There’s nothing sexy about corporate retreats. But BoomPop, a 26-person San Francisco-based team that startup studio Atomic launched in 2020, manages to inject some spice into the long-formula industry. Given what BoomPop is building, we might even see it evolve into more than a way for companies to more easily schedule luxury get-togethers for their remote employees, which is how it exists in large gone right now. Think weddings, family reunions, business conferences and more.
The pitch of the startup is at least convincing. Here’s what we know right now, based on an interview earlier today with the company’s CEO, Healey Cypher. The company was born during the pandemic. Cypher, who is also Atomic’s COO, was determined to keep his colleagues’ spirits up and began devising creative ways to do so, including through virtual Napa Valley wine tastings, magic shows, personalized games, etc. Along the way, it occurred to Cypher and his colleagues at Atomic that there might be a business to create an organized marketplace of virtual experiences. A type of gregarious connector, Cypher lambasted 150 contacts for advertising his services and by the end of last year, he says, 2,500 clients were letting BoomPop plan their virtual team-building exercises.
Fast forward to today, and the company’s viability is even more assured, Cypher says. He says some of his clients have already paid BoomPop to host mini “60s to 70s” get-togethers for them — both virtual and offline. They also have a lot more options to choose from. According to Cypher, BoomPop now has “thousands of options for hotels, meeting spaces, activities, photographers who can create sizzling reels of these events and swag” to give attendees when they return home. them.
BoomPop also manages invitations, creates event pages with agendas, tracks schedule and budget changes, and manages payments. (This creates an escrow account for each event that stops when it’s completed.) In short, there are a lot of mini-companies in one, and it was all built from the ground up, says Cypher, who claims that so far, 4,000 companies have made arrangements for 150,000 of their employees at an average price of $65,000 per event.
Most of those customers — 73%, Cypher says — have never planned or hosted an offsite site before.
All pay a BoomPop-guaranteed flat fee that’s “at least 10% to 20% off the best rates you can buy,” he says.
The numbers seem to validate Cypher’s theory that as companies shrink their physical footprint, as well as the cost associated with outfitting those offices, there’s a lot of “new, shiny, found money” that’s spent in different ways. Most are probably used now to extend the corporate track, but a certain percentage will invariably be used to accommodate a world where employees working from home would benefit from greater social cohesion. (That’s not an act of selflessness. Co-workers are often what make jobs sticky.)
Unsurprisingly, BoomPop isn’t the only one spying on trendlines. In addition to competing with Airbnb Experiences (which is more disjointed), BoomPop is up against internal event planning teams at large corporations and a growing wave of startups, including end-to-end retirement planning startup Flok. , whose founder was a former Apple engineer (the company went through YC last winter) and Marco Experiences, a Los Angeles-based, seed-funded company that similarly designs manner of offsite and other experiences for its customers.
Still, BoomPop would seem to have some advantages over some of these rivals. First, Atomic is a start-up factory whose best-known brands include telehealth company Hims & Hers, which went public via a special-purpose acquisition company early last year, and OpenStore, a company taking over Shopify storefronts.
Atomic hasn’t had a mind-blowing tier release yet, but it’s had a lot of success so far, especially based on how many of its startups are raising follow-on rounds and considering it’s not investing a lot of capital in his creations. BoomPop itself quietly raised a previously unannounced $14 million round in February from ACME Capital and Atomic, as well as Box founder and CEO Aaron Levie.
Meanwhile, Cypher is no slouch either, having co-founded some of Atomic’s companies, as well as founding his own company before teaming up with Atomic. That earlier startup, Oak Labs, made a full-length touchscreen mirror for dressing rooms and was acquired for “tens of millions” of dollars three years after it was founded, according to Cypher, who was once responsible for the retail innovation at eBay.
Indeed, while a recession could certainly crush a company like BoomPop depending on its severity and duration, there is data to support that, if successful, BoomPop could become a big company.
Consider that even with layoffs in the air, offices across the United States are still less than half full, according to recent data from security firm Kastle Systems. And companies are adapting to this change in behavior. According to a July survey of 250 US companies by flexible workspace software provider Robin, 46% of companies plan to reduce their office space in the next year. Of these outfits, 59% said they would reduce their space by more than half.
This should free up capital. If BoomPop’s bet is right, some of it will be spent reuniting employees who are increasingly separated in new ways.
Left to right, BoomPop co-founders (ironically dressed in suits – we’re told they don’t wear suits): Vaibhav Chauhan (revenue/operations); Healey Cypher (CEO); and Blake Hudelson (product/design). Absent from photo: Jack Abraham, CEO of Atomic.
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