AnyPerk takes Japan's corporate perks SaaS model to US

Silicon Valley startup is growing 30 percent each year, offering a cloud-based platform to manage corporate discounts--a concept new to the U.S. but mature in Japan, says co-founder Taro Fukuyama.

Company perks like merchant discounts can be a great way to retain employees, but small companies don't get to offer their staff such perks because they're too tiny to strike up meaningful deals with merchants. Often, they don't have the HR capacity to manage these deals, either.

Taro Fukuyama, AnyPerk CEO
Taro Fukuyama, AnyPerk CEO and co-founder

One startup in Silicon Valley thinks it's got the problem solved. AnyPerk has struck up deals with a broad range of merchants in the U.S., for US$5 per user per month, and says it can make these deals available to customers' employees--all managed on its site. 

And smaller companies can leverage AnyPerk's huge collected pool of corporate subscribers to access offers from merchants with better deals, which include telco discounts, gym memberships, and coupons for spas and retail outlets.

It's not just small companies jumping onboard. AnyPerk boasts customers like Pinterest and Zappos, which have several hundred employees each, and Nasdaq-listed Informatica, which has over 2,000.

I caught up with the startup's CEO and co-founder, Taro Fukuyama this week, who told me that the idea is pretty fresh in the Western world, but in Japan, it is already mature.

The 25-year-old Japanese engineer pointed to public companies like Benefit One, which participate in Japan's US$300 million to US$400 million market. "It's a very successful business model in Japan but it's nascent here, so we are moving quickly," he said.

Fukuyama in June told Bloomberg the company was growing 30 percent every month, thanks to its unique offering in the U.S., where nearly all of its clients are based. 

AnyPerk's proposition is so intriguing outside of Japan, at least, that just a week ago, it managed to pull Yammer's former head of product at enterprise social network, Drew Dillon, over to head its product team. Dillon wrote a blog post upon joining his new employer, noting that at Microsoft--which acquired Yammer in 2012--he needed the sort of services that AnyPerk provides.

Fukuyama founded the company together with Sunny Tsang two years ago, and together went through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program six months later. Big name investors like Andreessen Horowitz participated in its seed round of US$1.5 million a year ago, and Fukuyama said the startup is gearing up to raise its Series A soon.

"The next challenge for us when we get our Series A is to be the market leader," he said. "The funds will let us move faster to get there. We estimate at least a US$3 billion market in the U.S. for corporate perks."

Fukuyama grew up in Japan, and spent a year in Singapore as an engineer before moving to Silicon Valley to start AnyPerk. The company currently has a staff of 25.