PerkNow: Student Startup Finds Success
Friday, December 28, 2018
As a new student at Utah Valley University four years ago, Trevor Larson needed to find a way to make some extra cash. But the typical college jobs didn’t appeal to him. Since he had some experience in car detailing, he decided to launch a mobile detailing service.
The business kept Larson busy but really began to take off once he started to partner with companies to provide discounted detailing as an employee perk. When a corporation signed on, suddenly the business had the potential to reach 4,000 customers overnight.
Larson had been preparing for dental school but his burgeoning venture ended up changing his career trajectory. “I’ve always really loved entrepreneurship and business,” says Larson, “So I ended up switching to business management.”
He enlisted a friend, Andrew Hollis, to help with the company. They noticed employees weren’t often taking advantage of the detailing — simply because they weren’t aware of it. They learned companies didn’t have an efficient way to disseminate information about employee discounts on goods and services. Details about such benefits were left to languish on an intranet page or Google spreadsheet.
That’s when they came up with the idea to build a mobile application and website to host and aggregate employee perks into one easily accessible system. They recruited Jackson Horne and Van Goodman to assist in development and together founded PerkNow.
PerkNow partners with companies to offer a host of discounts to their employees, such as reduced pricing at restaurants or on concert and theme park tickets. Employers pay a nominal, per-employee fee each month for the service.
Subscribing companies have access to the platform as well as an email template with personalized branding to introduce it to employees. After that initial email blast, Larson says they’ve had a remarkable average of 70 percent adoption rate among employees.
Hundreds of potential perks are available. Participants can get exclusive pricing on hotels across the country or discounts on gym memberships. The PerkNow team continues to go out into the community to network with companies to negotiate additional benefits.
The company works with a breadth of business, from those with 30 employees to those with 5000. “Companies that see the most value are those that have 300 or more employees. Because they have more usage and can automate their HR processes,” says Larson.
PerkNow is located in the Utah Valley University Business Resource Center (BRC). The founders have been thankful for the networking, space and critical resources it provides.
The networking made possible by BRC has been key to the company’s growth. Some connections made through the center that have been “total game changers,” according to Larson.
Additionally, having a physical space has been important. “Having a central place to work and collectively come together has been really invaluable for us,” says Larson. “Because I’m a student, we were able to access this for free, which has helped us stay lean.”
The mobile detailing service, called Auto Box, is now a subsidiary of PerkNow. It has provided a needed income stream for PerkNow as it has been in development. “We’ve used it to keep the lights on as we grow,” Larson explains.
Larson says the City of Orem has been a wonderful resource in helping the business start up and grow. “The city administrators and city manager have always been really helpful as we’re looking for ways to grow and get the word out about the company.” he says.
PerkNow continues to innovate. It recently rolled out a new gift card management tool that allows companies to easily send employees digital gift cards. The platform includes hundreds of top brands for employees and helps companies with reporting and compliance.
The streamlined system to distribute rewards to employees is gaining traction. It’s a win-win for employees and employers alike. “Employees love having perks available. HR teams love offering perks. It’s an affordable way to boost benefits and make employees happy,” says Larson.