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Employment Hero scores $22 million in Series C raise, led by strategic investor Seek

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Employment Hero chief executive Ben Thompson. Source: Supplied.

Cloud-based HR platform Employment Hero has raised $22 million in a Series C round, led by Seek, valuing the startup at more than $100 million.

Existing investors OneVentures and AirTree Ventures also contributed to the round.

Founded in 2014, Employment Hero provides payroll, benefits and employee management services, in a bid to ease the burden for SMEs.

Back in March 2018, the startup raised $8 million in Series B funding.

Since then, co-founder and chief Ben Thompson tells StartupSmart it’s been working on scaling, and adding new features to the platform, including an employee benefits module, real-time payment capability, and a rewards and recognition service.

Earlier this year, Employment Hero also launched its international product, meaning the platform is now available in all English-speaking countries

“That was a fairly major release,” Thompson says.

Rather than rolling out the product one region at a time, the technology launched everywhere at once, he adds.

“We will be watching and running experiments, and where we see traction within a country or a region, we will start to focus our efforts on localising for those regions.”

Over the past four years, Employment Hero has doubled its revenues year-on-year, and it now has more than 130 staff member on board.

Of course, after this raise, it also boasts a valuation of $100 million.

But, Thompson treats the valuation as just another metric.

“I don’t want to put too much on it,” he says.

“For me, it’s just a reminder that we need to stay focused on our customers and stay focused on growing fast.”

Strong alignment

The funding will partly be used to continue Employment Hero’s international expansion.

“We needed capital to do that,” Thompson said.

However, it’s also about maintaining the core metrics of growth, customer retention, and product innovation.”

“All of those things were in line with where we wanted them to be, and that put us in the right spot to raise capital.”

Now, the startup will be continuing to invest in innovation and development, working on a “pyramid of priorities” in order to fulfil the startup’s purpose, Thompson says.

“That requires a lot of development, a lot of teams, and we also need to focus on how to deliver that to businesses all over the planet.”

There “a thousand things” we’re working on he adds.

Having the round led by Seek gives Thompson extra confidence that Employment Hero can continue on its current growth trajectory.

“Part of our confidence in growing rapidly is the ability to work with Seek and connect the place where most people find jobs … and the platform that helps employers manage those jobs.”

It’s validating to have continued support from AirTree and OneVentures, he says.

“It’s always nice to have their support, and to be working with a team of investors that I gain a lot of value from.”

But, with Seek, in particular, Thomson says there’s “such a strong alignment around our cultures and the mission of both businesses”.

Practising what you preach

When it comes to growing a fledgling startup to an international, $100 million company, Thompson says it all comes down to knowing your purpose and hiring people who align with that.

“The most important thing for me, and for us as a business, has been having a clear purpose and a compelling purpose,” he says.

For the founder, “the hardest part” has been attracting really good people who share that purpose.

“Once you’ve got really good people who are working with one outcome in mind, then it becomes a lot easier,” he says.

“It’s about having a really engaging purpose that attracts really great people, and then making sure you align them on achieving the same objectives.”

In Employment Hero’s case, an employee share scheme is available to all employees in the business, offering all staff the opportunity to be stakeholders in the startup.

“That just helps with that alignment and passion for achieving that shared goal of the business,” Thompson says.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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