoing fruitful conversations with clients and partners in Australia, Accredify also had the opportunity to work, in partnership with Thalassa Consulting, on a project commissioned by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.
(6) Awards and accolades
2022 was a humbling year for us as well, as it was the year we became an award(s)-winning firm. It encourages the team immensely when the impact of TrustTech is recognised by experts and communities in various industries, across the region and the globe.
In the year 2022, we were awarded the following accolades:
- SBR Technology Excellence Awards, Blockchain – Education (Winner)
- G20 Digital Innovation Network, Top 2 EdTech Startups
- HolonIQ, Top 50 Southeast Asia EdTech firms
- Origin Innovation Awards, Startup Leader of the Year (Web 3 Disruptor) – Winner
- Channel Asia Innovation Awards, Start-up Innovation – Customer Value (Winner)
- Channel Asia Innovation Awards, Asean-wide Innovation – Regional (Winner)
- Red Herring Top 100 Global Winner
- President’s Certificate of Commendation for outstanding contributions in the fight against COVID-19
In addition, my fellow co-founders and I have been nominated as part of the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia Class of 2022. This was a shared dream between the four of us when we first embarked on our entrepreneurship journey, and it is almost hard to believe that it has come true.
Successful fundraising to supercharge future plans
We are also enthused to welcome onboard world-class investors, and are also immensely grateful for the continued support of our existing investors, who have placed greater confidence in us by increasing their investment amounts. More information will be shared in a following official release.
Warren Buffet’s words, “be greedy when others are fearful”, inspired the team greatly. While the world braced for the worst as the economy slowed down, we kept our eyes on our goal and focused on putting our best foot forward for our Series A fundraising round. Having started our preparations nearly half a year earlier than most, we eventually found ourselves in an advantageous position to fundraise effectively and fruitfully, despite the poorer global economic conditions.
2023: Reaching further
In 2023, our strategic focus can be distilled down into three key thrusts:
- Talent acquisition
Today, we are proud that we have brought on board some of the best talents to strengthen the team’s capabilities. We will continue to invest in the best people who can make Accredify’s vision a reality.
- Enhancing sales & partner strategies
We will double down on proven sales strategies, both in local and international markets, to strengthen our market leadership. We will also simultaneously build up our partner strategies to leverage the competitive strengths of our network.
- Innovating for a trustless future
Lastly, we will continue to invest in innovation to build digital trust products of the future. The outline of our vision of a trustless world is becoming clearer with each passing day, and we will stay the course to turn it into a reality that benefits all.
Words cannot express our gratitude for the unwavering support from our partners and clients. These achievements were only possible with the trust and confidence that you have placed in us. From all of us at Accredify, thank you.
To individuals and organisations who are keen to explore what verifiable data can do for you, our doors are always open.
We are hopeful for what 2023 has in store, and we hope you will stick around to see what we do next.
Until next year!
Quah Zheng Wei
Chief Executive Officer, Accredify