Cork start-up helps firms hold onto good staff

Cork start-up helps firms hold onto good staff
Joe Lennon, left, and John Goulding of Workvivo.

Cork start-up Workvivo has won customers for its software that helps firms keep talent, writes Trish Dromey.

NOT so long after its market launch, Cork start-up Workvivo is seeing its employee engagement software being used by almost 80,000 people in 32 countries.

“We are gaining momentum and have just signed one of the word’s leading technology companies headquartered in California for a global rollout across all of their 33,000 employees, said co-founder and chief executive John Goulding.

The two-year-old company already has a customer base of over 20 enterprise-level companies operating in multiple locations, including US-headquartered home automation company Arlo Technologies as well as Cork-headquartered Global Customer Experience company Voxpro.

Currently employing a staff of 11 at its office in Douglas, Workvivo is planning for expansion in the US as well as in the UK and Ireland and expects to double its staff size over the next 12 months.

The idea for the creation of an employee-engagement and internal communication software platform came to Mr Goulding, and co-founder and chief technology officer Joe Lennon, from the challenges they observed expanding companies were having in trying to hold onto talented staff.

“Organisations across all sectors are facing a constant battle to hold on to their top talent,” said Mr Goulding.

Research has long shown that increasing employee engagement helps to greatly increase staff retention. The challenge is that most organisations don’t know how to go about affecting this in the right way.

Seeing a market opportunity, they decided that they could build software that “would support companies to increase employee engagement in a real and effective way”.

Setting up Workvivo in May 2017, the founders spent a year designing, building, and refining their employee engagement and internal communication software platform.

After intensive research, they selected four elements which a successful engagement product needed to achieve.

“To connect employees with the goals and values of the organisation, build a culture of recognition, supercharge internal communications and measure the level of engagement using pulse surveys,” Mr Goulding said.

Using their own private funding to get the company off the ground they contacted Morgan McKinley and Staffordshire University.

“Both organisations loved the concept and set up project teams to work with us to evolve the idea,” said Mr Goulding, adding that by the end of the year Workvivo had created a cloud-based internal communication platform which looks and feel very much like a social media platform, a feature which he believes helps drive sales.

“Both Morgan McKinley and Staffordshire University rolled our platform out across their organisations last year, giving us customer validation before we launched in July,” he said.

Cork start-up helps firms hold onto good staff

To fund the launch, Workvivo raised €500,000, which included High Potential Start-Up funding from Enterprise Ireland as well as investment by the founders. This allowed the company to hire its first staff.

The Trigon Hotel Group was its first post-launch customer followed by CIT and Voxpro. “Our first customer outside Ireland was Kentech in Dubai, and Arlo Technologies became our first US company in February this year,’’ said Mr Goulding.

The major US technology company Workvivo has just signed up, is it largest customer to date although Mr Goulding is at this stage currently barred from revealing its name.

He said Workvivo has a very strong pipeline, and that much of it is from the US.

Until recently, growth has come about mainly through referrals and from a bit of marketing, but this is now set to change. “We are now taking on sales and marketing staff and are building a more robust sales engine in order to grow sales globally,” he said.

Despite making ambitious expansion plans, Workvivo does not plan to raise funds at present.

According to Mr Goulding, it is now generating profits through new customer contracts. The short term goal over the next 12 months is to double staff and take on an additional 50 customers.

“Long-term our ambition is to establish Workvivo as the world’s leading employee engagement and internal communication platform,” Mr Goulding states.

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