SAN FRANCISCO – SparkPlug, the leading incentive management and wage supplementation platform for frontline workers, today announced an $8 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Lightbank, with participation from Industry Ventures, as well as existing investors TenOneTen Ventures and Jason Calacanis, bringing the company’s total investment raised to $11.5 million. The new capital will be used to fuel SparkPlug’s aggressive growth plans which include key executive hires and investments into data, development, and behavioral science expertise to continue expanding its category-defining platform.
“We’re excited and energized to be closing this round in the most tumultuous fundraising and macroeconomic environment in recent memory,” said Andrew Duffy, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkPlug. “It’s evidence of the critical inflection point brands find themselves in post-pandemic – to survive and thrive they need to re-invest in the resurgence of the physical retail channel. We’re en route to becoming as ubiquitous and essential for influencing brick-and-mortar customer acquisition as Google Ads is for influencing digital customer acquisition.”
Since its inception in 2020, SparkPlug has been on a mission to disrupt the hourly labor market by empowering frontline workers with the ability to earn a portion of the revenue they generate when making trusted, personalized recommendations to customers. As brick-and-mortar retail and in-person dining have bounced back from the pandemic, SparkPlug has scaled rapidly to meet increasing demand for its services, with a 2,310% growth in revenue since closing its initial seed round in February 2021.
“Coming out of the pandemic we’ve seen direct-to-consumer brands hit a major roadblock in expansion, and many leaders are coming to terms with the fact that a physical retail presence is necessary for the long-term health of a brand,” said Jake Levin, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of SparkPlug. “With SparkPlug, these brands are able to harness the power of people to recreate the same curated, personalized customer experience in-store that made them stand out from legacy brands in the first place.”
Working with more than 1,000 US retailers and over 200 brand partners, SparkPlug helps businesses harness the power of frontline employees and influence buying decisions at the point of sale. Using SparkPlug’s platform, retail and restaurant management teams, as well as brands themselves, can create a profit-sharing incentive program or sales contest that integrates directly into an organization’s POS system. From there, employees can enroll into the program via text message and automatically begin earning on every qualifying sale they make.
“To be successful in today’s complex retail landscape, retailers and brands need to have not only a strong omnichannel selling strategy, but also powerful tools that help train, motivate, and retain the people that are essential to the functions of these organizations,” said Matt Sacks, Co-Managing Partner at Lightbank. “The SparkPlug team has created a rare win-win situation for operators and employees: a proven, scalable method for driving revenue at the local level, while fairly rewarding the employees that drive that growth.”
SparkPlug continues to see exponential growth across all the board since its February 2021 seed round as brands and retailers continue to re-invest in physical sales environments. The company has grown its customer base of brands by 930% and retailers by 1,040% in the same time period. During the same time period, SparkPlug has seen a 1,930% increase in monthly supplemental wages distributed to frontline employees, helping properly reward, incentivize, and retain top-performing teams for their influential role in driving brand and retailer revenue.
“The retail landscape continues to evolve rapidly but one thing has become evident in recent years is the importance of having a powerful physical retail presence from the perspective of customer acquisition and product discoverability,” said Minnie Ingersoll, Partner at TenOneTen Ventures. “SparkPlug has given digitally native brands an economically feasible tool for expansion that doesn’t sacrifice fair compensation for the workers that make that growth possible. We’re proud to be partnering with SparkPlug once again to help solve some of retail’s most pressing issues.”
Earlier this year SparkPlug announced an integration with Square, making it the first sales incentive tool for frontline workers in the Square App Marketplace. Visit www.sparkplug.app to learn more and https://squareup.com/us/en/app-marketplace/app/sparkplug for a 30 day free trial of the SparkPlug platform.