The growing trends of hiring and managing remote workers, and more recently major reorganizations across a range of industries, have redefined and revolutionized the concept of teams at work. While some return to the office, many of us don’t see each other face-to-face, and even when we’ve checked in together, virtually or in person, our groups of colleagues can change quickly. Now, a startup that has built a platform for hosting events to make work teams feel more connected is announcing funding as it faces strong demand for its own services.
Teamraderie, which offers short, live virtual classes and other content led by experts across multiple categories used at team building events along with software to manage the experience and provide feedback on the events’ impact, has $7 million -Dollars raised, the funding it will be used to expand its platform with more content and more customers.
The startup stars offering 45-minute classes include icons such as former gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, Pulitzer Prize winner Marcia Chatelain and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov; and it counts Google, IBM, Twitter, Cisco, Microsoft and Intuit among its 200 clients and says it has run courses for about 50,000 people in about 50 countries to date. (Prices for the service start at $300 and vary based on content, number of users, and whether the company is a subscriber or uses Teamraderie A La Carte.)
Founders Fund is leading the round, and Teamraderie said a group of more than 12 “chief human resource officers and chief people officers” are also in attendance (which speaks for the customers it appeals to). The company has now raised around $9 million and from our understanding this Series A values the company at around $60 million.
Teamraderie’s rise comes at a moment of rapid evolution in the workplace, which has been rocked by the forces of Covid, layoffs and changing consumer habits.
The broader “productivity software” category has definitely received a boost to address the shift in how we work today – Zoom has become something of a palimpsest for a wide range of video collaboration tools; Slack is one of dozens of virtual chat platforms; Workflow and project management go far beyond Asana and Trello; and so on. But even when all other productivity boxes have been ticked, teamradery addresses another challenge that exists in the workplace, particularly in the workplace of knowledge workers, which is improving our relationships with each other as a way to work better together.
At its core, Teamraderie is a bit like Masterclass-meets-LinkedIn Learning, but only focuses on business users and may be used with physical props used as part of the session.
As with other team building concepts, the idea is to put people in unfamiliar environments and away from discussions about their actual work to focus their attention back on working together, thinking together and getting to know each other better. (For example, a Nascar presenter who, in the words of Michael McCarroll, CEO and co-founder of Teamraderie, “reinvented changing tires” will walk a team through a tire change on a car model.)
“We want to make sure teams can work together really effectively,” McCarroll said in an interview. Teams have a whole range of relationships, and it can be challenging to really get to know people and understand different perspectives when either your team is changing or you’re not working directly with everyone in a physical setting, he continued get to a point where every member sees every other member as a human. When you feel more connected and understand and care about what other people on your team have to say, you get more value.”
Aside from the media and content aspect of its platform, Teamraderie also offers technology to measure session effectiveness. McCarroll said that this and the key concepts behind teamraderie emerged from research from Harvard Business School, Stanford University, MIT and the University of Chicago on productivity, support and inclusion in the workplace. However, as these will be the ones in our quantified workplaces and in the world who need to know the implications and ROI for all of this, the idea will be to invest in building more tools to improve and use these measurements as well to let the teamraderie continue to grow.
“We use data to customize and develop the product,” McCarroll said. “We’re not just a content company.”
There may also be more investment to scale all of this. Today, the “sweet spot” for the most effective class sizes is 15 participants or fewer, McCarroll said, with larger groups generally tending toward what he calls “social loafing” — that is, not more engaged. This poses an interesting challenge for Teamraderie (and really any tech product that aims to improve remote productivity): How can you achieve the same impact while delivering your product to larger groups?
Keith Rabois, who led the investment for the Founders Fund, said in an interview that the funding environment for startups, whether early or late-stage, is definitely tightening. He said that so far in 2022 he’s offered “only two term sheets for new companies” (excluding those already in the portfolio), down from “twelve or thirteen” at this point in 2021. However, Teamraderie is an easy investment, isn’t it just because it does something different and resonates with big-name customers, but because of the one-size-fits-all economy. “It’s basically balanced, which is unusual for a company at this stage of growth,” he said.