Thriver Co-Founders, Eran Henig and Yishay Waxman, Are Pandemic-Proofing Workplace Culture
When Eran Henig immigrated to Canada with his wife, failure was not an option. The experience of starting over became a crash course in perseverance, grit and determination. All of which proved to be critical characteristics he needed when co-founding Thriver, formerly known as Platterz, with fellow co-founder Yishay Waxman.
As select workplaces begin to re-open and businesses toy with new hybrid teams, owners are searching for ways to maintain positive work practises. This is where Thriver comes in. The technology-driven workplace culture platform has been focussed on bringing remote and hybrid working teams together in ways that work for them.
“Thriver enables global companies to centralize their culture programs through a single platform that brings employees together,” says Henig, “supporting in-office and remote employees through one platform across food and beverage, wellness, education, and team building activities, driven by the needs and values of individual employees.”
Since raising 33 million in series B funding just last month, Henig says the company has dedicated itself to creating and launching programs that work with constantly changing realities and needs.
Bringing to the market a comprehensive software that no workplace optimization tool has been able to, the company’s goal is to ensure positive working environments for all. With a successful capital raise now under their belt, Thriver has set its sights on expansion, research, and development which are helping the start-up adapt successfully with new post-pandemic demands.
For this week’s Start-Up Spotlight, we spoke with Eran Henig, co-founder and CEO of Thriver, about COVID inspired programs, workspaces post-pandemic and what is takes to be the lead and re-brand in a global crisis.
Q & A
In a COVID world, are there new workplace programs you will be rolling out?
Many of our services that existed prior to COVID-19, such as Group Ordering, Treat Card and Care Packages, have filled a new need during the pandemic. As companies transitioned to work from home, we evolved our offerings to support remote employees with flexible stipends through our Treat Card, and released Care Packages that could be shipped to employees homes with the essentials they need. As offices begin to reopen, clients have been relying on our Group Ordering offering to feed in-office employees in a safe and healthy way without sacrificing on variety and choice. We recently released our Virtual Experiences offering that allows employees to stay connected through engaging activities no matter where they are.
When starting out, what gaps did you see in the market that Thriver is now working to fill?
We noticed that our customers, especially those with a global footprint maintaining multiple sites, were in desperate need of a centralized solution to manage their food programs in a scalable way. Most companies that offered food and culture services to their employees were in the dark when it came to curation of programs that fit a large number of people, and were unable to achieve a consistent experience from one site to another. Moreover, employers lacked the visibility into employee engagement and feedback, and as a result were unable to measure program success and ROI. Thriver has addressed these pain points when it comes to company food programs, and is now doing the same for all company culture initiatives.
When was a pivotal moment in your trajectory?
The recent rebrand from Platterz to Thriver was definitely one of those pivotal moments. We have been discussing a rebrand and expansion to additional verticals over the last couple of years, and even piloted some of them for offices in 2019, but the changes brought on by COVID-19 definitely expedited our decision, driving us to act now.
All businesses go through turbulent times, especially in the midst of a pandemic. When was a time that you felt your company was going through a rough patch and what lessons did you learn or new procedures did you instill to come out stronger?
When COVID-19 first hit, it was definitely a rough patch for our business, partners, families and communities. Most people, including business owners and executive teams, were not prepared for an overnight shift to a remote work reality, lacked childcare resources, and experienced a general sense of uncertainty and worry about the future of the world.
Our first priority was to assure the health and safety of our team to the best of our abilities, followed by taking the necessary steps to support our partners (restaurants, caterers and other service providers) by expediting payments and helping them adjust to a new COVID-reality. In terms of our core business, our vision has always been broader than just food, and we saw this as a great opportunity to expedite the launch of Virtual Experiences for companies. We also saw a sharp increase in the demand for our Treat card, a prepaid card that allows employers to deploy stipends for employees wherever they are, with the most popular programs being at-home meals, a stipend for home office setup, or spend on health and wellness. Responding to the challenging realities of COVID-19 has cemented our belief in building technology that can adapt and scale to market needs, which is what allowed us to solve our immediate challenges while building a sustainable solution for the future.
A lot of speculation and talk has surrounded what the work place could look like after the pandemic. As a company that works with workspaces, how do you navigate innovation during a time of such uncertainty?
While adversity breeds creative thinking, as much as we embrace technology, we still firmly believe that nothing can substitute human connection. Whether offices will return to full occupancy or the world will move to a hybrid work from home / office model, people will still need to have meaningful ways to connect with their colleagues. As a leader in workplace culture, our job right now is to help companies navigate these uncertain times by providing tools and resources that build connections while facilitating workplace flexibility. In fact, in a world where most people are working remotely, some of our solutions are more important than ever, whether it’s employers supporting employees by subsidizing meals, or employers helping relieve employee burnout by introducing fun and engaging employee activities during the workweek.
What do you believe is next for Thriver and the state of workplace culture? How do you think Thriver will help with that change?
Building a strong culture has always been a challenge for companies, but remote work has definitely intensified this challenge. Employees can no longer catch up over water-cooler conversations, nor can they easily brainstorm into the night to come up with new business solutions. Spontaneous interactions have been reduced substantially. While this may be great for productivity in the short-term, company culture will suffer in the long term without strategic planning and curated programs that bring people closer together. This is where Thriver truly shines. We have spent the last 5 years observing and learning from over 2,000 companies to arrive at a place where we are experts in enabling thriving workplaces. We will continue to be at the forefront of technological offerings that help curate and facilitate activities that bring people together. We believe that these solutions will help strengthen employee wellbeing, and will therefore help employers achieve better acquisition, loyalty, and retention metrics now and in the future.
What in your opinion do entrepreneurs need to solidify success for their company?
If I had to point at one thing, I would say the team. Visions sharpen and products evolve, but without the right people to support one another without egos, and at the same time be agile, flexible, open, hardworking and motivated, it would be very hard to execute on any vision.