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By David Shultz

After he quit his job as a product manager at Google, thirty-one-year-old Raphael Akinsipe got to experience the myriad complications of managing people.

As chief growth officer for a healthtech startup called Casetabs, Akinsipe realized, he was in a position where he had to manage a larger team of people than ever before. “I was spending way more time trying to keep everyone on track versus actually doing my job of driving our business,” says Akinsipe. “I was like, ‘I feel like I could probably automate a lot of this.’”

His experience at Casetabs underlies his latest project, a software startup called SocialCrowd that helps workers and managers keep track of goals and progress by automatically rewarding employees for work they’re doing. He calls it a “Fitbit for work.” Even though you won’t need to buy a watch to use the software, the concept is the same: SocialCrowd tracks what workers are doing on the job and dolls out rewards–usually a gift card of some sort–when they hit their goals.

By interfacing with existing software used at work like Salesforce, Slack, or Square, SocialCrowd allows employers and employees to set goals, which could range from selling a certain number of milkshakes in a shift to cleaning and turning around an operating room in a certain amount of time, or even getting a certain amount of engagement or impressions on social media.

Completing goals nets workers points that are then redeemable for gift cards or other rewards. “If you’re someone who manages a team of any kind, you spend a ton of time tracking their metrics, sending them reminders, … and then trying to find the right way to reward people,” says Akinsipe. “We take those three pieces and automate it for you.” SocialCrowd offers this streamlined convenience as a two-tiered subscription model for either $3.99 or $5.99 per month.

The company just closed a nearly $600,000 pre-seed round with major investments from Gala Capital Partners and VC 414, and has already signed up thousands of users on the platform after drawing attention from some big names like Motorola and Sonic Drive-In.

It may all sound a bit Big Brother-esque, but Akinsipe points out that all of the metrics that SocialCrowd is leveraging are already being tracked by employers. He cites the fact that, sales teams often post leaderboards to inspire a little competition; fast food restaurants are constantly monitoring order fulfillment times; and brand managers are are already tracking page views and engagement. In other words, if you’re going to be surveilled at work, you might as well get rewarded for what you do.

“So for a lot of the end employees, it gives them a sense … that if I hit my targets, or I hit this goal against a certain order speed, or I get a certain sales number, or I get my trainings done, I’m going to be recognized and rewarded for that instantly,” says Akinsipe.

Especially in the new age of hybrid and remote work, both employers and employees are more interested than ever in trying to measure and track worker productivity. Economists and researchers are still debating how much impact the shift has had on productivity, but the results appear mixed, or at least depend on how you measure productivity. And as Akinsipe and others have experienced, much of this reporting and tabulation tends to fall on the shoulders of managers, who may or may not enjoy that aspect of the job. With SocialCrowd, managers are freed from the new obligation, and employees no longer rely on a manager to recognize their effectiveness on the job.

SocialCrowd is still a small outfit, with just 5 employees, but the company is looking to basically double in size over the next year. Akinsipe declined to specify how many users he’s got in the pipeline for the future. But he says his projections put the number into the “hundreds of thousands” by this time next year. In addition to hospitality and sales, the company is also in talks with some big healthcare brands and construction groups. “Our pre-seed investors are all pretty committed to our next round,” says Akinsipe. “We’ll be raising a significantly larger round going into the start of next year, and a lot of that’s going to drive that growth.”


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