There have been several startup attempts to measure staff morale, some more halting than others. We reported on Plasticity Labs back in 2014, though their web site seems no longer functioning.
Officevibe appeared around the same kind’ve era. More recently out of the U.K., WorkBuzz has raised £2.3 million. And Spill ($3.5 million) is a startup that offers a message-based therapy app to help improve workplace well-being.
But now a Bristol-based U.K. startup hopes to make waves in the “workplace measurement” space, and it plans to use the rocket fuel of generative AI.
Employing a combination of OpenAI’s ChaptGPT, combined with its own proprietary coaching platform for staff well-being, Loopin hopes to break out from the rest of the field.
Now, it might be easy at this point to shrug at yet another startup pulling an OpenAI API. But this is not your average startup.
The two founders are battle-hardened: former Royal Marine Commandos Ben Williams and Antony Thompson. After leaving the armed forces, Ben went into coaching leadership teams at corporates, including the England Football Team and Manchester United. He also wrote the 2020 book “Commando Mindset,” published by Penguin.
These two highly trained, former special forces soldiers have now poured all their knowledge — as well as academic research papers and other data — into training data for their platform on how to build teams. And that’s the difference.
On the surface of Loopin is the daily “check-in” via Slack or Microsoft Teams. Employees share small updates on their mood, using emojis, which are anonymized for privacy.
Trained on Ben’s coaching methodology and based on each team’s data, Loopin’s “virtual coach” then provides managers tips on how to better support their team and unlock better performance.
Team managers can also share their status with higher-up managers, in order to get help on how to boost team moral, as you can see from the below video:
Loopin says its platform uses NLP, as well as employing Chat GPT (currently in Beta), to assess the team’s mood, and generate predictive behavioral analytics, measuring and forecasting team morale.
Ultimately, Loopin sees itself as becoming almost like a marketplace for morale and performance coaching inside businesses.
Loopin has now raised a £1.6 million ($1.9 million) seed funding round from angel investors. The company says it already has 40 paying customers, including Reed, Farfetch and JD Sports.
Stuart Neal, former general manager of Boku Identity (acquired 2022, Twilio) and chairman of Loopin, says there’s a post-pandemic need to rack staff morale: “At any one time, a staggering 45% of employees are actively thinking of leaving their job. The average cost of replacing an employee is £30,000 so the price businesses are paying for low morale is huge.”
There is of course, competition in the market. Steven Frost, CEO of WorkBuzz, which has raised £2.6 million is also in the “employee listening” space, focusing on mid-market organizations with 500-5,000 employees. He told me clients include brands like Five Guys, Premier Foods, The Priory Group and public sector organizations like HS2. Their funding round was led by Mercia and Foresight Group. He told me: “Our AI guides them where to focus on improving and we can evidence the ROI. Employee listening is now a must-have given talent shortages, changing employee expectations, and hybrid working.”
However, Loopin’s Williams told me during an interview: “Our competitors measure data and then present it back to the company often through metrics, dashboards and lots of graphs and different things like that. And that’s not a bad thing. But is that actionable? No. Is it useful and valuable in the moment? It’s okay to look at it and it’s helpful, but it doesn’t help the people that really need it, which is the employees and the managers. So, essentially, we’re acquiring that data, adding our own proprietary data and then we’re applying it to open source AI models to be able to provide personalized coaching and leadership development advice back to the employees in real time. And that’s why we believe we’re different.”
He added that Loopin will eventually take anonymized data from companies to allow them to benchmark themselves against other, similar, external organizations: “One thing we’re eventually bringing into the product is benchmarking. Where does your company sit against other companies and engagement and morale and how do you see where you sit?”
Simon Wingate, managing drirector at Reed (3,500+ employees), a Loopin customer, said in a statement: “What we lacked was a real-time measure of our teams’ mood and motivations. We use Loopin as a way of really understanding how our teams are feeling and to ensure we are driving a better quality of connection between managers and their direct reports.”
It would appear the race is on to employ AI in the workplace in order to supercharge teams, but this time powered by LLMs.