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Turkish female founder who underwent depression grabs $2.2M for her employee wellbeing platform

Wellbees CEO Melis Abacioğlu
Image credits: Wellbees

Wellbees, the new & next-gen employee wellbeing platform that’s in use in more than 40 companies, by 100,000+ employees across 17 countries has just recently received $2.2M in Seed investment. The company is interestingly 62% women-led and was bootstrapped since its founding 10 years ago, until recently. The investment follows Wellbees’ recent launch into the UK, earlier this year.

This investment was led by 212, the Luxembourg based VC investing in growth-stage tech companies across the CEE (Central & Eastern Europe) and MENA regions. The other MENA and UK-based VCs who participated in the investment include Mindshift Capital (backing women-led companies), Qatar’s first private angel fund Doha Tech Angels, Assist Ventures (whose team includes Tom James known for being Zendesk’s first angel investor) and Sarus Select Capital (the early-stage investor focused on scalable B2B technology start-ups).

Investing in HR & workers’ welfare

Corporate investments in HRtech picked up pace during the pandemic, in an attempt by organisations to support remote & hybrid work while reducing spend on traditional human resources management. 2021 saw $14B invested globally into employee benefits and well-being. According to predictions by Deloitte Insights 2021, by 2040 two thirds of all health spending will be on wellbeing. The employee wellbeing market is already worth $60B, fueled by growing demand in this space.

Wellbees is partnering with corporate HR teams executing its holistic approach in offering its HR services, taking advantage of this rising demand. The new generation employee wellbeing platform is a B2B SaaS developed for employees. It improves employee wellbeing holistically offering company culture-specific events and content covering eight core wellbeing areas (mental, physical, spiritual, social, environmental, occupational, intellectual and financial wellbeing).

The platform improves employees’ well-being through expert support, seminars, content,  challenges and activities customised specifically for each company offering each individual a personalised wellbeing experience with its AI algorithm. By looking at an employee’s entire employment cycle experience, Wellbees maps employee journeys specific to a company and then implements wellbeing practices that solve and contribute to a company’s specific lifecycle and its workforce.

Led by a female serial entrepreneur

The HRtech was founded in 2012 by Kerem Gönülkırmaz, Melis Abacıoğlu & Seçil Gürcüoğlu Mercan, having its headquarters in Istanbul. Melis Abacıoğlu,its CEO is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded the SWEATers App, a digital platform which eases doing sports together consequently enabling the sharing of active experiences as well as Hareket Candir, a company inspiring people to exercise.

Prior to founding Wellbees, she reportedly experienced depression for around a month and was unsure of where to begin to address this issue. Melis, appreciating the positive impact on her feeling resulting from exercise, resorted to selling pedometers as her own “cure” to this state that many more felt. Her first clients weren’t however interested in pedometers but accepted a corporate marathon. As she kept on knocking more doors, it became evident that clients needed coaching sessions, on-site psychologists and dietitians. This was the start of Wellbees.

According to data by Wellbees, employees using its platform are 50% less likely to leave their jobs, tending to be 12% happier after six months of using Wellbees. With this investment, Wellbees hopes to increase its effectiveness, especially in the UK and MENA markets. Moreover, the female-led HRtech plans to establish a Data Science Team, to more efficiently understand and analyse the impact on employee wellbeing. The data team will also help in building algorithms that make personalised wellbeing suggestions to individuals, providing more sophisticated choices and recognising previously hidden patterns. These algorithms will also offer HR departments more ideas and recommendations around their employee wellbeing trends.

By also building local ground teams, Wellbees is also strengthening its value proposition and expects to have dedicated, native language customer success teams alongside marketing and sales team members to support the company’s growth. Wellbees’ HR tech solution offers a one-stop-shop experience for HR professionals and employees alike, enabling employees to gain better habits and therefore contribute to better their lives.

“We will continue to grow, especially in the UK, where we recently opened our first international office. Establishing a Data Science Team means we will be able to measure and scientifically improve the impact we have on the lives and cultures of employees.  We will be able to enhance the experience we offer our customers and ultimately present individual users with their individual ‘formula for happiness,” explained Wellbees’ co-Founder Melis Abacioğlu.

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