Perkbox, an employee engagement platform, picks up £2.5M backing from Draper Esprit

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Perkbox, a U.K. startup that offers an employee engagement platform to help companies retain employees (and customers), has picked up £2.5 million in backing from publicly listed European VC Draper Esprit. The new round — its first since it raised a very modest £350,000 five years ago and before several pivots — comes at the same time as the company’s equity crowdfunding campaign, which launched this week.

That is seeing Perkbox attempt to raise up to an additional £2 million at a rather hefty pre-money valuation of £75.4 million, and, I’m told, makes it the highest valued startup to attempt to crowdfund on Seedrs. Nice armchair investing, if you can attract it.

(Update: Seedrs tells me the equity crowd funding campaign is on the same terms as Draper Esprit’s investment in Perkbox.)

Originally launched as Huddlebuy, a group-buying platform for SMEs, all the way back in 2011, the since re-branded Perkbox eventually settled on the idea of developing a “digital engagement platform” to enable companies of all sizes (including startups) to look after their staff and customers via various perks and benefits.

“In the U.K., just 39 per cent of employees are engaged and only 28 per cent of consumers are loyal to their providers. Our digital platform helps brands connect and engage with their employees and customers through boosting financial, emotional and physical wellbeing,” says Perkbox co-founder and CEO Saurav Chopra.

On the “financial” side, this currently amounts to Perkbox being able to offer employees subscribed to its platform over 200 perks, including things like free phone insurance, cinema tickets, and 2 for 1 meal deals when eating out. “We are one of the biggest buyers of cinema tickets,” Chopra tells me, noting that working capital, along with investing in growth, is one of the reasons why Perkbox has chosen to raise funding at this time.

Then there’s “emotional” wellbeing. This has seen Perkbox build out an online rewards & recognition system, which encourages managers to reward employees with physical rewards, and enables teammates and peers to recognise each other’s work by exchanging digital badges. These include being labeled “King of the Kettle”, “Office DJ” and “Sales Superstar”. Yes, really.

Finally, there’s the “physical,” delivered via Perkbox’s Wellness Hub, which Chopra describes as a collection of professionally made cooking and exercise videos, and a free 24/7 employee assistance helpline “to boost wellbeing and reduce sick days”.

“We also have ‘Perkbox for customers’ — an advanced customer loyalty programme that helps businesses to acquire, engage and retain a loyal customer base. Our programmes can be white labelled, extending customer branding across the whole customer experience,” he adds.

So how well is Perkbox doing? The platform boasts over 300,000 paying members, and expects to hit one million by the end of the year. I’m told this translates into £10 million £4.3 million in revenue last year and is predicted to reach £15 million in revenue for this year. Chopra also says he’s confident of delivering over £25 million in revenue the following year. The startup’s team has now grown to over 105 people.

“Customers can include SMEs with 5 employees to some of the U.K.’s largest brands and fastest growing startups,” adds Chopra. “Deliveroo, Worldpay, Le Pain Quotidian, Holland & Barrett, BlaBlaCar, these are just a few of our well-known customers”.