A happy and engaged workforce is normally a productive one. The issue for many employers is how do you know if they are happy and engaged? Hive.HR have developed a SaaS solution that provides employers with real-time insight on engagement and motivation levels. We spoke to their CEO, John Ryder, to understand more about his motivation to start the company and their journey to date.

Start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does.

Hive.HR is a SaaS proposition that enables organisations to gather feedback from the workforce at scale via digital surveys. Using Hive, organisations can measure, understand and improve engagement or motivation levels in the workforce in real-time. Increasingly so, organisations are also using our software to understand and manage change – there’s a big appetite for that.

What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?

We’ve tuned our product to really strike a chord with mid-sized companies and their specific challenges, in fact our sweet spot is organisations of 500 to 10,000 employees. For organisations that size, there’s the appetite to work with a software supplier that can provide hands-on, expert support to help them make the transition to the real-time approach. That’s the big USP for us.

What is your personal background?

My background is marketing, product development and business strategy. Hive.HR is the third startup that I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in at a senior level and I think I’m quite fortunate to be able to say that each of them has been a success.

What inspired you to start the company?

It was a combination of seeing an opportunity and being passionate about the subject matter.

In every business I’ve worked, the people have always been the most important asset. As such, your people are one of your biggest strengths and also one of your biggest risks – especially if they leave. You ask yourself; how can we mitigate the risk of our people leaving? How do we continue to attract the best people as we grow? So that’s when I got interested in the subject matter of employee engagement.

It’s no secret that organisations are often performing poorly at engaging their workforces and this fascinated me. I could see that thought leaders within the space were calling for change and I could see that there was opportunity to help enable that change if organisations had the right tools for the job.

What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now?

We started trading in January 2016. In our first four months we only billed £3,000 but to be honest we were really happy with our direction of travel and in the twelve months that followed we billed £176,000. It’s steady growth but we’ve done it on a tight budget having completed a seed round in April 2016.

We’re now four months into this financial year and are on course to exceed our billings target of £500,000. We’re about to move into some new office space and are preparing to grow our headcount to help take us to the next level.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?

One of the biggest challenges was that we found ourselves “in the deep end” very quickly. What I mean by that is that within just a couple of months of launching – we were having to meet the needs and expectations of some large organisations and well known-brands. It was hard and it was a steep learning curve but we met the challenge and it was really good for us.

What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?

Certainly the scale and scope of our customer base. Less than two years in and we’re working with amazing brands like Topshop / Topman, AO.com, Village Hotels, Peabody and Premier Foods.

What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?

In two ways. Firstly, we generate annual recurring revenue and monthly recurring revenue by charging our customers a subscription fee based on the number of software licences (number of employees) they require. Secondly, the advanced level of support we offer is charged out at a day rate, similar to a “consultancy” model. I prefer not to call it consultancy because it’s really not. It’s all about enabling customers through transfer or knowledge, experience and best practice.

What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?

There are a number of key hires that we need to make before we have all of the chess pieces on the board so to speak. We’re not looking to be acquired right now but it’s something we’re aiming for in another four or five years.

Will you be looking for more funding? 

We’re already growing at a steady pace but we know that we can grow even faster if we had even more capital. We’re about to raise another round of funding so it’s a really exciting time for everyone here.