The employee benefits market is no piece of cake in France, with a few massive incumbents and a pretty well established challenger, Swile. How could Worklife forge a success against this backdrop? Persistence was a key ingredient but many entrepreneurs are persistent. Worklife was particularly good at something else: focusing on customers – that is, listening carefully to what customers & partners are willing to buy.
Yoopies was born a long time ago as a B2C marketplace for booking nannies and babysitters. When we jumped on board in 2017 with our VC colleagues at Runa, we invested in the first pivot: transitioning to a B2B2C SaaS selling to large enterprises, providing them with kids care services for their time-constrained employees. Major accounts like Société Générale became clients, Yoopies became YoopiesAtWork and quickly generated true recurring revenues. Customers were happy, customer’s employees were happy, the well-known Saas playbook was shining in front of us.
Then COVID hit and parents stayed home. The business took perhaps the most stunning plunge we’ve witnessed during the pandemic. But it rebounded after the lockdowns and Benjamin decided to encroach on Swile’s territory. Why not sell more services to existing customers? Meal vouchers, sustainable mobility, and more. Yoopies made a second pivot, rebranded as Worklife, got its new offering validated by a few existing customers and embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign early 2022. You don’t compete against a company like Swile with pennies on your bank account.
But fundraising around mid 2022 was not a walk in the park. It quickly became clear that no funding round would happen, and the grand project was put on hold. Instead Benjamin and his senior team focused on the dreaded exercise that too many entrepreneurs have experienced in the past 18 months: sailing towards profitability and thus reducing their workforce. Without any further cash injection, they managed to get to break-even within 6 months, which is an even bigger challenge for small companies.
Now you have a cash neutral Saas business with large enterprise customers – what happens next? Potential buyers of course. Cambon Partners organized a well-run process and Crédit Agricole emerged victorious. Happy customers, happy stakeholders and proud entrepreneurs.
So, this is the story of a CEO who never gives up. Worklife could have died several times. But with a CEO in a perpetual state of warfare, the story ultimately turns into a success.
It is also the story of a team who keeps their eyes on the business opportunity ahead and pivots three times to follow customer’s needs.
In startup land there are brilliant, mesmerizing successes and horrible, equally mesmerizing failures. And in between, for the careful onlooker, there are many decent, hard-won successes that are the real fabric of the Frenchtech. Did I mention I love them?
Thank you Worklife team and best of success for the next steps.