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November 18, 2016

Human capital firm Fairsail, a UK software success story

2016 is shaping up to be a great year for human capital management software firm Fairsail with awards, investment and growth, CEO Adam Hale on the journey so far

By Sam

Human Capital Management, talent capture or to give it its good old fashioned name ‘Human Resources’ is undergoing a cloud based shake up.

The reason?

There are many of the the usual reasons of ironing out inefficiencies, improving visibility and just as importantly attracting and nurturing talent and improving productivity of the human capital department.

Out in wilds some companies don’t even know how many people they employ, says Adam Hale, Fairsail CEO.

“We give organisations a number of things which are interrelated. We give them fantastic visibility on their people which is something firms often don’t have.  We started working with a financial services firm who told us, ‘We have 500 people.’ Turns out they had 430. Before we started working with them one business services customer with 4,000 people was taking two months to do a headcount report. Now it sits on a dashboard and it is instant.”

The point about this information and its visibility is that it makes a difference to how the business is run, he says.

“This can make a transformational difference. Having timely accurate, actionable information on people in the business is not just telling you who they are but how they are doing, where are they, are they joining?, leaving? How they are performing. That’s critical. It is a big cultural change, because once you have information at your fingertips you’d never run your business again without it. It is a  big change.”

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The customer base for Fairsail tend to be growing SMB firms. The tech sector itself is a key market because they adopt cloud early – Fairsail is built on the Salesforce platform and is a SAAS solution – tech is usually internationally focused and they tend to have high value people.

And they tend to be growing and need to handle that, he says. Now more than half of our customers come from tech. The fact that we’re a tech firm means we naturally understand the sector. We understand how difficult it can be.

But Fairsail is not stuck in one vertical. It has customers such as Mitsubishi, Paddy Power Betfair and Kleinwort.

Mr Hale says being built on the platform helps assure customers in markets such as financial services that their staff data will be secure.

“We’re committed to it. Without it we wouldn’t have had the scale and growth and we probably wouldn’t have the trust of customers. For example with Betfair and now Paddy Power, we have all of their information about people’s performance, pay,  really intimate information. That has be in a completely secure environment and trusted. If we went to a customer and said we have a secure data centre and your data will be there, it is not going to fly. When I say to customers, the data is in Salesforce, you can feel the relief. “


Fairsail operates a straightforward pricing model. Fundamentally it is per person per year.

“It is fair and open. We wanted it to be simple and transparent. We don’t do complicated modular pricing. We don’t like to back and forth saying you need to pay a bit for this and bit for that.  Some of our competitors do that and we don’t like it and our customers don’t like it,” he says.

It operates mainly in the SMB space. Most of tts customers employ in the range of a few hundred to a few thousand people.

Human Capital Management, even cloud based is not an off-the-shelf sell.

On average it takes five months to capture all the data in a customer.

“There is usually a migration requirement. HR systems are different to most cloud systems. We don’t’ do land and expand.  A company needs one HR system. A firm can’t say, ‘I’ll try a few hundred licences and see how it goes,’

That’s not how HR systems work. So we talk to the execs at the top level  because it is a serious commitment they are making in us.”

The average deal length for Fairsail is around three years – Mr Hale says its renewal rates last year were 99%.

As well as winning an award at the Worshipful Company of IT awards for its growth, Fairsail was also mentioned in the Deloitte Fast 50 UK Tech list at number 13 with a two year growth rate of 1277%.


2013: £1m – 19 people

2014 – £2.56m 42 people

2015 £5.6m 65 people

2016 – £10m+ 130 people


This year also saw a hugely significant investment and partnership with UK SME accounting software giant Sage.

“We’ve tried to be as capital efficient as possible so pre-Sage (the deal which saw a £10m investment ) we’d only raised £6.5m,” he says.

fairsail-cmyk_large-2“Up until March this year Fairsail was owned by angels. We realised that now is when we needed institutional growth capital into the business,” he says.

Sage were looking for a partner and came to the conclusion that they should have a world class HR solution.

“They said, we’d like to partner with you. We get a distribution business and we said, “we’ll take your money so you have skin in the game and the roll out within Sage.”

The money is going into expansion, more people, more developers and moves into the US though it currently already operates internationally with customers across Europe and as far as Kenya and Burundi.

“We have the ability to handle complexity,” he says.

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