Employee engagement platform Perkbox has opened a new office in Sheffield and plans to create as many as 100 new jobs by the end of this year.
The company has its HQ in London’s Blackfriars, where around 120 of its employees currently work, but opened an office in the heart of Sheffield in January this year.
“It’s a combination of talent and connectivity that got us to invest in Sheffield,”
said co-founder and CEO Saurav Chopra.
“For us, Sheffield has the right type of talent – there are great universities there, so lots of talented graduates, but also people who already have expertise in operations, working in contact centres and customer service and customer happiness environments,” he explained.
This access to talent, the low cost of office rent and the fact it’s just over two hours on the train from London makes Sheffield an ideal location for Perkbox’s second office, Chopra said.
Perkbox, which launched in 2015, enables companies of all sizes to offer perks to their employees, such as free food and drink and discounts on cinema tickets.
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Traditionally, large employers offer the best employee perks, as they bulk-buy products and services at a discount. Smaller firms just don’t have the same buying power, but that’s where Perkbox comes in – the platform does the bulk buying and enables SMEs to then offer these discounted products and services to their employees.
“What we’ve done for the first time is really level the playing field for SMEs so they can compete with corporates in the battle for talent,” said Chopra.
“That message really resonated well with the crowdfunding audience, which lead us to raise one of the biggest rounds that has ever happened in the crowdfunding space,” he added.
The company raised £4.35m in October 2016 through crowdfunding platform Seedrs, with Draper Esprit contributing £2.5m of this total.
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The £4.35m raised last year is being used to build out the Perkbox team, boost the number of rewards and perks available on its platform, and grow the number of paid subscribers (which currently sits at over 500,000).
“We’re a very disciplined tech startup when it comes to our financial standpoint,” said Chopra.
“At the start, we raised very little money because we produced a lot of our growth from our own cash and profits, so we want to maintain that financial discipline as we grow,” he added.
Chopra said he will never compromise when it comes to hiring talent, but where it’s possible to optimise on cost he will look to do so, “so long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on our business, mission and brand perception in the market”.
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There are currently 12 people working from the company’s new Sheffield office, but Chopra hopes to build on this number rapidly over the coming months, planning to recruit up to 70 people by the end of the year. He’s also looking to hire around 30 new employees in the Perkbox London office.
In addition to this, Chopra is currently eyeing international expansion. “We’re looking very carefully at the North American market, so that’s something we’re hoping we can launch by the end of the year. That’s a big priority for us,” he said.
He’d like to open a Perkbox office in the states, as opposed to try and run operations remotely.
“You need to know the market and understand the customers, which I don’t think you can do very well remotely,” he explained.
This is another reason behind Perkbox’s Sheffield office – Chopra felt it was important for the company to have a presence in the north of the country, to better serve clients based in the area.
The Sheffield office has only been open five weeks, but Chopra said things are running smoothly.
“So far it has worked out really well and we’ve worked very hard to integrate the Sheffield team into our business,” he concluded.