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Taro grew up in Tokyo, Japan. After college, he moved to Singapore and launched his career as an engineer.
Taro is now a cofounder and the chief executive officer of AnyPerk, focusing his efforts on the business and financial aspects for the company.
AnyPerk provides hundreds of perks to small and medium sized companies—discounts off of gym memberships, entertainment tickets, T-mobile, Dell and HP products, just to name a few. Companies can sign up for our service at no cost while they are in Beta. Having launched in March, AnyPerk currently serves thousands of companies and is growing quickly.
Our mission is to help businesses attract and retain top talent while providing a rewarding work environment. We believe that every employee, regardless of company size, should have access to high-quality employee perks.
MO: How did you come up with the idea for AnyPerk?
Taro: Most founders start companies because they see a problem and want to fix it. We were no different. We realized that it was nearly impossible for small and medium companies to provide perks similar to those of larger companies. These perks are crucial to incentivize, motivate, and retain those employees for the long run. That was the puzzle we wanted to solve—how can we recreate those perks at smaller companies?
To get a better understanding of the employee wellness space, we conducted hundreds of hours of research, looking at different workplace policies, exploring employee perks programs, and interviewing our contacts in the HR space. We came up with the model for AnyPerk based on the learnings and the feedback of our target customers.
MO: Can you talk about the process of putting together a network that provides hundreds of perks to your clients?
Taro: As a part of the Y Combinator (YC) program, we had a great network of companies to reach out to. We invited the fellow YC companies to join for free to build our initial base of customers. We received great press. And other companies started flooding in.
Meanwhile, we started pitching to vendors to provide perks to our clients. The platform pretty much sold itself, as we had a great demographic of professionals and the startup community that these vendors wanted access to.
MO: What are some of the advantages for employers signing up with AnyPerk? What kind of criteria are you using to determine if a company is eligible to use AnyPerk?
Taro: For the time being, we provide the most value to the small and medium sized companies. Executives realize that they need to invest in their employees, but it takes too much time and resources to attempt to get their own deals. That’s where we come in. We’re able to provide higher discounts because we have the buying power of thousands of companies. Not to mention, it’s free!
In terms of criteria to join, we have several screening methods to select our customers. We focus on selecting legitimate businesses that prioritize their human capital.
MO: You launched AnyPerk on March 1st, 2012, and managed to sign up more than a thousand companies in the first month! How did you manage to gain such impressive traction so rapidly?
Taro: I think it was a real testament to what we were doing. We built a fantastic product that rewarded employees. Plus, everyone loves to save money.
A significant portion of our traffic came through word of mouth and referrals. And I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we got featured on TechCrunch.
MO: What’s your strategy for creating brand awareness and keeping the momentum going?
Taro: Our main focus on the users and building a product that they want. We frequently meet with human resources of different companies to understand their pain points and with our users to gage their thoughts on =what perks are valuable to them.
Meanwhile, we hired a rockstar business development team that brings on more users and more perks. It’s fulfilling to know that we come into work each morning to help companies motivate their employees!
MO: What have you found personally to be the most rewarding part of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Taro: I love talking to and learning from our customers. We are revolutionizing the employee wellness programs for thousands of companies. That is rewarding in itself.
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