David Bonifacio of Bridge Southeast Asia
A team's single-minded pursuit to Make Work-Life Better.
By Asha Gutierrez
“The Definition of Passion”
David Bonifacio starts his day very early, between 4:00 AM and 4:30 AM, going through a morning routine that includes exercise, daily devotions, and just a mug of matcha green tea, prepared bulletproof style, for breakfast. By 7:00 AM he is already at the office, standing with the rest of the Bridge team going through their daily huddle. They like starting work earlier compared to their competitors because they want to have a head start. Ask David what time he and his team leave the office and he’ll tell you straight, “We leave when the job is done.”
David expounds, “I get asked a lot about burnout or employees complaining about the pace of our operations. I don’t get a lot of complaints, or at least the team knows how to process their stress. I remind them that the word passion literally means suffering, that when you found something you love so much you should be willing to give a hard time for it. At Bridge, it’s our passion to help improve the work lives of people. That’s why we start early, work long hours, and end late, because we know there’s still so much we can do to improve the way businesses operate, especially with how they handle their HR or People Operations. I want people in Bridge who share the same passion so I don’t have to force them to do anything they don’t already want to do.”
All of this hard work is starting to pay off. Very quietly, Bridge has grown into a team of over 50 people in less than 2 years, consistently growing its revenue and client base in the areas of HR and IT, particularly with their payroll and staffing services. In a few months, David says their company will be cash-flow positive, will open their first regional branch, and launch a new product. To accomplish all these in 18 months is an achievement not many startups ever experience.
But not many startups are willing to start work at 7:00 AM either.
On the surface, Bridge provides a powerful combination of software AND a service, which they believe is the kind of SAAS that will work in Southeast Asia. “We don’t just provide software. We also provide power users, experts who know how to use the software to get results. We have a car and a driver model. We don’t just give clients a car. We drive them to their destination.”
For their payroll offering, PayDay, Bridge has combined the leading payroll technology with a team of certified payroll experts at a price point that is the lowest in the market. If this wasn’t attractive enough to customers, clients enjoy Bridge’s Prove-It-To-Me rate, which keeps the service free until Bridge has “proven” their ability to meet client requirements.
“The Prove-It-To-Me rate came from our desire to bring value to customers. Our customers are our partners. We want them to succeed. We want them to save money. We want them to improve their processes. To prove our commitment to them, we’ve made a conscious decision NOT to charge them until we’ve proven our usefulness.” David explains.
And it’s not as crazy an idea as it seems. Since launching the Prove-It-To-Me rate, Bridge has increased users, decreased their sales cycle, and even decreased the time it takes to onboard a client. “We’re pressured to deliver value, and to deliver value right away since we want to get paid but we committed only to the clients we’re most useful to. This has forced us to improve our operations, to be very diligent with every step of our processes.”
You’re Only As Good Your Team
Despite his achievements and growing start-up, David is quick to deflect the credit towards his team. “You’re only as good as your team. I’m only as good as my team. I thank God every day for our team. From when we started to today, we’ve grown at an incredible rate. When I think about when we turned the corner from a frustrating day-to-day slog to the productivity we’re enjoying now, I trace it to the arrival and growth of key team members. This team has freed me up to do high-value strategic work. We would not be anywhere close to where we are today if it were not for this team. I worry a lot about how our mission to Make Work Life Better will continue beyond me. With this team, I’m glad that our mission isn’t based on one person. Now I’m pushing them to replicate themselves. We have a big mission. We need as many committed people as we can get.”
The Bridge Way
Understanding, Diligence, and Empowerment, these are Bridge’s core values. They define Understanding as a combination of empathy (understanding people) and wisdom (understanding how to respond to life). Diligence for them is passion, (suffering for what we value) and excellence (working hard towards a high standard). Finally, Empowerment means mastery (being ridiculously good at whatever you’re doing) and service (using your skills for the benefit of the team and others). These values and their explanation clearly explains what Bridge stands for. It explains the crazy work hours, the Big Hairy Audacious Goals, and the constant desire for improvement.
Many companies list fancy values statements. With Bridge, you really see it.
You see it with the innovative solutions they offer. You see it in the Prove-It-To-Me rate. You see it in their obsessions with their Client Success. You see it with their growing client base. And you see it in the eyes of every single member of Bridge.
This is a team on a mission. Hungry, focused, diligent, quiet, and competitive, much like the man leading the way.
We asked David what time he goes to bed, he simply answered, “When the job’s done.”
You can check the website of Bridge here.