Starting up with Ben Towers

He's the co-founder and CEO of Happl.
article cover


· 4 min read

On Tuesdays, we get into the weeds with the founders of HR tech startups. Want to tell us about your company? Get in touch here.

Ben Towers is the co-founder and CEO of Happl, an employee benefits and recognition platform that aims to streamline the HR tech stack into one simple interface. In addition to providing teams personalizable benefits and perks, it handles much of the administrative work that makes benefits possible. Since its founding in 2020, Happl has raised $2 million from a variety of investors, including Y Combinator. We spoke to Towers about combining the often disparate pieces of the HR tech puzzle into a single platform, how employees can harness Happl to decide which benefits and perks are right for them, and the future of HR tech.

What product or service does your company offer? We’re an employee engagement platform. We have managed rewards, recognition, and employee benefits.

We have two different portals: One allows the employee to get access to everything from their health insurance, their well-being, learning and development, work-from-home budgets and allowances. Then managers also get a platform to be able to support their teams.

What kind of rewards and recognition are we talking about? You’ve got the obvious ones, like gifting…But sometimes it’s as simple as a public recognition—just showing this person did well this week. But the bulk, I would say, is more like selling physical products or digital gift cards.

What specific issue in HR does your company intend to solve? Employees want better inclusivity of their benefits and engagement. [They’re] going to have so many different things that are important to them, and what makes them engaged. There have been a lot of companies that tried to offer that, but [it involves] a lot of paperwork, a lot of hassle and admin to do that. So, we become that one easy management tool for HR that allows them to buy loads of different options for employees to make it personalized and inclusive for them.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.

How does your company intend to solve this issue? We form relationships with suppliers and providers. We bring that all together. HR can now get an employee access to loads of benefits, loads of discounts, loads of recognition options. We will make it really quick and easy for HR to set it up. We also do local laws. It could be different states in the US, it could be different countries over here in Europe. We help [companies understand that] by law, you have to provide employees with these benefits or these offerings.

How do you think HR tech will evolve in the next five to 10 years? A lot of B2B-specific products will no longer be B2B. A good example of that is meditation and well-being apps: There’s far better, consumer-facing products who offer B2B versions, than just B2B pure products, who often sell it to compete with the consumer products.That’s going to be a big driver: More B2B products are going to be consumer first. There’s more of this demand for one platform. We have some of our clients and the HR team will have hundreds of different softwares and providers and things that they have to manage and juggle. And that’s crazy.

How will your company help drive that evolution? By being that one-stop shop for HR to do that. But also, it was really important for us to make sure that we’re really aligned to HR and their needs. Inclusivity is a really interesting thing, which HR wants to do more and more. That’s our business: If we can be inclusive as possible for the employee, but as easy as possible for the employer, then we only ever really need to focus on that.

Want to be featured in an upcoming edition of Starting Up? Click here to introduce yourself.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.