Culture-as-a- Service Start-up Unlock Lands $2M Seed Investment

  • Investment , FinTech StartUps
  • 01.11.2021 09:50 am

UK-based Unlock, a SaaS-enabled marketplace to build culture among remote teams, has raised a $2m seed round. 

The round was lead by La Famiglia, with other investors including Kima Ventures, Antler, GuideStar Ventures and well-known angels Eduardo Ronzano, Thibaud Elziere, Frederic Montagnon, Julien

Romanetto, Nicolas Steegmann, Philipp Moehring, Andy Chung, Ville Vesterinen and Deepali Nangia from Atomico Angel Network, Richard Faern, Ian Hathaway, Lu Li, co-founders of Personio and Foodora, VP Product at Malt and more.

CaaS (Culture-as-a-Service) is a new, $300bn sector attracting significant investor interest as both remote work and competition over the best talent continue to grow. With venture funding that was poured into European technology companies doubling in the first half of 2021 in comparison to the previous year, the fight for talent is becoming intense. 

Strong team culture is key to attracting and retaining talent in a more and more heated labour market. Layering on top increasingly hybrid forms of work, companies everywhere are having to think of new digitally-inclusive ways to create emotional attachment and loyalty among their teams.

Unlock tackles what it believes to be a core part of this new battleground in the war for talent - culture and belonging. Unlock gives workplaces an online venue packed with curated interactive experiences to end the struggle to build remote team cohesion. It already has 300+ purpose-built bite-size conversation starters and games, and 50+ curated experiences from virtual activity creators - ranging from an origami lesson hosted from Tokyo to an interactive song writing session hosted by a professional band. 

Companies can also choose to get personalised cultural calendars consisting of a range of different activities every month. Its unique way of combining a flexible video venue with a marketplace of distinctive experiences has already attracted well-known companies to their customer base. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for employee engagement platforms, with companies keen to provide more support to remote workforces. Unlock doesn’t try to build a virtual office and recreate a physical environment online, but rather build a digital first experience that makes it easier to build healthy remote team cultural habits through meaningful and fun activities, whilst adding a new source of revenue for virtual event creators.

Maria Wlosinska, Co-Founder and CEO of Unlock said: ““We’re in the midst of a culture shift. The companies we work with realise that in order to stay ahead in the talent war, they have to put a strong culture at the core, but that’s not always easy to do in practice. At Unlock, we know that with the right tools and content, gathering as a team online can be easy, engaging and really fun.”

“By providing the cultural infrastructure for companies, they don’t have to spend hours researching and managing how to drive culture in their teams. We make sure there is enough content variability within our platform and the experiences on Unlock are curated to feel refreshing and inspiring for teams to come back regularly.”

“From a product perspective, we believe that in order to create a more genuine social experience online we need to control the venue and its interactiveness. Generic video calls can very easily feel like a classroom experience, whereas we wanted to build a truly interactive team experience. It’s that combination of content variability, ease of use and the interactive elements that our customers appreciate most.”

Judith Dada, La Famiglia’s General Partner, said: “We are at the dawn of the Golden Age of the Employee: in the ever fiercer fight for talent, the cultural empowerment of employees is one of the biggest levers companies have on their quest to being successful, but also a real challenge for fully remote, hybrid, or geographically distributed teams”

“Given their remote team setup and expertise in the space of team culture, we felt Unlock had a unique insight to solving this challenge. Firstly, they bring individuals who are experts in driving meaningful team experiences (“hosts”) to the table, capturing tailwinds from the passion and creator economy. Secondly, they build a platform with features like game cards and on-screen tools that enables teams and hosts to take experiences beyond the limited functionality of meeting platforms like Zoom whose monotony causes fatigue and disengagement. Culture is not defined by a meeting, but by human connections and Unlock enables deeper team experiences purpose-built for connection and fun”.


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