Lifestyle

PERX TECHNOLOGIES SURPASSES 5 BILLION API CALLS UNDER ANNA GONG’S LEADERSHIP

by Marc Almagro, Photos by Zulfadli Rahman, assisted by Tracey Nguyen, shot on location at ETRO Home Interiors

 

  • Dedication to global standards and ethical practices helped Perx achieve ISO and GDPR compliance while underscoring the company’s responsible, forward-thinking approach
  • Perx adheres to high ethical standards in tech and servicing large regulated enterprises, especially in financial services; it is committed to data security and privacy through ISO and GDPR compliance
  • The company’s success hingers partly on staying at the forefront of technological advancements. Its leadership in AI and RPA and in disrupting traditional loyalty and rewards management reflects its commitment to harnessing technology and talented minds to create better customer experiences

 

The list of Perx Technologies’ major achievements over the past few years is admittedly long, but when I ask its founder and CEO, Anna Gong, to name a few, she obliges easily, naming breakthroughs in the company’s processes and even some landmark triumphs in the tech space where her company, a fully integrated customer data and loyalty SaaS platform, enjoys leadership status.

“We empower over 50 million users,” Anna begins, pointing out how this “speaks to the scale and impact the Perx Platform has had, and how it empowers users as it facilitates engagement in a digital age”.

Perx has surpassed 5 billion API calls to date, a technical milestone that is a testament to the widespread adoption of and trust in the company’s technology, Anna elaborates. It impacts a range of major industries including financial services, telecommunications, and retail/commerce, and enhances customer experiences globally.

In September last year, amidst global economic challenges, Perx achieved profitability in what Anna calls “a demonstration of the company’s resilience and effective leadership”.

Navigating the tech winter and turning profitable is a big milestone, she underscores, reminding me of the dramatic backdrop against which this achievement played out: the rough years through the pandemic followed by the 2023 tech winter that hit companies of all sizes, even sending some of them to an early grave.

They nearly ran out of money, Anna confesses, then suddenly turned a profitable corner in September. “Resilience,” she emphasises, pride and surprise lifting her voice, “and agility during challenging times have made it possible.”

For all these, Anna was recognised by the prestigious Thinkers360 as one of the Top 50 Global Thought Leadership in AI and RPA in 2023.

“We empower over 50 million users; this speaks to the scale and impact the Perx Platform has, and how it empowers users and facilitates engagement in a digital age”.

The Story Thus Far

One thing that people notice within a few minutes of talking to Anna is the clarity and ease with which she discusses complex technical ideas. For instance, she can make it easy for anyone to grasp what her company does without skipping the jargons or dumbing down the exchange.

She speaks with mathematical clarity, constructing sentences that resemble equations. When I pressed her for reasons behind her company’s success, she cites her visionary leadership, her role as a leader with a clear vision for the future of technology and customer engagement, and her personal commitment to innovation and excellence that has been its guiding force. “Yes, we are successful,” she seems to say, “and it’s all because of these”.

Anna spent her early childhood in Guangzhou in southern China where she was born. When she turned eight, she and her family migrated to the US where she was raised, obtained her education (a UCLA alum with a BA in Economics) and started her career (counting over two decades in tech-focused global business development). She remembers Guangzhou and speaks ‘Chinglish’ at home to her parents, but she is, by temperament and attitude, a global citizen at ease wherever she lands.

This without doubt plays a role in her strategic partnership and expansion strategies. “Expanding to over 15 markets worked well with the help of key partnerships, and these partners combined with our own go-to-market efforts have been instrumental in achieving global market reach,” she elaborates.

“The blend of different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that we have at Perx has fostered innovation and effective problem-solving”

Diversity & Equality

As a solo female founder, Anna stands tall in the male-dominated tech industry and in a challenging geographic region. She leverages on this by championing diversity and female leadership at Perx: her team comprises 20 nationalities and half her leadership team is female. She places importance on diversity and equality at Perx – “The blend of different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills has fostered innovation and effective problem-solving” – and hopes that the position of the company at the forefront of technological innovation will inspire other women in tech.

She also acknowledges the value of getting the timing right in order to go far – alongside what she describes as her relentless resilience to stay in the game and stay true to her vision, and the core team’s focus and ability to turn the vision into reality.

“We had the foresight in recognising the potential of the B2B SaaS space in Asia at a time when the focus was predominantly on B2C ventures. This strategic yet challenging choice positioned Perx to capitalise on a niche that was less crowded and ripe for innovation.”

They were one of the few pioneering enterprise SaaS companies in Singapore around 2016, she recalls, at a time when every investor and tech enthusiasts were focusing on B2C companies or companies who were riding the B2C wave.

“One of the pivotal milestones in Perx’s journey was our strategic shift from a B2C model that was struggling to make dent beyond the Singapore market to a global B2B enterprise software business,” she says candidly. “This transformation was not just a change in our business model, but a complete redevelopment of our technology, market focus, redesigning and hiring a new talent pool, and company vision.

“Navigating this pivot required a deep understanding of enterprise needs, adaptability, and a commitment to innovation. This transition has not only diversified our client base but has also established Perx as a key player in the enterprise SaaS space, reflecting our ability to evolve and thrive in a dynamic market environment.”

It was a lonely endeavour, Anna admits – swimming against the current and thus taking longer than usual to grow: “We had difficulty convincing investors to put more money in, to take a bigger chance on us.” Investments were flowing into super apps, ecommerce, logistics, fintechs and marketplaces. “Timing,” she concludes, “is everything.”

“Our team’s humility and growth mindset got us to stay the course. We learn from our mistakes.”

Resilience and Grit

In the last seven years since they pivoted to B2B SaaS, Perx experienced three ‘valleys of death situations’ – but those didn’t stop the team from bouncing back and staying focused on the ‘north star’, Anna reveals. “Our will to survive was greater than the lure of walking away. Our journey was not just a struggle but a testament to our belief in the vision of Perx and how we will continue to impact customer experiences across markets.”

Today, she looks at the challenges they faced as crucial learning and strengthening experiences that reinforce the company’s resolve and adaptability. “Our team’s humility and growth mindset got us to stay the course. We learn from our mistakes,” she continues, enumerating a number of failures “from hiring, firing, financial control, running out of money, lack of transparency and poor communication”.

But each time, they got back up and learned to do it again and better. “Doing it better made the difference to our ability to rebound from the ‘valleys of deaths’. The company culture, underpinned by a growth mindset and agility, enabled our team to navigate through tough times and emerge stronger.”

“Technology is just the enabler and technology alone will not differentiate any company.”

But How Is It Different

Perx is committed to “Enabling businesses to build a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with their customers” – their website statement that is as true as much as it is common.

I challenge Anna to tell me how they do it differently from the others.

“I say this all the time,” she says. “Technology is just the enabler and technology alone will not differentiate any company. Anyone can build all sorts of technical capabilities. Anything is possible.

“However, what differentiates companies time and time again is not only their ability to innovate and stay ahead of the curve, but to pivot frequently in go-to-market strategies and business models, to stay agile, to have a growth mindset and to acknowledge mistakes, to learn from them and do it better next time. It goes back to company culture and values underpinning people, process and technology.”

She then spells out a random word to me: C-A-P-E, an acronym that she says encapsulates their core values: Customer Obsession, Accountability, Passion and Purpose, and Excellence.

“Each one is followed by processes, measurable objectives, and the talents to execute on those objectives. If we have the right talent, business models, and processes, we keep on going back to culture and values when we fall short of our objectives.”

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