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The company's platform is used by McDonald’s, Hugo Boss, EA Games and Eventbrite, among others
Anyone who has ever started at a new company, meaning just about all of us, knows all the different emotions that come with it: you're excited to start something new, but also kind of nervous because you don't know anyone, or really what it's going to be like working for this company. For a lot of people, it can be kind of stressful.
Unfortunately, the companies themselves don't often do much to make the process any easier or better for their new employees.. That is the problem being solved by employee onboarding platform Enboarder.
The company, which seeks to make the onboarding process more personalized and frictionless by facilitating better communication between companies and their new hires, revealed on Wednesday that is raised an $8 million Series A round of funding led by previous investor Greycroft, along with new investors Next Coast Ventures and Stage 2 Capital. Enboarder had previously raised a $4 million round, bringing its total funding to $12 million.
"We’re a company that was born out of Australia, and our first institutional investor was Australian, and they were fantastic. What’s been really amazing for us now is this latest round is a syndicate led by three U.S. investors, and, even though we’ve literally just closed the round, the value that they’re starting to add to us as a company, based on the size and scale and number of portfolio companies and experience they’ve got, is amazing," Brent Pearson, founder and CEO of Enboarder told me in a interview.
"We’re really psyched, not just that we closed our Series A round, but by the U.S. syndicate of Greycroft, Next Coast Ventures and Scale 2, that has been put together,"
"Enboarder's experiential onboarding platform fits squarely into one of our core investment themes: the changing future of work. As millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce and teams become more distributed, empowering companies to manage their workforce and gauge their employees' engagement will become one of the largest contributors to growth -- especially as competition for talent continues to heat up," Thomas Ball, co-founder and managing director of Next Coast Ventures, told Vator.
"Enboarder's extensive customization capabilities allows companies to differentiate themselves and double down on their company culture with new hires, while the data generated by the platform enables employers to be far more proactive with their employees and greatly increase employee retention. Brent's decision to choose Austin for their U.S. headquarters aligns firmly with our belief that some of the best companies are being built outside the coasts, and with Brent's 20 plus years of experience building companies in the HR space we couldn't be more thrilled to be part of the next phase of Enboarder's journey."
Making onboarding more personalized
The impetus for starting Enboarder came when Pearson began to notice that every company he was encountering seemed to be struggling with onboarding, and that "the traditional onboarding approach is really broken."
"An offer letter comes, you’re super excited, you sign on the dotted line; at that moment you actually become an employee. That’s the start of the employee experience. Now, most employees, if you think about the mindset of anybody that’s just got a new job, they’re pumped, they’re motivated, they’re excited, and they want to learn as much as they can about the company, they want to hit the ground running," he said.
"What actually happens, in fact, from the moment they sign their offer letter until day one, is often they hear nothing. And, if they do, it tends to be more like, ‘Here’s our policies and procedures and all of our paperwork,’ and it’s a pretty yuck sort of experience. Either it’s very task driven, or they hear nothing."
Then there are cases where people show up for their first day and can't get past security because nobody knows they're coming. And if they do get in, their computer might not be set up and their colleagues don’t know who they are and don’t welcome them, making the experience awkward right from the start.
What Enboarder does is make the process smoother from both ends. That means that, for the new employee, the company begins pushing out communications to them on their mobile phone as soon as they sign the contract. That communication is done in a frictionless way, where the employees don't have to download any apps or log in; instead, Enboarder send out an SMS with a link that they open in their browser, so they can start getting welcome messages from the CEO or from their manager. The new hires also get background information the company, including its values and where it’s going.
On the other side of the equation, Enboader begins coaching the manager, and also some of the new employee's teammates, to help them to prepare to welcome a new team member. The system works almost like an executive assistant, for example sending reminders about when the new employee is starting, and even making it easy for managers to contact them, either by allowing them to call with one tap, or even writing up a text message for them to send to their new employee.
"We’re not just telling you it would be nice to reach out, we’re making it so simple that in one touch you can actually reach out to your new hire, and the new hire will get a note or a call from their manager a few days before they start saying, ‘Do you have any questions? I’m really looking forward to you starting.’ It those little things that really make someone feel welcome, rather than not hearing from the manager and turning up on day one hoping they’re wearing the right clothes and they’re at the right place at the right time," said Pearson.
Enboarder separates itself in the space in a few different ways. First, unlike many other companies in the HR tech world that have onboarding technology, they aren't only looking to make sure that the HR rep's job is easier.
"That’s not what we set out to do with Enboarder; we're focused on the employee experience and we set out to build a platform that ensured that every new employee has an amazing first experience when they join a company," Pearson explained.
Then there are the big companies, like Workday and Oracle, that have onboarding modules but which tend to be very procedural and focused on things like new hire forms and moving data around.
