London-based HR tech startup Ben, which is looking to make waves in the employee benefits (BEN, get it?) industry, has secured $2.5 million in a seed financing round.
A moderate amount this day and age, but the benjamins (get it?) come from an impressive roster of investors that includes Seedcamp, Cherry Ventures, Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas (GoCardless, now Index Ventures), Paul Forster (Indeed.com), Philip Reynolds (Workday) and Matt Robinson (Nested).
Essentially, Ben wants to enable SMEs to personalise benefits and rewards for each employee, with the combination of a SaaS platform and a per-employee Mastercard (and the financial infrastructure that comes with it).
The company claims it can take any existing benefits programme, and instantly adds flexibility so its clients' staff members have the option to choose what matters to them.
Started in late 2019 - not long before a global pandemic caused massive spikes in remote working and, well, the need for a streamlined system for employee benefits - Ben already services over 100 companies, including the likes of Improbable, Lightricks and Impala.
Ben was brought to life by Sebastian Fallert, who previously co-founded Berlin-based JustBook and sold it to Secret Escapes in 2013, and David Duckworth, who previously worked for companies like HBSC, SoundCloud and Mosaic Ventures.
Says Fallert: "The problem with benefits is clear: while they are meant to attract, engage, and ultimately drive productivity, the status quo doesn’t lead to desired outcomes. Our software platform allows companies to load funds and set individual spend rules on how these can be used. Employees are then able to choose from group benefits, such as private medical insurance, mental wellbeing services, or dental plans, while a real per-employee Mastercard opens the door to pretty much any product or service in a tax-efficient and compliant way."
"It’s a win-win: Employees get tailored benefits, and companies only pay for what’s used, take advantage of tax exemptions and preferred pricing, while streamlining the administration," he adds.
Interestingly, the startup also offers “Ben at Home”, a free version of its product that delivers free remote engagement for teams. Employees can attend live virtual activities ranging from meditation to cocktail mixing, and make use of discounts on a variety of wellbeing services.