Employee benefit and reward pioneer Ben has raised €2 million in a round led by Cherry Ventures and Seedcamp. The round was also supported by notable FinTech and HRTech angel investors including Paul Forster of Indeed.com, Taavet Hinrikus of Transferwise, Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas of GoCardless (now Index Ventures), Philip Reynolds of Workday, and Matt Robinson of Nested.
Founded in 2019, Ben enables companies to personalise benefits and rewards for each employee. Ben does this by marrying a modern software (SaaS) platform with per-employee Mastercards and financial infrastructure. The platform adds employee choice to any existing benefits programme while adding thousands of additional options, all while saving time and money.
Ben’s platform is primarily used by smaller and mid-market employers who are often left underserved by brokers and enterprise-focused consultative solutions. There are currently over 100 companies using Ben including fast-growing app outfit Lightricks, distributed Tech scale-up Impala and games and virtual worlds technology company Improbable.
The system affords new opportunities for benefit providers too who can reach new employers via Ben. Even niche offerings can easily access relevant employers and segments of employees once they’re integrated with Ben’s API as they will appear as options for companies to make available to their teams.
Sebastian Fallert, co-founder and CEO of Ben, explains how the company works: “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.”
Ben has seen an uptick in interest following the flexible-working boom that followed the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 2020, Ben has experienced a surge in demand which has led to growth: the team grew from two co-founders, to a team of 10.
David Duckworth, co-founder and COO said: “We saw lots of unanticipated demand last year, driven by the remote working boom due to COVID-19. This has been an accelerant to our growth as office-based benefits disappeared overnight, driving more companies to implement flexibility faster than they otherwise would have. COVID meant that aside from managing benefits budgets, clients also began using Ben in a myriad of unexpected ways including for work from home and wellbeing budgets, Covid-relief allowances, remote engagement, and recognition.”
The founders of Ben, Sebastian Fallert and David Duckworth, have been involved in startups for some time. Sebastian previously co-founded Berlin-based JustBook, a mobile-first travel startup in 2011 which was acquired by travel company Secret Escapes in 2013 where he subsequently ran the UK market as MD. David previously worked at large banks such as HBSC where he picked up a taste for payments infrastructure, with prior stints at SoundCloud and Mosaic Ventures
While Ben’s paying customers gain access to the end-to-end platform to manage their benefits programmes, the company also offers “Ben at Home” a free version of its product that delivers free remote engagement for teams and is particularly popular right now. Employees can attend expert-led live virtual activities ranging from meditation to cocktail mixing as well as make use of discounts on wellbeing services.