The Irish start-up that wants to abolish the annual performance review
Frankli’s platform offers a new way to manage and engage employees
Frankli is a Sligo-based start-up that believes it has cracked the often elusive goal of employee engagement, particularly where geographically dispersed teams are concerned. “The original idea came from my experience of managing large groups of people in New Zealand, ” says Noel Dykes, who co-founded the company with Cian Collins in 2017. “I noticed they were losing confidence in traditional methods of managing performance and were looking for more regular feedback on their work and wanted to have an input into the overall direction of the business.”
This led to the creation of Frankli, an easy to use SaaS solution that improves workplace engagement, performance and retention, according to its founders. “We are redefining how modern companies engage, empower and develop their people using a real-time approach to feedback, transparent goal-setting using OKRs (objectives and key results) and insightful data from pulse surveys to help organisations make better decisions. Our goal is to abolish the annual appraisal altogether and help companies move towards a biannual or quarterly review process,” Dykes says.
“Frankli is not a traditional performance and engagement platform in that it has been designed specifically with the distributed team in mind, not least because distributed teams and remote working are going to become an even bigger feature of the working environment in the years ahead,” adds Collins. “Frankli makes it easy for managers to drive engagement and collaboration within their teams, no matter where they are, by giving all employees a better line of sight to individual, team and company goals and to what success looks like in their organisation.”
Both Dykes and Collins are from Sligo. Dykes has a background in software engineering and worked for IBM before spending time in Australia and New Zealand. Collins has spent the last 15 years in HR and product management, most recently in roles with Twitter and Workday.
Frankli’s initial target market is HR professionals working in managed engineering and IT services companies in Ireland and it already has a number of beta clients in this sector. However, its platform is applicable across all sectors and the company will be expanding into other areas when it begins its big push into the UK in Q1 of 2020, followed by expansion into the US – where there is already an appetite for regular appraisal – and other English-speaking markets.
“According to the EU there will be a shortfall of 750,000 people in the ITC sector in the coming years, which means companies are scrambling to fill positions,” Collins says. “But retaining people is also crucial, as the cost of employee churn can be significant. In the IT sector it is not unusual to have high value talent working off-site, so it’s easy for people to become disconnected and to leave. Frankli boosts engagement and makes it more likely they will stay.”
Final details of the charging structure are still being worked out but Collins says it will be based on a year’s contract and the number of employees. “We ask for a year’s commitment because it takes time to set up the system and embed its use. But the evidence so far is that once people start using it, it sticks,” he says.
It took 16 months of intense product and business development to prepare the platform for launch last September and investment in the business to date has been about €250,000, including angel and NDRC funding. Frankli is currently taking part in the NDRC’s Galway-based accelerator at The Portershed. The company employs five people, with two more positions due to be filled by the end of this year and additional hires in development and sales to come in 2020. Frankli is now in the process of closing out its seed round of €750,000 and has winning HPSU status from Enterprise Ireland firmly in its sights.