Workforce Transformation

Our Investment In Awardco

Making Employee Recognition More Rewarding
October 28, 2021
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The war for talent has never been fiercer. At a time when employees have more opportunity, more choices and more power, companies need new tools to inspire, motivate, reward and acculturate their workforce.

Every organization wants to create a strong culture through consistent behaviors that lead to better performance. This focus is often bucketed into the blanket term of “employee engagement”. But in the race for better engagement there are few categories as untouched by technology as the employee rewards and recognition space. Traditional programs and offerings often feel like relics from another era. Because they are.

Awardco is on a mission to change all that. The company has created a software platform for employee engagement and rewards that leverages the speed, choice and personalization of Amazon for the modern workforce. They have developed a comprehensive and extensible solution to recognize, engage and reward employees at a time when companies are struggling to create community and culture among a now highly distributed and exhausted workforce.

Awardco’s numbers speak to the timeliness of their offering and the next-gen capabilities of their platform. Since Awardco’s inception in 2012, the company has been cash-flow positive while doubling its size and revenue annually. Awardco has signed many blue chip customers, including highly scaled enterprises like Hertz, Cornell University, and Zillow, and serves over 3 million users globally.   Amazon Business has partnered closely with Awardco to increase engagement, productivity, retention and satisfaction for customers.  That’s impressive performance, especially for a bootstrapped company in today’s marketplace where the prevailing mindset for many is growth at any cost.

What’s equally impressive is the self-reliance, focus and determination of Awardco founder and CEO Steve Sonnenberg. I’ve always had a special appreciation for the unique founder journey at bootstrapped companies, and Steve’s journey is no different. Awardco shares a lot of the same DNA as companies like Atlassian and Qualtrics, which I’ve had the privilege to advise. The team is scrappy and customer-centric, similar to many other Utah-based software success stories I’ve worked with. In fact, Qualtrics co-founder and executive chairman Ryan Smith is joining us as an investor in this financing.  

General Catalyst is thrilled to lead Awardco’s Series A funding–the largest Series A funding of an HR SaaS  startup. Our participation underscores our belief in Awardco’s leadership, strategy and continued growth trajectory. The HR software market is currently at an inflection point owing to changing employee expectations and the need to drive higher employee engagement, compounded by the shift to hybrid/remote work. Now that employees will be spending less time in the office, HR teams will have to find new and creative ways to maintain the same sense of culture and camaraderie that existed before. Additionally, HR teams have an opportunity to repurpose budget for in-person events and corporate real estate towards other forms of employee engagement and incentives.

We think the employee recognition and reward space is but one area that will undergo transformation.  Scaled businesses are forced to rethink their processes, tools, systems and platforms for a new era where stakeholders (including employees, shareholders, customers and new c-suite roles) exercise their newly found voice and power to demand solutions that fit their needs and meet their changing expectations. [You can read more about GC’s thesis re: the new stakeholder aligned enterprise and how we think it will change the face of enterprise technology here. ]

We are excited to be part of Awardco’s next chapter. We are grateful to Steve and the entire Awardco team for letting us be part of their journey. We look forward to helping Awardco achieve their mission to recognize the good in each of us and reward the value we bring to each other.