Forget the balance sheet. According to Taro Fukuyama, the key to a successful company is a happy work force. And what makes people happy is a culture that recognizes them for being part of a team.
This is the guiding concept behind AnyPerk, the company Fukuyama founded in 2013 with buddy Sunny Tsang. San Francisco-based AnyPerk offers HR departments a program through which they can incentivize employees with preferred pricing on hundreds of products and services nationwide. The perks, such as discounted gym memberships, restaurant and travel deals, clothing and free movie tickets, don’t expire and can recur monthly.
As Fukuyama sees it, the more appreciated an employee feels, the more likely they are to stay at their job. “Most of the time when people are feeling disengaged, it’s because they feel their manager or the company doesn’t appreciate them,” Fukuyama says. “Big companies like the Googles and IBMs of the world can negotiate deals and discounts directly with vendors. We provide a valuable service—and economy of scale—for everyone else.”
AnyPerk costs about $7.50 to $10 per employee per month, decreasing as head count grows. Once a company signs up, it receives access to hundreds of perks, as well as analytics that track employee savings and redemption stats to identify the most popular perk categories from quarter to quarter. HR managers use a web-based tool to pick and choose which perks—from vendors such as Orbitz, AMC Theatres, Intelligentsia Coffee, Ray-Ban and Beats by Dre—they want to pass along to employees.
To say AnyPerk had humble beginnings would be an understatement; Fukuyama and Tsang came up with the idea in a Taco Bell parking lot. The two tell a colorful story of how they were so careful with money in the early days that at times they worked and slept in a friend’s car. Two years, one pivot and one Y Combinator program later, AnyPerk was born.
Investors seized the opportunity immediately. In June 2014 the company closed a $4.5 million seed round led by Tony Hsieh and Zach Ware of VegasTechFund and Stephen Ross of Vayner RSE. In February 2015 AnyPerk closed an $8.5 million Series A round led by Osuke Honda of DCM Ventures.
Fukuyama says AnyPerk is “enabling happiness” for more than 1,000 companies ranging in size from mom-and-pop businesses to multinational corporations.
Malwarebytes, an anti-malware software company in San Jose, Calif., has used the AnyPerk service since April 2013. In that time, Malwarebytes says, 154 U.S. employees have redeemed nearly $50,000 worth of perks.
Results have been even more impressive at Virgin America. Benjamin Eye, manager of teammate engagement, says his user base of 1,800 employees has redeemed more than $190,000 in perks since late 2014. Eye notes that employees hail AnyPerk as a vast improvement over the modest program the airline had previously. “People love the immediacy,” Eye says. “In the past, to get movie tickets we had to wait for stubs by mail; now we can redeem a perk, get the voucher and book the ticket all at once, on a phone.” Eye adds that Virgin America has incorporated its own benefits into the AnyPerk system, so employees can access those offers from the same interface.
Over the next few months, Fukuyama and Tsang expect to offer more ways to reward employees for exceptional work. The company recently launched its Reward feature, which empowers managers to dole out additional benefits to workers who exceed expectations. As part of this feature, employees can swap rewards for benefits of equivalent value in the AnyPerk program.
AnyPerk now has 50 staffers, and Fukuyama says he hopes to eventually build a team that’s large enough to assign one full-timer to every customer. “It’s all part of our bigger goal,” he says. “Solving employee happiness is an ongoing thing.”