February 28, 2019
Daniel Choi – From Running Remote Teams into Outsourcing
February 28, 2019
Today we have Daniel Choi, the VP of client services from Intelegencia with us. Intelegencia spans the US, Philippines and India. It is an outsourcing supplier that also does higher-end data management and technical services.
We’re here to find out more about Intelegencia and Daniel Choi’s story specifically his journey into outsourcing.
Derek Gallimore: Welcome to the Outsource Accelerator podcast. This is a short format podcast where we explore business and outsourcing mastery. My name is Derek Gallimore and I am really excited to bring you the leading podcast in outsourcing.
Derek Gallimore: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 214. So today we have Daniel Choi, the VP of client services from Intelegencia with us. Intelegencia spans the US, Philippines and India. Is an outsourcing supplier but also does, higher end data management, data mining and technical services. So really interesting conversation with Daniel and we talk about how he got started and outsourcing and his personal journey. So I enjoyed this conversation. If you want any of the show notes, then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/214. Enjoy.
Derek Gallimore: Hi and welcome back everybody. Today we have Daniel Choi of Intelegencia. He is the VP of client services and we’re here to find out more about Intelegencia and Daniel Choi’s story specifically into outsourcing. Hi Daniel, how are you?
Daniel Choi: Hi Derek. Nice to talk to you again.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah, absolutely. And as always, you’re probably a little bit better at introducing yourself than I am since you know yourself a little bit better. But, can you first just introduce yourself and let the audience know how you became involved in outsourcing of all things?
Daniel Choi: Sure so again, my name is Daniel Choi. I am a VP of client services at Intelegencia. Intelegencia is a BPO with tech solutions, so we’re an all around outsourcing company that handles a lot of our client operations. As for me, I actually got into a BPO space with my business partner and my friend Carlo. We started our own ecommerce store in the US, we were selling auto parts and our auto parts are very complicated industry with lots of cars and all of those cars have lots of parts that are going into it. So there was no way that two of us could handle the amount of workload with data entry, managing Ebay and Amazon platform, our own website. And so we, it was, it naturally made sense as a startup to look for something more economical. And through my business partner’s connections in the Philippines, we actually started a second company called second office, about, in 2011.
Daniel Choi: And that kind of a sprite spiraled us into the outsourcing industry. And, as much as we enjoy our own efficiencies and productivity is with, using outsourcing, we use that second company, second office to offer our services to other people as well. And so, we mainly focused on ecommerce clients who are interested into making some economical decisions in scaling their business. And so ever since 2011 and we’ve been growing in US, UK and Australia and we have about 60 clients worldwide. And, actually because we were growing at such a fast pace, we came to a realization that, you know, our service offerings were very limited to, you know, back office support with customer service. And there were no technology piece at all. And, at that point of time, when we were looking for some partnership, Intelegencia came along and they acquired us last year. And so last year, we were able to go from a simple backhaul business process outsourcing company to a business outsourcing company with technology offerings that are doing data analysis, big data, cloud management programming. And so we’re actually in the works with working with our existing clients to customize and automate some of the businesses processes that they’re doing.
Derek Gallimore: okay, fantastic. So you’re really going up the value chain and it’s such a common story isn’t it? That a lot of people start outsourcing, because they’re scratching their own itch, they have their own business requirements and then they set up facilities and start offering those facilities to, to other clients then. So take me back, like a little way. And when you started in 2011, what was your impression about outsourcing back then? You guys, both of you, Carlo and yourself, you were based in the US and you were largely in the whole Amazon online retailing thing. Was it specifically just for the U S or was it a worldwide market?
Daniel Choi: Oh, for us it was just the US market. I mean, auto parts by itself is a, in the US itself is so big and so complicated that, you know, just two of us, we were focusing on the US at the point. Okay.
Derek Gallimore: And then so someone told you to go to the Philippines, like you were completely US based business. and did you think that was a freaky notion? Like what, what were your impressions since you started your outsourcing journey?
Daniel Choi: Yeah, well it was completely new to me at least. and I’ll outsourcing was something that I read in the magazines and something that I was thinking about and I think we absolutely would have had no chance of succeeding in outsourcing but by myself, but because Carlo was a, actually he’s Filipino by ethnicity, and because of his connections in Philippines, we were able to have a stable operation set up. And so without Carlos connections into the Philippines, it would have been, we, I don’t think we would have done outsourcing at all. It was the legal structure, the way the business is set up and run is different than than here, in the US and in the den in the Philippines and the labor laws are different and you know, looking back six years, yeah, just does, does just holidays by itself is a whole another, another area, the labor system is different. So looking back I think because I had a good business partner, we were venturing into a very good industry, that is outsourcing.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. But were you back then aware of, because I imagined, you know, and coming from the Amazon sellers and stuff like this, like in terms of an industry, you’re actually quite advanced in terms of remote working, in terms of using VA’s, you know, a lot of Amazon sellers come from the school of Tim Ferriss high. You know, I assume you read the book and were inspired by the VA’s. Did you, before you tried outsourcing in inverted commerce, did you try the whole Upwork, Odesk, Freelancer VA kind of a scene or did you sort of a leapfrog and go into more formalized outsourcing environment?
Daniel Choi: We actually, we knew about Upwork, and you know, Odesk at the time and actually we did think about using them, but, actually because Carlo had some connections in the Philippines, we just skipped all of that and went right into it. And, we were pretty sure we could, you know, bring business to the Philippines because of such a big gap, in, you know, I don’t want to say,
Daniel Choi: it’s just a difference in I guess, GDP that, you know, just different economical situation. It just makes it easy for an offshoring at that time was, was the hot topic and I did read four hour work week by Tim Ferris. so I think those were all inspirations that were behind getting into outsourcing. Yeah. But yeah, we just jumped right into it, head on.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. And did you, were you aware of other outsourcing suppliers BPO’s with, was that a sort of thing then sitting in the US as you explored this, that you were aware of they were out there as a service?
