Investment Notes: Circle In

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October 19, 2023

We are proud to announce our investment in Circle In, a digital-first employee benefits platform providing on-demand expert advice for caregiving employees and their managers at every life stage.

Earlier this year, Investible participated in the company's Pre-Series A round through our Early Stage Fund 2, alongside Alberts Impact Capital and Upswell Ventures. Today, we are pleased to share the thesis behind our investment.

This week, the Circle In team have launched their latest product, Well, a psychological safety platform to help control psychosocial risk in the workplace. The industry-first tool provides actionable content from global experts via Microsoft Teams to seamlessly integrate support into users' day-to-day workflow.

Building a business to better humanity

Currently, 34% of women leave the workforce after becoming parents. Circle In is on a mission to reduce staff attrition following parental leave by empowering managers and employees to better navigate these moments of complexity.

How? Through their digital-first employee benefits platform. The offering provides on-demand access to expert advice for caregiving employees and their managers through their unique challenges at every stage of life, from first-child nerves, perinatal anxiety, to losing a family member.

After deep-diving into the business throughout our due diligence process, and getting to know co-founders Jodi Geddes and Kate Pollard there were three key success factors that stood out to us:

  1. Product-market fit: The product has proven its product-market-fit with over 75 top-tier customers, significant revenue growth and proven ability to scale.
  1. Ahead of the curve: New regulations around employers managing psychosocial risks (mental health and wellbeing) of employees, and societal sentiment.  
  1. Strong founders: Circle In is led by two strong female founders who intimately understand the market problem.

A product that understands the needs of employees

With a successful five-year presence in the market and a client base of over 77 customers, Circle In's current value proposition resonates well with both enterprises and SMEs, as evidenced by customer feedback and their strong market traction.

Since its inception, Circle In has cultivated a community of women through organic growth, a robust social media presence, brand recognition, and word-of-mouth referrals. Across various industries, notable companies such as IAG, HSF, Domain, David Jones, and Estee Lauder regard Circle In as a valuable resource, especially for new parents, particularly new mothers navigating the transition between work and parenthood.

Screenshot of Circle In platform
Circle In customer interface

Coca Cola experienced a significant reduction in staff attrition after parental leave, with the rate dropping from 18% to 10% within one year of implementing the platform, resulting in approximately $500,000 in savings. Medibank witnessed a remarkable 54% increase in parental retention after 12 months, along with a notable increase in the utilisation of parental leave by men, rising from 2.5% to 25%.

Ahead of the curve

In the modern workplace, care benefits have become essential for staff retention. Society now expects businesses to prioritise employees' individual needs and wellbeing.

According to the Circle In's research (source: Circle In Working Caregiver Survey, March 2022):

  • 9 out of 10 employees prioritise family over work.
  • 8 out of 10 employees report struggling with their current situation.
  • More than 50% feel a sense of belonging at work.
  • One-third are contemplating leaving their current employer.

These statistics have contributed to emerging trends such as the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and the growing acceptance of hybrid-remote work arrangements. Consequently, employers are encouraged to boost their investments in benefit programs and improve the overall employee experience to enhance retention and well-being.

In addition to addressing employee sentiment, new regulations now place the responsibility of care on the employer, extending beyond parental care. As of October 2022, an amendment to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 mandates businesses to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace, with employers now being accountable for managing the mental health and well-being of their employees. You can find more information about this legislation here.

Driven by personal experiences and passion

Jodi Geddes and Kate Pollard are co-founders, co-CEOs, and long-time friends with an intimate understanding of the problem their company is addressing. The duo's professional journey began while working at NAB, where they held leadership roles in their respective fields - Jodi in marketing and corporate responsibility, and Kate in consumer deposits and marketing. Before starting their families, both had extensive corporate careers. Upon their return to the workforce, they encountered significant psychological hurdles upon returning to the workforce.

Jodi states, “Circle In was born out of our frustrations of becoming working parents and the lack of support provided by our employers...

Circle In team gathered together
The Circle In team
...We supported each other through the demands of raising two children while managing full-fledged careers. We frequently discussed various aspects of work and family, from major concerns to minor questions. Our confidence took a substantial hit when we returned to work, and we realised the genuine need to assist women who would follow in our footsteps."

With many potential success factors, it is clear that the path ahead is a bright one for Circle In. Led by two strong founders the startup addresses current employee concerns and is poised to address future ones, paving the way for more understanding workplaces globally.

The Investible team is delighted to have invested in this brilliant company, and we are looking forward to supporting the Circle In team as they look to create workplaces that care through increasing retention of caregiving staff.  

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