Raising Sprout | Inquirer Business

Raising Sprout

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 01:00 AM December 18, 2016
Patrick and Alex Gentry say Sprout  is their “most demanding” kid —ELOISA LOPEZ

Patrick and Alex Gentry say Sprout
is their “most demanding” kid —ELOISA LOPEZ

If they wanted to, the founders of a software company could be the country’s poster couple for tech startups.

Barely in their 30s, husband and wife Patrick and Alex Gentry are running Sprout, a software as a solution (SaaS) startup enterprise focused on human resources solutions.

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That’s on top of raising two young children, although the couple say their “most demanding kid” is Sprout.

Created in 2015, Patrick was the first one on board after leaving his former employer, a real-estate and business process outsourcing firm, for which he initially designed such technology.

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“They put up a website called Payroll Pie, for small companies to use. And they were just thinking, oh, we just need to put up a website and people are going to sign up! And nothing happened,” says Alex, “They got a lot of sign-ups—a ton—but the adoption was really low. Nobody was focusing on it. And then it just got to a point wherein Patrick said, it’s time to share this.”

Alex, on the other hand, came into the picture gradually—first, with Patrick just asking for her opinion on Sprout’s design.

“And then finally, he was, like, why don’t you just come to the office with me?” she says.

A Broadcast Communication graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman, Alex was initially a Computer Science student who shifted courses after “seeing all the math.”

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She used to work for Hinge Media, which is now under the Inquirer Group of Companies and known as Hinge Inquirer Publications (HiP), a company she stayed with for eight years prior to joining her husband in Sprout.

Patrick, on the other hand, a Canadian-American, came to the Philippines in 2008, after working as an environmental consultant in Canada. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Environmental Science.

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“I shocked fish back in Canada, because there when you want to cut down trees in a forest, you have to make sure there are no spawning salmon. So environmental consultants come in and assess these tributaries. We had this backpack on, which is basically like a generator, and this metal tail and a zapper which we just put in the water, and if there’s fish, they float. They don’t die, but they’re stunned,” explains Patrick, “This is one of the reasons Alex found me so interesting, which got me a follow-up date.”

The two met in 2010 “at my birthday party,” Patrick says.

“No, not his party,” Alex interjects, “He claims it was his party.”

“It was a rooftop party, and it was on my birthday. So it was my party,” Patrick replies, “I dropped my whole beer on her foot. And I was memorable after that.”

Married three years later and now parents to a 3 1/2-year-old girl and a 1 1/2-year-old boy, the couple are focused on Sprout full-time, with the help of 45 employees. While most of their clients come from the BPO industry—since it’s where Patrick came from—Patrick says their products also cater to companies with “crazy schedules,” such as those in the hospitality, management, and food and beverage industries, and even government. When he first began to market Sprout to potential clients, Patrick discovered that many still perform HR tasks manually, such as filling up physical forms to file leaves instead of doing it online.

“So we fixed that,” Patrick says, “We’re taking companies from pen and paper to this postmodern, cloud-based, enterprise SaaS system.”

Sprout has two modules: Sprout HR, which focuses on data management, automated timekeeping, business intelligence, unique benefits (i.e. allowing employees to save for retirement from the dashboard); and Sprout Payroll, which features one-click payroll processing, government reports and digital pay slips.

They summarize their ultimate goal for the Philippines’ HR processes in one hashtag: #paperless2020.

Sprout also brings to the local market their Silicon Valley experience, since Patrick, Alex, and other key staff members recently went through a four-month accelerator program under Acceleprise.

Even with both their families living abroad, Patrick and Alex say they decided to set up shop here in the Philippines because it’s here in Asia where they see exciting potential business growth.

“There’s opportunity everywhere you look here. In the West, it’s so saturated, so established already with so many incumbents, and the growth rate is, like, one percent. I always tell people, the opportunity is here. And not even here, exporting to another country; no, it’s really doing business here for Filipinos,” Patrick says.

Add to that the fact that the two “really work well as a team,” Alex says, “not just in business, but in a lot other things. I think we’re really lucky to have that dynamic.”

“Yes, because you would die if you didn’t. Everything would just fail,” says Patrick.

“But we’re having a lot of fun,” adds Alex.

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