Pics…Or It Didn’t Happen! Our Investment in Blueboard

  • September 23, 2020
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The campus at the University of California at Berkeley includes an oversized bulletin board, where students and organizations can post a variety of announcements – ride sharing, concerts, stand-up comedy nights, and kitesurfing lessons are just a few examples. Known as the “blueboard,” it has become a vital source of entertainment news and information for students.

The original Blueboard
The original “Blueboard” on the campus of the University of California (Berkeley)

In 2015, alumni Taylor Smith and Kevin Yip created a company focused on employee rewards and recognition. But instead of gift cards and cash bonuses, the co-founders created a network of uniquely memorable experiences. They named the company Blueboard as it offered the same variety of entertainment and adventures they previously saw advertised on campus. 

Blueboard’s vendor network is amazingly diverse, offering employees an opportunity to redeem a reward for a cooking class, surf lesson, front-row concert tickets, or a spa day. To offset the impact of COVID-19, the company introduced at-home experiences – including mixology sessions, fitness classes, and personal coaching. In 2019, the company had ‘blueboards’ redeemed in 50 different countries.

With a cell phone in the hand of nearly every employee, Blueboards are often captured and shared on social networks, with #blueboarding appearing thousands of times on Instagram.

Customers include Abbott Labs, Salesforce, and Toyota. The company was included in the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies in August 2020.

Origin Ventures led a $9.3M Series A financing in Blueboard, with participation from previous investors including Greycroft and Bullpen Capital.

The investment is the most recent in the Digital Native Economy, fueled by the impact of Millennials and Gen Z – a group that now commands more purchasing power in the U.S. economy than any other generation. Research indicates that 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on “experiences” over material goods. Blueboard joins other Origin Ventures companies redefining the future of the workplace, including Fountain, 15Five, Everee, Pronto, Mighty, and Teem.

With the proliferation of remote work and distributed teams, we expect that Blueboard will play an increasingly important role in company culture, delivering uniquely memorable employee experiences.

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