Organizing a team building with your company: that may not sound like it Like this difficult. But what if your corporate – like Proximus – has 11,000 employees? How do you find suitable team building(s) for this? How do you maintain an overview of administration, finances and the other matters involved? All questions where SaaS-platform Funkey Bizz offers the answer. In the meantime, it can already count large organizations such as the Cronos Group, RSZ, Nike, Volvo Cars and Group S among its customers.
The Ghent start-up Funkey saw the light of day in 2017 and quickly became the reference in the field of team building with a Booking.com business model combined with a personal approach. Funkey makes the match between suppliers of high-quality, screened team buildings on the one hand, and – small and large – companies that are looking for the ideal team event on the other. With success, because today they have the largest team building offer in Belgium.
“In October 2021 we launched Funkey Bizz, the very first team building management platform in the world for corporates with at least 500 employees, or the equivalent”, says founder and CEO Cobus Van Gheluwe, where CEO stands for ‘Chief Enthusiasm Officer’.
“By that I mean, for example, a company with 100 employees that organizes five team buildings per year. Why did we start with that pioneering story? Because we found that the team building policies of large companies often form an organisational, logistical and administrative tangle that we helped streamline with our platform. Selecting, organizing and following up teambuildings in structured freedom via an online tool is what we see as the future of a teambuilding policy.”
Own house style
“It is often not clear to begin with How specifically organize the teambuilding, so that it ends up in the hands of a Chinese volunteer. Second, they don’t know where to start looking, so they Google ‘team building’. But the offer you then get is so large that it becomes impossible to determine what is suitable and of quality. The result is often an unoriginal team building with little impact. Invoicing is also often a challenge, because there is not only the activity, but also the location, catering, transport, and so on.”
“Our platform addresses all of these challenges: HR managers and other administrators allocate budgets to certain services. All additional costs and services are clearly clustered, preselections can be made – whether or not in consultation with us – from the more than 600 activities based on certain values or objectives, and so on. For example, last year Volvo was very focused on activities around their value ‘connection’.”
“Last but not least customers can fully model the Funkey Bizz platform according to their own house style. The result is team building specifically tailored to the organization or department. In addition, management also gains insight into the fact in this way of the budgets that are allocated annually for team building activities are used, and if so, how.”
“Incidentatlly: the fact that employees also have access to that platform and help select, already gives a boost to that connection. They feel involved, listened to, and invested in enjoyable activities outside of work.”
Conversations at coffee machine
Through his network, Cobus Van Gheluwe came into contact with the Proximus event team, to whom he explained his concept of Funkey Bizz. “Although the product was still in the development phase at the time, the team immediately responded enthusiastically,” he says. “As soon as it was ready, they wanted to get started. Our first customer was therefore immediately one with 11,000 employees (laughs). But that went very smoothly, also because we continued to build on our existing Funkey platform that, as mentioned, customers can adapt themselves to their house style.”
“We linked our Funkey Bizz platform to the Proximus intranet. Employees log in here and then they see exactly what budget they have and what budget they are allowed to spend. This way they can follow the entire team building policy from a central system without major extra developments.”
In any case, the ambitions with Funkey Bizz are great: the company initially wants to expand to the Benelux, optimize its event search engine and develop a new app for participants, to tease events and collect images during the activities, among other things. To help realize all this, the Ghent start-up recently raised one million euros from business angels, ING and PMV.
“We want to grow above all to give as many company employees as possible a unique experience,” says the CEO about that capital round. “Because of corona, the conversations at the coffee machine suddenly stopped, and everyone realized how much those informal moments were missed. We want to bring colleagues closer together again with Funkey Bizz, which is needed more than ever not only after Covid, but also in these economically difficult times.”
In 2022, the budget per participant increased by 66 percent compared to the pandemic years
“That’s why companies increasingly see team building as a policy choice and are very conscious about it: how many times a year do we organize something? What budget do we make available for this? What objectives do we link to it? We also notice this in the figures: last year the budget per participant increased by 66 percent compared to the pandemic years. Let’s not lose sight of that team building in these times of war for talent fit perfectly within one employer branding-story. This is especially important for young people.”
Escape game on pig farm
“In any case, I find it striking – and hardly self-evident – that in these times of inflation and war companies continue to bet on this, even if they know it will have an impact on finances. Because they realize how important connection between employees is if you want to move forward as a company, and how necessary it is to balance working from home with physical meetings, with meaningful, unique experience. Best evidence? Not only do we get today more requests are coming in, we also see that the budgets are increasing.”
Finally, this: during corona, Funkey made a virtue of necessity by investing heavily in online team buildings. They are still on offer today, but are they still being booked now that we are back in ‘the realm of freedom’? “Online activities still make up about ten percent of our offer, but they are indeed rarely booked. It does happen, especially by companies with a great geographical distance between their branches or departments, who want to focus on connection.”
“But today people mainly want to get together physically again, and preferably do something active. This also applies to Funkey, because of course we regularly organize team building events ourselves – practise what you preach. We link the useful to the pleasant: for example, if we want to review the quarterly figures or hold our strategy day, we invariably combine this with testing a team building activity from our range. So we recently got one real life escape game held on an old pig farm, and we have also done sheep herding. You see, a lot is possible”, laughs Cobus Van Gheluwe.