This article originally appeared in the Washington Business Journal as part of DC Inno’s roundup of local tech and startup fundings.
A D.C. company has built an app to help workplaces get feedback on finding and fixing internal bureaucracies that keep employees from being more effective at their jobs — and it just raised $8 million to further hone its tech.
FOUNT Global Inc., a workplace analysis company, dispatches targeted surveys that give upper management a heat map of sorts showing which corporate culture or work environment issues are causing the most frustration and, notably, result in attrition.
The technology won the attention of Series A investors in a round led by Lavrock Ventures, based in McLean, with participation from existing backers Osage Venture Partners, of the Philadelphia area, and Grotech Ventures, of Owings Mills, Maryland.
With the new funds, FOUNT plans to invest in its engineering and product teams to expand the scope of its surveys. Currently, the firm targets them to workflow issues in the health care industry and others that rely more heavily on call center setups, but CEO Christophe Martel said he sees potential across more industries. By the end of the year, Martel said, he sees his 25-person remote team growing to 35.
Their approach, however, will continue to center on the surveys. Take a FOUNT client, Northwell Health, for example. The large New York health care system, which counts more than 81,000 employees, might see considerable nursing turnover, and Fount will direct its surveys to get the root of what’s causing the most friction in workflow, rather than asking more general questions around whether they have sufficient tools for the job or are satisfied in their current positions.
“Unlike big typical employee surveys that go to everyone,” Martel said, “we tend to only take a relatively small sample of the population who understand what these blockers are and get really sharp data that the leaders can go and act upon and make the environment better for employees.”
As Martel describes it, “if 10 people said there is a pothole on Connecticut Avenue going north on this side of the road, that’s all you need to know, to know that there is something to fix. So instead of surveying the entire D.C. population to know how they feel about Connecticut Avenue, it’s actually a much more targeted approach to understand what to fix in people’s workflows and work environment to make their life better.”
FOUNT was founded in 2022 as a spinout of Germany-headquartered employee experience consultancy TI People, which had a D.C. footprint. In its first year, FOUNT collected 20 customers, including sportswear giant Adidas, German industrial manufacturing company Siemens and IT services company TEKsystems, based in Linthicum, Maryland, but operating offices in Bethesda, Falls Church and Glen Allen.
Martel declined to disclose the company’s revenue, but said it more than doubled last year’s recurring revenue.
The company works to distance itself from other big-name survey giants like Qualtrics, arguing its output is the analytics and insights, not just the survey administration itself. Though, Qualtrics, a $1.5 billion revenue generator based in Provo, Utah, also offers curated group feedback — and just inked a deal to sell for $12.5 billion to private equity firms.
Ultimately, Martel said, Fount’s most difficult job often lies in convincing a company’s C-suite to adopt the perspective of its employees.
“One of our customers didn’t realize that [employees] had to juggle seven systems to respond to a customer,” he said. “It’s that kind of thing where when you look at it from the perspective of employees, you suddenly see that work is not really ergonomic.
“The problem is not the worker,” Martel added. “It’s actually the company ecosystem that the workers work in that is actually really difficult for workers to navigate.”