One of our goals when starting Peakon was to build a company that we, as founders, would want to work at. That meant working with amazing people on amazing ideas, having a real impact on the world, and having a great time as we did it. Another goal was to try and solve the employee experience from end-to-end; from the day someone applies to a job, to the day they leave or retire.
We first met Ryan from Personify when he came to visit us in Copenhagen. Kasper – one of our co-founders – has for several years been hosting a delegation of MBA students from UNC; firstly at Podio, and now at Peakon. Ryan was one of those MBA students. Our CEO, Phil, had been given the job of entertaining the class of 2016. Straight after Phil pitched the vision behind Peakon, Ryan came up to us and told us how he had built Personify, and how much Peakon’s vision resonated with him and what he was trying to achieve with Personify
We were blown away by Ryan. His story was truly amazing – a real entrepreneur. Not only had he taken over Personify from his parents at the tender age of 24, he’d done it almost straight after the 9/11 attacks; one of the hardest times to be in the recruitment industry in living memory. Despite those setbacks, Ryan had managed to build Personify up into one of the fastest growing private companies, boasting a vast number of market leaders in the Pharmaceutical, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, IT and Construction sectors as clients. Personify wasn’t only successful commercially, but Ryan did his best to ensure that he never lost the dynamic working culture, in spite of the growth of the company. From Personify’s very own Olympic Games to chicken wing eating contests, the company continued to have a ‘sense of fun’ and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and employee performance
To us, Ryan really ticked all of the boxes from a business perspective, and on top of that, he was a great guy. During dinner one evening, the idea of partnering to sell Peakon in the US cropped up. Personify had already implemented Peakon into their business, and loved it. And we loved the work that Personify did. It made a lot of sense to both sides.
From Peakon’s view we really wanted to crack the U.S. As seasoned entrepreneurs, everyone in Peakon’s founding team had first hand experience of the challenge of launching a European business in the United States. Most European startups fail horrendously at it- we’d been there ourselves some years earlier. It takes a huge amount of market knowledge, money, and time to make a US office work. Many European startups send a founder to the States, find an office, hire a few people and then hope for the best. It almost always fails – or burns through way more cash than expected – especially if the founder leaves back for Europe, which they inevitably do. Partnering with Personify made a ton of sense for us. It mitigated a lot of the risk of opening a US office, whilst giving us even more of an upside than usual because we could work with someone who was already established in the market, and shared our values.
It was an obvious choice for Personify too. Not only could Ryan see how Peakon’s retention and engagement capabilities complemented Personify’s talent acquistion expertise, but he also had seen first hand how technology had been changing his industry, and how Peakon could be a great partner on the technology side. In Peakon, Ryan saw an incredibly strong technical team – the founders had previously started some of Europe’s largest startup successes – people who could give him the advice needed to transform his business through the smart application of software and data-science.
More than anything, we believed in each other’s capabilities. It just made sense.
And so, we have partnered together in the hope that we can really make a difference. So far it’s worked, and we’ve already seen the fruit of the Peakon and Personify partnership in deals with some of the largest brands in North America.
We’re so excited to see where this new partnership will lead, and in the words of our new partner Ryan, “let’s get America engaged!”.