How 300% revenue growth and an ingrained international culture helped HR startup Enboarder secure $5 million
Thursday, November 22, 2018/
Founded in 2016, Aussie HR technology startup Enboarder now has offices in the US and Europe, and has seen revenue growth of 300% year-on-year. Now, it’s raised $5 million to kick its international growth up a gear.
The funding round was joint-led by Australia’s Our Innovation Fund (OIF), and US venture capital firm Greycroft, and follows a $2 million raise — also led by Our Innovation Fund — just months after the business was founded.
Enboarder is an engagement platform helping reduce friction for companies in the employee onboarding process. With offices in London and Austin, Texas, it counts the likes of Westpac, Australia Post and Qantas among its Australian clients, while serving McDonalds and Walmart in the US.
Founder and chief executive Brent Pearson tells StartupSmart the startup has seen revenue growth of more than 300% year-on-year, and is aiming for a 200% revenue increase in the next 12 months.
“It gets harder,” he says.
“It’s easy to double or triple your revenue when it’s low.”
Since 2016, Enboarder has been focused on “building out the product and creating a global infrastructure”, Pearson says.
He’s been proving the model and securing high-profile “foundation customers”.
This additional funding will allow the startup to kick its growth up a gear, he adds.
“Now we feel like we’ve ticked the boxes, proved we’ve got a product customers want to buy, and can onboard them,” he says.
The funding will be mainly focused on building the sales and marketing and customer success teams, as well as some investment into developing the technology.
“We’re focusing on growing sales and market share, establishing ourselves as the leader in the space,” he says.
It’s also looking to expand its existing international presence. While 55% of the startup’s business currently comes from Australia, Pearson expects within 12 months the largest share of revenue will be coming from the US.
At some point, he also expects European business to account for more than Australian.
A culture of trust
Pearson says he designed Enboarder to be global from the offset, and hasn’t had to make any material changes to tailor it to a US or European audience.
The same things that made Australian clients happy have made American and British clients happy, he says.
“We work in any language and any country.”
However, he has also had to focus on maintaining the company’s culture as it has spread.
The team doesn’t typically use email for communication, sharing information through Slack channels instead, meaning everyone can share information at all times, and employees can catch up in the morning — whatever timezone they’re in.
“In five minutes, I can see everything that’s gone on in London and the US overnight,” Pearson says.
“Our technology has been set up really well to facilitate that.”
Pearson has also tried to create a culture that allows for independence, he says. Within a week of founding the startup, he had written out core values, with a focus on staff autonomy.
“I still interview every hire … to make sure every person is a culture fit,” he says.
“I absolutely trust the guys in the US and UK to do what’s right for the customer,” he adds.
If the right people are in the right positions, Pearson says, he’s happy for them to keep him informed on big decisions, rather than asking his permission to do things.
“Each region runs fairly autonomously,” he says.
And he believes this model will be “sustainable for quite some time”. He intends to continue interviewing every single employee himself, at least for the next year.
“Cultural values are the foundation to how you scale properly,” he says.
Navigating new waters
While Enboarder is growing quickly, Pearson recalls a piece of advice from Our Innovation Fund — his first investor — which stuck with him.
“I thought there would be real pressure to hit the accelerator right away and show rapid growth,” he says.
However, instead, once he had the funding, OIF advised him “not to piss it away, to treat it like gold”.
On this advice, rather than pushing for growth immediately, Pearson made sure the startup’s sales model and customer success strategy were on point before trying to scale. This way, the team was ready to manage that growth.
Pearson advises other founders looking to scale overseas to try to find an investor who will help them achieve that.
OIF has a team member based in New York, and has positioned itself well to help Australian startups in the US market, he says.
“Where they have been super valuable is in helping us to navigate the waters in the US. It’s a very different market.”
“If you want to be a global company, find an investor who can help you,” he says.