• LaunchedNovember 2020
    FoundersAbhinav Karale and Vidush Mahansaria
    Co-InvestorsAlpha JWC Ventures, FEBE Ventures, Go-Ventures, RTP Global, and Taurus Ventures

Vara is an easy-to-use and lightweight staff management platform for SMEs across Southeast Asia. It enables small companies to effortlessly manage their attendance and payroll.

Their debut product, Bukugaji, is targeted at the Indonesian market and is the first step in achieving the company’s vision: to create an operating system for frictionless staff management.

Small businesses form the backbone of any emerging economy. In Indonesia, at least 95% of the labour force work for small companies which, in turn, typically employ no more than 30 employees. These companies contribute up to 70% of the country’s GDP.

The vast majority of these businesses manage their human capital manually, from tracking attendance to calculating salary for shift and part-time workers and more – making it difficult to maintain accurate employee data and streamline payroll. For employers, this can be time consuming, prone to human error, and repetitive. These issues also affect employees, who may not have access to formal employment history or documents, and lack economic mobility. For the most part, they struggle to access formal financial infrastructure like banking systems, credit platforms, or standard employment benefits.

Subsequently, while living predominantly between paychecks, employees have no option but to turn to their companies to help alleviate their financial burdens, requesting salary advances or long-term loans to make ends meet. This equation has two outcomes: it increases economic dependency from the employee to the employer and it also locks up working capital for SMEs. On both sides, this inevitably becomes a tough cycle that is almost impossible to escape.

Vara believes that empowering human capital through technology will drive the highest returns. Employers should be able to effectively manage their employees and easily access employment data. In turn, employees should have clear visibility into their current employment as well as their employment history.

The intuitive interface and simplicity of Bukugaji has already seen over 100,000 SMEs sign up to the platform. Companies can now add all staff and manage their attendance, payslips, reports, loans, salary and more.

In the near future, Vara plans to empower small companies across Southeast Asia with everything they may need to service their workforces.

Vara was founded by Abhinav Karale and Vidush Mahansaria in November 2020. The founders met at Wharton, where they both attended university. Abhinav holds undergraduate degrees in economics and computer science and a master’s degree in data science from Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to founding Vara, Abhinav built investment and trading strategies for hedge funds and AI tools for governmental and healthcare stakeholders. Vidush holds degrees in economics and international studies from Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania. He grew up in Bangkok and has worked across product, fundraising, and operating functions at Grab before joining ICONIQ Growth, a large tech investment fund in San Francisco, to help their Asia and Europe investment efforts.