As more employees work remotely, their bosses are finding it difficult to recognize and reward them now that large-group get-togethers and lunches are still widely prohibited.
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Enter Blueboard, a San Francisco-based rewards and recognition platform that is providing curated experiences that employers can bestow on their employees and top performers. Those perks can include things like skydiving, virtual cooking classes, and family days at the zoo, with Blueboard’s concierge service handling all of the logistics.
The company closed on a $9.3 million Series A round led by Origin Ventures, with participation from Greycroft, Bullpen Capital, Plug and Play, Gaingels and Martin Babinec. The new funding gives Blueboard a total of $15.8 million in venture-based funding since being founded in 2014. This includes a $4.5 million seed round in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.
“Employee engagement and HR practices are critical drivers for company growth, particularly in the distributed world we live in today,” said Mark Terbeek, partner at Greycroft, in a written statement. “We’re excited for Blueboard to lead this fast-growing market with a unique approach to employee recognition and company culture.”
In the Crunchbase database we found 70 companies focused on employee engagement that raised approximately $1.3 billion in funding in the last five years. However, you have to take into account that Zenefits raised $583 million of that total, according to the database.
Taylor Smith and Kevin Yip developed the idea for Blueboard after both experienced recognition programs at previous jobs that were unremarkable, impersonal and didn’t incentivize.
“The recognition was well-intentioned, but it didn’t feel that way when I felt burnt out,” Smith, co-founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News. “No manager has time to do something thoughtful for each employee, so there is still a gap of what is expected.”
The status quo was a gift card or cash bonus, which is not appropriate anymore for the modern organization, Yip said. Instead, employees are looking for incentives that enable them to get back quality time–with their families, with interests and hobbies, as well as an activity they didn’t have to do right away.
Smith and Yip plan on using the new funding to expand into new markets, add more local businesses to the mix, and support enterprise clients. They will also invest in the core technology with an aim at doubling Blueboard’s engineering team over the next six months, Smith said.
The company continues to grow. It’s employee base is approximately 90 people, up from fewer than 30 employees two years ago, Yip said in an interview. During that time, Blueboard also rounded out its leadership team.
On the customer side, the company ended last year with $13 million in sales, up from just over $4 million in 2017, he said.
“We’ve seen accelerated growth, and what has been interesting is that when we started in 2014, the employee experience didn’t really exist,” Yip said. “Now, more managers are asking how their teams are feeling, how to get them motivated and create an environment where they understand their employees’ needs.”
Next up, the company plans to expand its reach to sales leaders in addition to its human resource clients, and is developing new incentives, such as a “President’s Club” in which employees can build their own bucket list trip.
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