Startup Of The Week: benme
Managing employee benefits is an important and costly endeavor for employers. And in many cases, benefits packages offered by companies, employees perceive as inflexible and inconsistent with their expectations. Following this issue, we present you our Startup of the Week – benme, that solves this problem. 🔝 Read their story below and find out the most interesting things about this #startup.
Tell us about your startup. What is benme? And how does it work?
benme is an employee benefits management platform (SaaS), that acts as an intermediary between employers and benefits providers. Our main goal is to help companies deliver the best benefits their employees deserve without extra staff and time sources.
For companies, the benme platform allows to create a variety of personalized, team, or shared benefit budgets; automate administrational processes related to benefits selection, purchases, and management; simplifies benefits communication to the employees; provides useful insights on the company’s employees benefits preferences. Also, our integrated invoice management system provides HR with a single invoice per month for the acquired benefits, making all the processes almost effortless.
For the employees, benme is a self-service platform, that gives the flexibility to choose and manage all their own benefits, acquired from the open local or global suppliers marketplace, and company perks in one place. Also, the platform gives an opportunity to suggest suppliers be added to the marketplace and allows to get reimbursement for services acquired outside the platform.
What are your competitive advantages that work? What are your competitors?
Firstly, benme is a user-focused platform. Being designed with both – employees and HR people – in mind, benme allows to save company’s resources and meet its employees’ expectations by paying for only what they want. According to benme customers’ statistical data, benme helps to not only significantly reduce the amount of administrative work and save on benefits budget but also certainly increases employee engagement.
There’re 2 types of competitors: the first type of competitors provides communication and benefits administration tool, but do not eliminate all the hard work related to suppliers’ search, selection, and management. The second type solves these issues, but they are strongly restricted by the number of suppliers, benefits variety, and region. Thus, compared to the closest competitors, benme either beats its competitors by a more competitive price, benefits variety, or broader platform functionality. benme checks all the boxes.
Secondly, benme is very flexible to all users of the platform – to employees, companies, and partners. Fulfilling the needs of any of the parties we consequentially increase benme value to other users.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
The idea was born seeing a great demand from companies for having a personalized, easy-to-use platform in which you can choose the desired benefits from a wide international network of various service providers. Global statistics show that about 45 percent of all employers face challenges in creating motivational, benefits packages that meet the needs of all employees of the company. In many cases, benefits packages offered by companies, employees perceive as inflexible and inconsistent with their expectations. benme solves this problem too. No matter where your employees work, with benme your employees will receive benefits they really want and need, whenever they are.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
The development of the idea started at the beginning of 2021 during the TechHub pre-accelerator program under the Agency for Science, Innovation, and Technology (MITA). There were numerous, various challenges before launching, but the first and the most crucial was finding like-minded teammates. Then there were financial challenges. And of course the right communication. Communication is crucial. You can have the best idea in the world, but you need to know how to bring it to the world. In the beginning, everyone thought that benme is very similar to other existing benefit platforms in the market, but we offer something way different – a holistic solution that solves numerous amount of issues and brings real value to all its users.
At first, we were targeting specifically IT and financial sector companies within the European Union. But very soon it came out that enterprises of different industries (healthcare, telecommunication, retail, manufacturing – you name it) are interested in benme services. Moreover, very quickly we became an international company which covers 18 different countries all over the world, including not only the EU, but also UK, US, Australia, and others.
What are the biggest challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming it?
One of the biggest challenges for a new startup is the lack of state incentives and tax breaks. Currently, benme proceeds its operations thanks to investment funds and the financial help of private investors. Also, we had the struggle to attract employees as we compete not only with already established businesses, but also other startups in the market, which is hard at the beginning. But we managed to attract talents to join our team and we are always looking for different ways to create the best working environment and conditions for our employees.
Tell us more about funding. How did you get it? Do you seek extra funding?
Before pitching we had months of preparation, practice, and improvement. We participated in startup support programs that helped us to lay the foundations for the investment attraction and helped us to accelerate the development process. The “Techhub” pre-accelerator program was a springboard for our idea, after that, we were noticed by the “Startup Wise Guys” and attracted our first investment of 50,000 Eur. Recently a second investment landed on our company’s doorstep, this time with two private business angels investing 100,000 Eur.
Please introduce your team!
benme was established by the CEO Irma Bučinskaitė, who has more than 15 years of experience consulting HR on employee benefits, and CTO Tomas Smagurauskas, who engineers and develops products for more than 10 years from now. Other team members, who joined benme in the very early stage of company development are client success manager – Dalia Jurgalėnaitė, developer Žilvinas Vinskas, and Product Analyst Rokas Kaftanikas. However, over the last few months, the team even doubled in size – 2 business developers Kristupas Gaidys and Adomas Auga, Business Development Manager Eividas Grinius, and Marketing Manager Juliana Semionova joined our team. And we already await more talents to join shortly!
Strong startup culture isn’t something that can be created overnight but it can be worked towards with some conscious moves. What are your moves towards this?
From the very beginning several approaches came from the benme co-founders:
- Trust – we value honest, respectful, and sincere relationships between our team members. Only in the trustful environment, we will actually be able to learn, grow and move forward.
- Low power distance – we have roles and responsibilities, but it doesn’t mean that the CMO will not be happy to beat you during the board game night.
- Feeling of responsibility – you always know that you can ask anyone for help and there’s the whole team who is willing to help you.
- Celebrations – whenever it is a new sale, teammates’ birthday, or a usual Friday night – we will find a reason to celebrate and make it special.
And there’s so much more. We just don’t forget to live while working and enjoy each other’s company.
⭐️ Bonus question: what’s next? Tell us about your plans.
benme evolves very quickly, continuously adapting to improve its user’s experience. A huge part of this process plays our existing clients. They collaborate on platform development and provide insights on their needs, allowing us to make the platform, and in the future – benme app – even more user-friendly.
Also, platform development direction was identified by consequence of covid-19 – as employees’ preferences shifted towards remote and work from different countries, we had to provide more flexible solutions for international markets. Thus, we are happy to collaborate with partners and clients from all over the world to provide our end-users with the benefits they desire.
Our warmest thanks to benme team for sharing their story!