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Redefining Value: Mark Nutter, Founder And Chairman, Yomly As Emirates HR officially rebrands itself to Yomly, founder and Chairman Mark Nutter is getting set for his UAE-based enterprise to take on global markets.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Mark Nutter, founder and Chairman, Yomly

When British serial entrepreneur Mark Nutter first made his way from the UK to the UAE in 2014, he was already the founder of a human resources (HR) and employee management software firm that had clients in 600 companies across the UK and Europe. But soon after landing in the UAE, Nutter was presented with a compelling choice: either rebuild his platform from scratch to match the shift towards cloud technology adoption at the time, or sell the company to a UK-based enterprise that was listed on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index. Nutter chose the latter, believing it to be the right option from a tech-perspective, while secretly hoping that he could do with some free time on his hands. "But it didn't take me long to start getting bored, which led me to look for a new venture," Nutter says. "The obvious place to start was evaluating the HR space across the GCC. There seemed to be three distinct issues: companies were either using US/European platforms, and trying to work around the missing functionality needed for this region; dated legacy on-premise solutions that had been built for the region, but they had poor user experience; and still using Excel spreadsheets, and managing everything manually." Those observations eventually led to the launch of Emirates HR, a UAE-based HR and payroll platform designed specifically for the UAE and wider GCC region, in 2018.

Built as a cloud-based platform, Emirates HR adopted a subscription-based revenue model to offer services that help GCC-based companies manage employee visas, no objection certificates (NOCs), document management, lunar calendar leave, as well as integration with wage protection systems. "Our target market is companies with 250+ employees, to companies with 50,000+ employees," Nutter explains. "If you employ people across the GCC/MENA region, run multiple payrolls in and want an HR platform to engage with your employees, then our platform is for you!"

Five years on, Emirates HR is flying high as a business- but it has also undergone a change in its identity. In October 2023, Emirates HR was officially rebranded as Yomly, and it is easy enough to understand why. After all, at the start of this article, if you took a moment to wonder if the company you were reading about had anything to do with a UAE-based airline, then you're not alone. As it turns out, it was precisely this confusion that initially laid the groundwork for the name change. "When we first launched, we wanted a name that clearly showed we were an HR platform for this region, and the name Emirates HR has served us incredibly well," Nutter says. "But the first time the name became an issue was after signing a global airline as a client. This airline didn't want their employees using a platform that said 'Emirates' for obvious reasons, so very early on, we allowed our clients to rename the platform. As we started winning companies outside the UAE, the name was often queried as well. Initially, we promoted across the GCC with domains such as Bahrain HR, Kuwait HR, etc. but this strategy didn't demonstrate that we were a platform catering to the entire region. So, back in 2020, we started the search for a new name."

The Yomly team. Source: Yomly

It was then around this time that Yomly became a fierce contender in the race for a brand new name for the company. "Being a tech company, we wanted a short name, which was available as a .com domain, and, if possible, could reflect our roots as a UAE startup," Nutter says. "What attracted us to Yomly was that يوم (pronounced "yom") is the Arabic word for day, which is a large part of what we try to focus on: helping you and your employees manage their day. So, in 2021, we launched Yomly in all the countries outside the UAE, and retained the use of Emirates HR locally. The new name has been well received, and so, we decided at the beginning of 2023 to complete the full transition, and become Yomly."

Related: Beyond Boundaries: Ethiopia-Headquartered Gebeya Is Making Its Way To Dubai With A Renewed Sense Of Purpose

And with this new name has come new and renewed goals for the startup- and these fall in the realm of international expansion. "Yomly's HR platform can be used in any country in the world, and we currently have users in 80+ countries," Nutter explains. "For payroll, we operate in nearly all the MENA countries, and we are adding new countries monthly. We have seen tremendous growth in the last year, which has boosted our expansion to the global market, catering to companies on an international scale. Additionally, as part of the rebrand, we are also moving into a 17,500 sq. ft. office across two floors within Business Central Towers in Dubai. This is a big commitment for the business, and it should allow us to eventually accommodate over 350 employees."

Here, Nutter says that scaling internationally had always been on the cards for the company. "The plan was always to be able to offer the platform globally, but with a focus on providing functionality for the UAE first," he says. "We don't envisage competing in the US or Europe, but what we want is to be able to offer our clients in the GCC/ MENA region a platform that can work across the world to accommodate all their employees. When building the platform, our aspirations were always to have a global reach, and, as such, the HR and payroll engines were built using tools that allow us to onboard new regions and countries quickly and easily, without the need to re-code/ develop."

According to Nutter, Yomly's ability to assimilate any given country's HR and payroll models onto its platform with zero coding efforts is one of the startup's strongest differentiating factors. "Another key area that sets us apart from local and global competitors is that we have been built from the ground up, based on security and performance," Nutter says. "Whilst most local competitors focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a multi-tenanted architecture, we segregate every client's database to ensure the integrity of our client's data. From the start, we have been certified as ISO 27001 (a global information security management standard), and we follow strict protocols. And for large multi-country clients, our biggest differentiating factor is cost and speed of implementation. We can save clients a significant amount against global database management platforms such as SAP and Oracle, whilst also significantly reducing the time it takes to onboard, especially when it comes to bespoke rules and configuration."

Mark Nutter, founder and Chairman, Yomly. Source: Yomly

But at the crux of all these efforts, of course, is Yomly's underlying vision to simply negate the mundane and administrative aspects of HR- something Nutter and his team remain committed to achieving as Yomly's presence grows around the globe. "One of the areas we are focused on is creating intelligence around workflows, and looking, where possible, to reduce unnecessary management and admin time," Nutter explains. "A simple example is the auto-generation of requested letters, where an employee makes a request through the mobile app. The Yomly platform will then decide if it can be generated without the need for human approval based on predefined criteria. This can also work for holiday/ sickness/expense approvals - for example, if I book one day off with enough notice, have the entitlement, and none of my colleagues are off on the same day, the platform can approve and notify the relevant people, rather than delays being caused by waiting for approvals."

Yomly's dedication towards digitizing HR operations earned it the Best HR Solution Of The Year award at Entrepreneur Middle East's Tech Innovation Awards for two consecutive years in 2022 and 2023. "We also achieved a huge milestone at the beginning of this year, having successfully implemented HR and payroll services to a global entity managing 6,000 employees across 12 countries in the MENA region, allowing them to move away from a very expensive Oracle platform," Nutter adds. "Following this milestone, we are now implementing the payroll platform for a prestigious school group across 16 countries throughout the MENA region. This group is set to be our largest client to date."

For all of the achievements Yomly can boast of today, Nutter directs his gratitude, first and foremost, towards his startup's clients. "Winning clients who love the platform has always been the easy part; the challenge has always been delivery at an enterprise level," he says. "We have been very fortunate to have patient clients, who believe in the vision of the business, and understand that we are developing the platform as fast as we can, whilst trying to keep disruption to existing clients at a minimum. With that, our goal for Yomly over the next 6-12 months is to establish ourselves as the premier HR and payroll platform for SMEs and enterprise clients across the MENA region. Our aim is to help clients move away from expensive legacy systems, and benefit from the latest technology, improving the way they engage with their employees. And we're confident we can make that happen!"

Related: Making A Splash: Nicolas Soucaille, General Manager - UAE, Blacklane

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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