Startup Story

SocialCrowd raises $1.6M pre-seed as venture interest in work software remains high

Performance management startup SocialCrowd has raised a $1.6 million pre-seed round led by Bread and Butter Ventures, TechCrunch has exclusively learned.

Launched in 2020, SocialCrowd is a SaaS platform that provides performance management software, letting companies set goals for their employees and reward them when they are achieved. Speaking to TechCrunch, Raphael Akinsipe, SocialCrowd’s co-founder, likened his product to Fitbit, but for work.

According to Akinsipe, a customer can set up incentive campaigns with specific goals, and SocialCrowd then tracks the customer’s employee performance in real time by connecting to existing productivity apps. SocialCrowd then sends reminders to employees to hit their targets, and when the goals are achieved, the workers are given points that they can redeem for gift cards or custom rewards, like time off.

He said SocialCrowd has seen an increase in attention as companies have struggled to manage the move to remote work. “Many of our customers have large blue-collar shift teams; their staff was not able to transition to remote work during or after the pandemic,” Akinsipe said. “Many of these companies struggled to retain staff, which created an even greater demand for solutions that drive employee retention and increased productivity.”

Work software remains a bright spot for investors, even despite the economic downturn. The possibility of a connection between work software increasing productivity and increasing return on investment is attractive to investors, and they are also drawn to the fact that corporations tend to spend money on work software even when the economy worsens.

However, Akinsipe said fundraising was a marathon for his company. It took him about nine months to raise this round, and he met most of his lead investors through referrals. “Last year was a tough time to raise for everyone,” he said. “There were tons of ‘No’s’ and even more ‘Not right nows,’ so it took a lot of endurance and creativity to close the entire round.”

VC 414, Serac Ventures and Gala Capital Partners also participated in the round. SocialCrowd will use the pre-seed money to expand its team and focus on customer acquisition.

Mary Grove, a managing partner at Bread and Butter, said the firm loved SocialCrowd’s consumer-first approach and focus on employees. “Feedback from [the company’s] current customers has us excited that this platform is a win-win for both employers and frontline workers within those organizations,” she told TechCrunch. “We’re backing an incredibly smart team that is deeply versed in enterprise SaaS and building with a product-first lens.”

“I envision a future where our platform delivers more than just incentives and rewards but is truly a tool for employee growth and business insight,” Akinsipe said.

Akinsipe and his co-founder Paul Doran first met in college as roommates. Together, they started a hardware startup that raised a small sum, but couldn’t land an exit. “From that point on, we knew we would stay on the entrepreneurial journey,” Akinsipe said.

The duo went on to start a few startups, including web designing firm Glow Station and website management service Just Media Studios. Akinsipe has also held jobs at Google, as well as at Casetabs, which sold to Bain Capital.