With Advantage Club, companies' employee benefits now include discount coupons and loyalty points

30th Jan 2018
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Gurugram-based employee rewards platform Advantage Club is helping firms provide curated deal, allowing employees to save more and increase their earnings.

At a glance

Startup: Advantage Club

Founders: Sourabh Deorah and Smiti Bhatt Deorah

Year it was founded: 2014

Where is it based: Gurugram

Offering: Provides privileges and rewards for employees

Funding raised: $700,000 in two rounds of funding

Employees form the backbone of any organisation, big or small, and happy employees mean holistic growth of a business – age-old gyan, but turns out, seemingly ignored in India.

The 2014 Dale Carnegie Pan-India Employee Engagement Report shows that although Indian employees were more engaged in their jobs than global counterparts, almost 54 percent were dissatisfied with their jobs.

Another study by business research consultancy Aon Hewitt lists out the reasons for dissatisfaction. Low salaries topped the list, followed by limited growth opportunities, and uninspiring or difficult bosses. While motivation and engagement often help in employee satisfaction, corporate firms can now go that extra mile, and also pamper their employees with personalised rewards.

One company that is helping organisations pamper employees by providing curated employee rewards is Advantage Club (previously known as Work Advantage), a mobile-first employee reward, recognition and perk platform.

Advantage Club has partnered with over 6,000 companies, including Café Coffee Day, Samsung, Lifestyle, PNB Home Loans, Max Healthcare, and several others. To let employees avail benefits, Advantage Club has tied up with more than 200 firms, including Fidelity, Concentrix, Accenture, RBS and Adani, among others.

How does the platform work?

An organisation can reward its employees and customers with points, and users can use these points to buy anything from the marketplace. The options are wide enough that the points can be redeemed for a meal, to a movie, to shopping vouchers or personal grooming.

The points are clubbed with a social recognition platform, where people can like and comment on the rewarding activities, and also appreciate their peers. The platform has features like co-paying from one’s own pocket while redeeming points, and clubbing point redemptions with discounts.

“Personalisation, dashboard with analytics, and other smart features help us in giving the user a-one-of-a-kind experience, and also increases transactions on the platform,” highlights Co-founder Sourabh Deorah.

The platform can be accessed through a mobile app or the web platform. It also provides phone and email-based customer care to address customer queries and concerns.

The story behind Advantage Club

The rewards platform is led by thirty-year-old Sourabh and twenty-nine-year-old Smiti Bhatt Deorah, both UCLA alumni who had worked for Microsoft in the US.

Smiti Bhatt Deorah and Sourabh Deorah

Working with Microsoft in the US, Sourabh recalls employees would get many perks, which were convenient and made them feel valued. A bit of research showed Microsoft did not run the programme by itself, and it was actually managed by a third party, which ran the programme for 15 other companies in the US.

As the company running the programme was over 30 years old, the platform was fairly outdated, and Sourabh and Smiti saw this as an opportunity to make a difference in the space using data mining and analytics. During this time, they also learnt there was no such programme in India. This was the boost they needed to leave Microsoft and come back to India to start their venture.

No entrepreneurial journey, however, is complete without challenges.

“Initially, one of the biggest challenges while starting out was building both sides of the platform. It is always a chicken-and-egg problem, where companies don’t sign up if there are not enough clients, and vice versa,” recalls Sourabh.

To tackle the issue, the platform started with signing on companies as clients. After signing on 75, Advantage Club signed up 10 companies for a beta testing phase, and later officially launched the programme.

Disrupting the loyalty programme space

Today, several startups such as Hifives, MintM, GoZoop and CINQO have entered the space to strengthen and benefit all parties involved, be it client companies, or employees.

Advantage Club relies on its strong focus on technology to stay ahead of the curve.

With features like location-based notifications, redemption options with co-pay, a cumulative platform for both perks, and reward and recognition, and personalisation of the marketplace based on usage and ease of availability, Advantage Club is confident it can disrupt the rewards and loyalty space in the country.

Decoding growth plans

Advantage Club started out with a three-member team - the two co-founders and one content intern. Today, the platform has a staff strength of 40, and has offices in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.

“Even though our partners are present pan-India, our team’s physical presence is in three cities in India right now, we would like to expand that to six cities in the near future,” adds Sourabh.

Sourabh highlights the platform turned profitable in the last couple of months last year, and had a repeat user rate of over 70 percent. The platform makes money by charging a nominal fee from both the client firm and partner companies.

So far, Advantage Club has raised $700,000 in two rounds of funding from Axilor Ventures, which is led by Infosys Co-founders Kris Gopalakrishan and SD Shibulal, and other marquee investors. Advantage Club aims to utilise the funds to expand its product portfolio, introducing additional dimensions in employee and customer engagement.

Currently, the programme is running in major metro cities including NCR, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, and Advantage Club is planning to expand across India to Tier-II cities.

“Advantage Club has proven that they are the right platform for brands to reach out to targeted niche audiences. Their focus on technology and strong unit economics has enabled them to build a venture which is not just sustainable but also scalable,” said Amit Singhal, an investor and founder of Startup Buddy.

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