Kiwi employee experience platform Excellent raises $2 million in pre-Seed round

- September 8, 2022 2 MIN READ
Excellent cofounders Samantha Gadd and Jenny Busings
New Zealand employee experience design startup Excellent has raised NZ$2 million in a pre-Seed round.

ANZ VC Blackbird Ventures led the round, supported by Icehouse Ventures, Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 ), and several other founders, including Sharesies founders Brooke and Leighton Roberts, Phase One Ventures CEO Mahesh Muralidhar, Joyous cofounder Mike Carden, Groov CEO Adam Clark, and Justine Smyth, chair at Spark NZ.

The funds are earmarked for international expansion.

Excellent helps company people managers collaborate with their employees to redefine what a modern workplace looks like using the emerging discipline of Employee Experience (EX) Design.

The Kiwi startup is making it easier for organisations and leaders to co-design experiences with employees, as a community-led platform providing learning and design tools tested in real businesses, as well as an accreditation pathway and networking opportunities.

Cofounder and CEO Samantha Gadd founded and led human-centred HR and EX consultancy, Humankind, for more than decade 10 years before starting Excellent with her business partner and co-founder, Jenny Busing.

Gadd said the pandemic over the last two years has accelerated a mindset shift for employees seeking more meaningful and enjoyable work experiences – and businesses are struggling to keep up.

“Excellent was born out of this movement, where we believe employee experience isn’t something leaders alone should be deciding – it’s the people in the company that can best understand and design the ideal work experience,” she said.

“Businesses who embrace this shift will ultimately retain the best talent and enjoy the most success.”

Busing, Excellent’s Chief Growth Officer Jenny said people who love their work achieve more.

“Similar to customer experience and user experience, EX is about ensuring employees are getting meaningful value out of their relationship with work, so that they are retained, developing, and most importantly, thriving within the organisation,” she said.

Blackbird principal Phoebe Harrop said the VC has invested in multiple founders creating a fairer, happier, more engaged future of work: from Culture Amp, to Applied.

“Our investment in Sam and Jenny is the next chapter in this story. They combine subject-matter expertise and knock-down-walls energy which we believe will allow them to create a thriving global community of EX designers,” she said.

“We’re stoked to be leading this round and can’t wait to see what they and the Excellent team build from here.”

Spark NZ’s Justine Smyth said that as the chair of a public company, she knows the challenges employees and organisations face in navigating a post-covid world.

“Excellent is leading the charge in getting people leaders access to the global expertise, skills, and support they need to deliver high-quality employee experiences to their workforce,” she said.