SAN FRANCISCO — SparkPlug announced $2.5 million in seed funding led by a mix of venture capitalists, angel investors, and business leaders with a reputation for backing winning industry disruptors, bringing their total capital raised to date to $3.5M. SparkPlug was the top-ranked company coming out of the highly competitive LAUNCH accelerator, with seed investors including TenOneTen Ventures, Jason Calacanis, and Argonautic Ventures; co-founders from Shift, Applied Semantics, Social Native, and Factual; and executives at Foursquare, DoorDash, Xerox PARC, and Facebook.
Minnie Ingersoll, a partner at TenOneTen, notes that “this was a no-brainer for us. Brick and mortar retail is an enormous market undergoing massive changes — brands need new, cost-effective avenues for expansion, and retailers are struggling to find an economic model that can support both them and their workers while facing COVID headwinds and historic labor shortages. SparkPlug solves those problems simultaneously by allowing frontline workers to monetize their sales performance on behalf of consumer brands. “
SparkPlug is an employee rewards and campaign management platform designed to increase revenue and retention rates for brick-and-mortar restaurants, retailers, and the consumer goods companies they work with. The founders created SparkPlug so that consumer brands could redirect their marketing dollars from increasingly crowded and costly digital and traditional advertising channels; instead enabling them to offer automated commissions, rewards, and profit-sharing opportunities to retail employees based on sales performance.
SparkPlug strives to enable campaigns that are simple to execute and easily deployed at scale for both consumer brands and their retail partners, with the goal of improving sales for brands, compensation for workers, and revenue for retailers across entire industries.
SparkPlug is leveraging this round of capital to enhance their product offering and expand their engineering and sales teams, ultimately supporting their roll out across multiple consumer product verticals to help address one of the worst labor shortages the U.S. has experienced in 20 years; there are half as many available workers as there are job openings, with the hospitality and retail sectors being hit the hardest.
“The funding comes at a critical time,” says SparkPlug CEO and co-founder Andrew Duffy. “The labor crisis has left restaurants and retail stores struggling to attract and retain enough in-person workers, making it even more difficult to generate the sales they need to survive. The pandemic’s frontline workers are frustrated, fed-up and in need of a better compensation package that makes it worthwhile for them to sign on and stick around. SparkPlug turns both of these challenges into huge opportunities for retailers, restaurants, and consumer brands.”
SparkPlug’s investors are backing the company at the same stage at which they backed now billion-dollar startups, including Uber, SpaceX, RobinHood, Wish, Calm, Desktop Metal, Goodreads, Medium, Thumbtack, Trello, Tumblr, and Zenefits. They’ve picked co-founders Jake Levin and Andrew Duffy, along with the rest of the SparkPlug team, to revolutionize the $20 trillion global physical retail market at the most critical time in its history, all while advancing a mission to help workers everywhere get fair compensation and recognition for their work.
The company is well on the way to that goal — in the past 12 months, brands on SparkPlug have collectively distributed over $500k in supplemental income to frontline employees.
To learn more about SparkPlug’s mission and the founder’s perspective on the challenges facing the retail and restaurant industry, visit https://sparkplug.app/journal.
SparkPlug is an employee rewards and campaign management platform built specifically to increase revenues, retention rates, and marketing ROI for brick-and-mortar restaurants, retailers and the consumer goods companies they work with. Companies that use SparkPlug can incentivize frontline workers and in-store sales staff to influence purchasing outcomes by launching sales-based commission and reward campaigns. Tche SparkPlug platform delivers real-time campaign data to consumer brands and retailers about which products and promotions are performing while providing an additional income stream for workers. Launched in March 2020, SparkPlug has already delivered over $500k in supplemental income to frontline hourly employees, sponsored by the consumer brands whose products those in-store workers put directly into consumers’ hands. Visit sparkplug.app to learn more.