"The way we’re different is, for a start, we were born to be mobile first. So, we work with SMS, we’re designed to look beautiful on a mobile platform. We’re also designed to be quite frictionless, so a new employee doesn’t have to log in, they don’t need an account set up, they just tap a link and they’re into the system," said Pearson.
"Likewise, with managers, a key part of our system is we coach the manager just in time. What I mean by that is, think about managers in organizations, they may not have hired a new employee for six months, or a year, or they may have never hired one before, so they don’t know what to do. Often, they’ve got to start rummaging around to find out what they’re supposed to do, and often they get this godawful thick document which they never use. We’ve designed our system from a management perspective."
Working with some of the world's largest companies
Since launching in 2015, over 200 global companies have used Enboader, including global brands like McDonald’s, Hugo Boss, EA Games and Eventbrite, though the company also works with small and medium sized businesses as well, especially those that are growing quickly.
"If you’re just hiring a few people a year, you probably don’t need our system. But if you’re starting to hire 30, 40, 50 hires in a year, then that’s when our system really starts to add a lot of value," Pearson told me.
The company measures its ROI, first by reducing no-show rates, which often occur in industries where employees can go from one employer to another pretty easy. That can include center operators, truck driver and retail workers. Using Enboarder, those industries have been able to reduce the no-show rate by up to 50 percent. Enboarder also measures staff attrition, meaning that certain industries look a percentage of their new employees after the first year; Pearson says the company can cut those rates in half.
"There’s quite a lot of research that shows that when a new employee joins a company, they make decisions pretty quickly about whether they’ve made a good choice and whether this company’s right for them long term. That first experience that they have in the way they’re onboarded has a significant impact on whether they stay long term," he said.
Those two metrics, along with increases in productivity, are some of the hard numbers that Enboarder is able to measure, along with what Pearson calls "softer metrics," such as employee engagement and satisfaction. Those softer numbers are measured through three surveys, done at different intervals of the employee's time at the company.
"We survey the new hire one week after they’ve started and what we’re trying to measure is how welcome they felt in their first week. We then survey them four weeks after they start and what we’re trying to measure with them is how enabled are they? Do they have the tools and the resources and the training and the direction to actually start to ramp up in their job? And then after three months we measure how connected or attached do they feel to the company."
Building out the company
Right now, Enboarder has 40 employees spread between its three offices in Australia, Austin and London, and it plans to more than double in size over the next year, adding new workers in mostly sales and marketing functions, along with customer success and engineering.
"We had a business plan in place which looked at doubling the staff. Since we’ve signed this round last week, one of the members in the syndicate is an expert in go-to-market and they’ve already been engaging with us and looking at our hiring plan and our business plan and just changing the way we think about it. As a result of that, I think we’ll slightly more than double," said Pearson.
The funding will also go toward building out the product, specifically when it comes to integrations with other systems, and enterprise functionalities.
"We’ve got a lot of enterprise functionality already but the area we’re really trying to focus on now is how we do consolidated recording across global regions, while still preserving things like data serenities," Pearson explained.
"So, if we’ve got a company like Gucci, with a head office in Italy, we might start with them running out of our German service, but they then also want to roll to Asia Pacific and the U.S. and so how do we start getting global reporting and global analytics, while still preserving all of the data serenity issues of not moving data out of region? Things like that. We’re really starting to focus as our customer have been getting bigger and bigger, and they’re rolling out into more languages and more geographies, we’re building out a lot of the enterprise functionality that we need to to make that work well."
In the short term, Enboarder measures success by how well new hires do in their new roles, and how quickly they acclimate to their new jobs.
"For us, success looks like when a new hire starts at company, we want them, at the end of their first day or the end of their first week, to say, ‘Oh my god, I just joined and I’ve had the most incredible day one, week one, what an amazing company.’ That’s what success looks like for us," Pearson said.
In the long term, though, onboarding is just the starting point for Enboarder, and the company sees many different ways its platform can be used by employees, not just when they first start their new job. For example, when someone goes on parental leave, or when they are promoted, or if the company is acquired, or when they leave; those are all areas where Pearson believes that Enboarder has the ability to make a difference.
Maybe my wife gets pregnant and I’m about to go off on parental leave, how do we help that transition off into parental leave and return back from parental leave? How do we make that experience fantastic? Maybe I’ve just been promoted from an individual contributor into a manager and now I’m managing people; how can we onboard that person as a great people manager? Maybe my company’s acquired and I’m going to join another company; our platform can be used for onboarding tied companies and merging cultures and things like that. Maybe I’m leaving and when I hand in my resignation I can be off boarded in a way where it’s not just about exit surveys and turning off my computer access, but how do we create an amazing last impression when you leave a company, so that if the grass is not greener on the other side, I think, ‘I want to go back to that company because they treated me well'," said Pearson.
"For us, we really want to own the employee experience. So, from the moment someone signs their offer letter and they become an employee, there are a lot of steps down through that employee’s life cycle where we feel we can make a real impact," he said.
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