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Innovation & Job News

DC startup aims to personalize employee perks

Aspire, a D.C. startup that wants to bring Google-like perks to offices all over the country, has more than doubled its client base since leaving Acceleprise's East Coast incubator program in February. The company, which was founded in November 2013 by by Neil Shah and Lily Cua, officially launched its product in March and raised a $400,000 seed round in July.

"It's hard to design a perks offering that appeals to everyone," says Marcy Humphrey, account manager at Aspire. "[Aspire provides] a great opportunity for each person [in a given company] to design their own."

Aspire's platform facilitates company perks through a network of third-party providers. For example, Each month, Company B has a perks budget for their employees. Right now, that money might be going toward catered lunches or commuter benefits. "If people are walking to work, that's a waste of money," says William Huster, Aspire's CTO. "We optimize a company's perks expenses." Instead of one-size-fits-all, individual employees can log into Aspire and choose from a list of perks that mean something to them.

For one person, a perk might mean homemade meal kits from ScratchDC. Another employee might be excited about free Uber rides or free laundry or dry cleaning from Washio. Aspire currently has relationships with 21 different companies to provide different perks to employees, many of them D.C. startups themselves (From the Farmer, anyone?).

"We take a consultant approach," Huster says. "We sit down with the founder [to find out what companies need]." Those discussions can lead to perks like increased professional development opportunities on a managerial level or life coaches. "We're a service company first. We come in and assess the workplace. And if people want lawncare services [as a perk], and we don't have that, we'll go out and find it."

Right now, in addition to onboarding and license fees, the companies Aspire is working with pay for the perks, and Aspire takes a small margin "for overhead and the costs of coordinating [the service]." Companies and perks providers receive monthly feedback from employees via a rating system.

Aspire can currently serve the D.C. area from downtown to McLean. The company will look to expand, both regionally and nationally, soon—perhaps with a Series A raise at the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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