Daniel Choi: I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?
Derek Gallimore: Were you, were you aware that there were other BPOs in the Philippines, you know, the, that it was a set of professionalised service or did you just think that it was really virtual assistance and home based workers?
Daniel Choi: That’s a really good question. Yeah,
Daniel Choi: We actually didn’t look into other bpos. and you know, going into it, I think, we didn’t really understand what market we were getting into and the potential that it has. Yeah, so I, we learned a lot once we got into the game but, I think that difference was so big that, you know, we did, it did, it just made sense for us to jump in.
Derek Gallimore: Sure.
Daniel Choi: At that time.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. And then what can you say about some of the learning curves of running remote teams? Did you, did you, were you starting to spend more time in the Philippines to build the team or were you largely building the operations remotely?
Daniel Choi: Yeah. so for us, we did spend quite a bit of time. There was a bit of a, a learning curve involved and I think especially at that’s because, Carlo and I, we were at such a young age when we started second office, we were only like 26 or something. And so, you know, I think we knew how to work, but in a sense we didn’t know how to work with others in a sense of managing them. On top of that, there were some cultural differences too, to get adjusted. So actually when we started the company, I was in the Philippines for like a month to set up and Carlo was in the Philippines, in and out, and then eventually he moved out to the Philippines to concentrate on the business. So yeah, we, we actually spend extensive amount of time.
Daniel Choi: Right, right. And because it’s interesting isn’t, and you were probably going through this process of it. It’s not only outsourcing that you were learning, but it’s the essence of managing people, and creating processes, mapping processes and kind of then implementing them. Yeah. It’s quite a learning curve, that whole process isn’t it?
Daniel Choi: Yeah, right. It’s you know, and I think the difficulty with BPOs is you need to care to each client and customized. And even if, you know, even if our clients would sell the same product the way they do things are different. So every time it’s an iteration of learning what they are, how they’re doing it, and you know, transferring that into the Philippines and making sure this is adapted successfully. It’s not easy, but it’s actually, there’s a lot of joy in making it successful.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah, absolutely. So then when you do have the clients, when you brought extra on board, did you generally find that they were clients that previously didn’t have staff and then they were expanding, you know, their staff and capabilities or they already had staff and they were kind of replacing, and augmenting with outsourcing?
Daniel Choi: It depends really. So, I mean we have clients who are, you know, who started their own business like us and then they were scaling. So they were, they would hire someone from the first time and they would outsource right away. We also had clients who have a sizable operation already. They have some history of doing business and because they found out about outsourcing, they passed on the outsourcing model and partner with us to make that work and it’s really hit or miss for the clients. But the key thing that made everyone successful was that, you know, they think of the team in the Philippines as the extension of their company, as, as a new department that they’re setting up rather than someone that’s just doing mundane tasks or tedious tasks that they don’t want to do. So, it, no matter what background or what business size revenue that they come from, it only make sense or it was successful for them if they wanted to, if when they invested into the team, invested, not only their time but their energy. Also, you know, you know, sending up incentives and giving the employees motivation, those kind of things really made them successful.
Derek Gallimore: For Sure. And I was actually in New York a couple of weeks ago, we were talking, doing a lot of talks to people about outsourcing and we were a part of, the biggest Amazon meetup group actually, and in New York City. and I spoke there to about 150 people. You know, they, it’s difficult to, to, well I suppose a couple of questions that are commonly got asked was, what, what can you outsource? So, you know, what are some of the roles that, that you would typically outsource for these online Amazon kind of roles?
Daniel Choi: Easiest place to outsource is really the easy stuff. And those are very broad terms, but the things that you do, from day to day. I think, I think for as an practical example, like when I was on Ebay, we would use flat files to upload and download from Ebay and so I will download a flat file, make modifications, put it back on, upload it back in Ebay. And I will do that, you know, sometimes once a day or multiple times a day. and those kind of things were easy to outsource and that’s kind of this place that we started but other, other things, because now we’re a professional organization. What we can offer to our clients is customer service so not only data entry, there is customer service. And because of our merger with Intelegencia, we also do programming. And by programming, I mean we can customize your ecommerce where we download using API. So instead of, you know, having someone downloaded manually making changes, we can have the machine download and automate that process. So it’s more, fluid and it’s more accurate. So in essence, you can outsource anything, especially with the Internet connection being faster and faster every year. I, I feel confident that, you know, eventually we’ll be in a place where remote working is the norm.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah, absolutely. You know, and I project that there’s been another 30 million jobs to be outsourced because of that. It, you know, with the software that we have, with the interfaces, it’s just been going to become so normal now, isn’t it? okay. Thank you so much. And I want to get you back so we can deep dive into Inteligencia and what it does exactly. And you know, it’s ideal offerings. but in the meantime, if anyone wants to reach out to you or learn more, how can they do that?
Daniel Choi: They can email me, they can call me or they can visit our website. There’s a contact form that they can fill out and eventually I will contact them. But the best way is to use those three, three means.
Derek Gallimore: Okay. what’s your email address?
Daniel Choi: my email address is email@example.com.
Derek Gallimore: and the website is
Daniel Choi: website is Intelegencia.com.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. Okay. Thanks so much Daniel.
Daniel Choi: Yeah, no problem, thank you.
Derek Gallimore: Okay. That was Daniel Choi of Intelegencia. If you want to get in touch with Daniel, go to our show notes and all of that information is there. That is at outsourceaccelerator.com/214. And as always, if you want to ask us anything and drop some email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.