A Q&A with AnyPerk co-founder and CEO Taro Fukuyama. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2012 and just raised $1.4 million in Seed funding in mid-March from Digital Garage, Ben Lewis (a founder of Tapjoy and Karma), Michael Liou, CyberAgentVenture and Shogo Kawada (founder of DeNA).
SUB: Please describe AnyPerk and your value proposition.
Fukuyama: AnyPerk is a one-stop shop for employee perks. We provide real employee discounts to companies of all sizes by partnering with hundreds of vendors in fitness, entertainment, travel, team building and more. By gaining access to corporate rates and VIP treatment, employees save money, productivity rises, and company morale enjoys a significant pick-me-up. As a result, companies can recruit and retain the best employees in their field.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Fukuyama: Companies that are willing to invest in their employees. Size doesn’t matter—whether it is a small, medium, large, or growing company, we believe the mutual trust that evolves between an employer and employee who feels valued in the workplace is essential in team building. Any company that wants to increase productivity and recruit strong talents—those are who we are here to serve.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Fukuyama: Only a few companies in the United States provide the type of product AnyPerk does, yet our biggest competitors continue to be HR departments of companies looking to build their own internal platform for providing employee perks.
SUB: What differentiates AnyPerk from the competition?
Fukuyama: We focus on the quality of our perks as well as quantity; this paired with the unique, simple design of our site makes user experience amazing. Our goal is to provide clients with perks they find valuable and useful. That means if a client requests a particular perk, we work to make it into a reality. All our perks are long-term, and therefore a discount that is available today will still be there in six months. We understand that sort of consistency is valuable to customers.
We also keep our eyes open for new trends. Corporate wellness is a hot topic these days, so we’ve made it a point to establish relationships with fitness companies worldwide. We also realize the importance of team building exercises, particularly for startups, so we’ve worked to increase our pool of perks that work toward that end.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Fukuyama: AnyPerk was accepted into Y Combinator for the Winter class of 2012. We launched in March 2012, and since then have welcomed over 2,500 clients to the AnyPerk family, including Pinterest, Klout, BirchBox, Seamless, and Pandora. We continue to experience incredibly rapid growth and look forward to expanding more in the future.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for AnyPerk? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Fukuyama: All of the founders of AnyPerk grew up in Japan, where four public companies had already existed with the same business model as that of AnyPerk today. There was an opportunity to bring the idea to the United States, where the market had yet to be tapped, and we were determined to be the ones to really make it big.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Fukuyama: We wanted ‘Perk’ included somewhere in the name, so we searched all the domain names that did. We also wanted to be above Apple in the phone book. AnyPerk filled both requirements, and we purchased the domain for five dollars.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Fukuyama: One of the most challenging parts of building a company is recruiting qualified individuals to form a cohesive and driven team. This, we can say proudly, we’ve done so far successfully.
SUB: You just raised $1.4 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Fukuyama: We want to continue to find and recruit the best talent to join our AnyPerk team. As we grow, we can exponentially increase and diversify the pool of perks available to our customers as well as increase the discount amounts.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Fukuyama: The market for accessible and widespread employee benefits and discounts has been around for over ten years. When we first joined the field, we had far more competitors than we have today. Our goal is to fill the gap in the broken market where demand is obviously very high, but supply remains low.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Fukuyama: When signing up for AnyPerk, companies pay five dollars per month per employee to gain full access to our online pool of company perks.
SUB: What are your goals for AnyPerk over the next year or so?
Fukuyama: To continue adding more-and-more perks to our site. Any and every perk our customers can imagine, we want to be accessible right there on the AnyPerk website.
AnyPerk – www.anyperk.com