[Startup Bharat] How this Guwahati-based startup is helping companies keep employees motivated during COVID-19

Started in 2011, Vantage Circle is a one-stop employee engagement platform and a SaaS solution for employee privileges.

[Startup Bharat] How this Guwahati-based startup is helping companies keep employees motivated during COVID-19

Friday June 05, 2020,

6 min Read

In 2010, while discussing startup ideas, friends Anjan Pathak and Partha Neog stumbled upon the concept of employee engagement programmes. Partha, who had a decade-long experience in various tech companies, observed the impact the other brands had due to the spending nature of corporates.

The duo thus decided to start Vantage Circle in 2011 with a seed capital of Rs 30 lakh. It started off as a deals and discounts program for employees. Today Vantage Circle is a cloud-based comprehensive employee benefit and engagement platform, providing benefit package to corporate employees through corporate offers, rewards, and engagement programs.

Vantage Circle

The team at Vantage Circle

The Guwahati-based startup claims to be the largest Indian employee rewards and recognition solution provider in the country. The company has some big names in its clientele, including Infosys, Cognizant, Paypal, GE, Wipro, HCL etc.

“With over one million users and serving some of the top global MNCs of the world, Vantage Circle is a one-stop global employee engagement platform for corporates looking to engage their employees,” Anjan tells YourStory.

Slowly but steadily

Anjan has spent most of his 17 years of IT career as a freelance ecommerce consultant in the UK. He has been building and architecting enterprise web application for over a decade and has spent time working for global giants like Tesco, Thomas Cook, Philips, and Royal Mail. Ever since he returned to India, he has been involved in building and mentoring the product, operations, and marketing team at Vantage Circle.

Anjan says that one of the initial struggles for the company was in scaling. Being in a Tier II city, attracting investors’ attention was also difficult. Thus, until about 2014, Anjan and Partha were focused mainly on sales and marketing.

Started with just two people, the company today has about 65 people in its team and is planning to grow to 100.

"However, as 95 percent of our employees are from Guwahati, we face significant challenges in getting skilled manpower. Urgent hiring is always a big problem for us. Recruiting, training, and keeping our colleagues motivated is probably one of the biggest challenges I faced. This was another reason for the slow rate in scaling. Today, the average experience in our team is three years. The attrition rate is also low,” adds Anjan, who believes that the employees are the greatest strength and advantage to his company.

The company is now profitable with the employee revenue generated reaching more than $500,000. Even in terms of clients, Anjan says that it is growing massively with almost all major corporates outsource their employee engagement part to them. “Currently, we have eight of the top 10 Indian IT firms as our clients and have offices in Delhi, Bengaluru, and are expanding rapidly in Guwahati. We have partnered with major ecommerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, etc to provide customised deals and discounts to corporate employees in India.”

Last year, Vantage Circle was awarded a large contract for the Employee Rewards and Recognition platform by one of the largest enterprises in the US. Through this, Vantage Circle’s platform will provide over 90,000 employees of the clients based in the US and India an easy way to redeem their rewards.

This contract marked the entry of Vantage Circle into North America and they have recently opened up its offices in New York.

Why Vantage Circle

Engaging the employees in a company has become crucial in the current competitive business environment. An employer must keep their employees satisfied and motivated for them to boost their morale for better productivity and to achieve their goals. Vantage Circle help companies and corporates to do the same.

“We are changing the way HR manages Employee Engagement and Benefits programmes. Creating one single platform to engage employees through Rewards and Recognition, Wellness, Perks, Sentiment Analysis, and more – both through web and mobile – our business model makes it very cost-effective (in some cases zero costs) for the corporate to use our platform,” says Anjan.

The platform provides benefits like wellness programmes, rewards and recognition, and shopping discounts to employees that have traditionally been hassle-filled tasks for corporate HR departments. It used to be a time-consuming and a difficult task to deal with multiple vendors.

Vantage Circle bridges the gap by bringing both vendors and corporates on a single platform. It helps corporates to provide a comprehensive and cost-effective employee benefits package to their employees

“Our platform is specially designed for attracting and retaining key employees, through a range of privilege programs such as corporate offers, rewards and recognition, health and wellness, and others,” he adds.

The startup considers the combination of its product suite, covering the entire gamut of employee engagement, and its low pricing as its USP over its competitors like Xoxoday in India, and OC Tanner, Workhuman, Achievers etc in the rest of the world.

The Pandemic

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented shift in people’s work habits, with millions of people forced to work remotely since the crisis began. Companies now depend on tools for video conferencing, team management, and more permanent collaborations.

Under this pandemic, deploying employee engagement measures might be tough. It is, thus, crucial to keep the businesses cultivate a satisfied, motivated workforce and Vantage Circle’s latest cloud-based technology helps in the same.

Vantage Circle incorporates rewards points, on-spot recognition, peer-to-peer appreciation, and unique awards to boost morale. Vantage Circle also helps companies to learn about employee experiences and satisfaction through user-friendly feedback features. The platform has been designed for leaders to recognise and reward teams remotely, offering a huge range of incentives to inspire hard work. Discounts on top-brand products are available, so businesses can appeal to diverse shopping or leisure interests.

The platform achieves these services through features such as -

  • Vantage Fit: An advanced and customisable health and wellness mobile app to rejuvenate the overall wellness of employees.

  • Vantage Rewards: A point-based rewarding, peer-to-peer appreciation, and social recognition platform.

  • Vantage Perks: An employee discount platform which offers a wide range of deals and discounts from leading brands, and,

  • Vantage Pulse: A powerful employee survey tool that helps you measure employee engagement, boost performance, and improve company morale in the workplace.

Future plans

Having entered the US, the Vantage Circle is now looking to expand aggressively to other countries.

Going ahead, Vantage Circle wants to capture a bigger market among mid-segment companies in India as well as abroad.

Anjan says, “On the technology front, our future plan is to make the platform easy-to-use and scale globally. We also want to achieve operational efficiency by automating a lot of tasks we do.”

Edited by Kanishk Singh