Meet Our Founder
Meet Philippe, our Founder.
Born and raised in a hub of SA’s motor vehicle industry, Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), Phil effortlessly embodies the principles that Checkmate is built on. His background in Continuous Improvement (CI) is reflected in the way that Checkmate innovates, and strives to improve the way in which our clients operate. Before starting Checkmate, Philippe spent many years in the industry, predominantly in CI roles. It was here that he gained valuable insight into manufacturing plants, their operations and associated woes. This has allowed Checkmate to offer our clients a unique level of understanding and, in turn, simplified solutions catering specifically to the South African automotive/ manufacturing industry.
In the beginning:
“You could say we had to prove ourselves to the old regime who couldn’t fathom that a software solution could incorporate all the intracacies and nuances of the comples SA labour law field.”Philippe Lapere
Not many people realise that Checkmate was initially founded as a Labour Law-technological solutions provider, at the advent of Checkmate’s Employee Relations (ER) App in October 2017. The app is an artificial intelligence tool that uses a simple questionnaire-style interface to determine complex labour law issues, and to provide you with guidance on the correct steps to follow including documentation and paperless signature, according to SA labour law best practices. Phil explains that the idea was sparked by Syrene’s (Phil’s wife and an established South African labour lawyer) regular story-telling of companies making the same procedural or substantive mistakes. It was then that the pair realised that a technological solution could make a massive difference to smaller companies, lacking in-house expertise, as well as larger organisations with many employees, where consistent treatment of discipline- and capacity-related issues is sometimes difficult to monitor. Checkmate’s ER App is the first of its kind so, as with many new disruptive technologies, the app was initially met with some trepidation. Time and time again, humanity has proven its fear of new technologies – remember the rumours that microwaves make food radioactive? Or that TV makes children dumb? People are afraid of new technologies; in Phil’s words “You could say we had to prove ourselves to the old regime who couldn’t fathom that a software solution could incorporate all the intricacies and nuances of the complex SA labour law field”.
Luckily though, after a few demonstrations, animated explainer videos and web copywriting, today the app continues to enable our clients to ensure that all their staff are treated fairly, equally and in accordance with CCMA-approved labour law best practices.
By 2019, most of Checkmate’s ER App-clients were 1st tier suppliers to the automotive industry. Phil discovered that our clients in the industry were still facing a lot of the same set-backs he found while working as a CI Engineer in years prior. These included tedious reporting activities, data integrity issues, and a lack of error-proofing, which sometimes resulted in poorly-informed strategic decisions being made. In his words, “people didn’t always trust the data systems used to make decisions”. This is why Checkmate’s apps are developed with incredibly intuitive data-capturing interfaces and clear, concise reporting to maximise shop-floor visibility.
As a CI manager, Phil was frequently assigned the, often dispiriting, task of implementation of improvement projects, Phil was no stranger to change-aversion in the workplace. This experience honed the onboarding process we have today, which we pride as fast, agile and attentive, to ensure you can focus on your operations. We’ve developed modular packages allowing set up to take mere minutes per module. The packages can be integrated, but you can pick and choose so you only pay for the features you need.
Phil’s affinity for innovation spans beyond the office and his off-time is spent researching and designing his novel sailing catamaran model, or refining him and Syrene’s homemade peri-peri sauce – Islander – which is (widely revered by Checkmate clients who’ve received a bottle as a “karmenaadjie” and) actually available for purchase. He also makes time for kitesurfing, motocross, and is more than willing to make time for a chat with stakeholders in the automotive/ manufacturing industry, so feel free to drop him a message here!