Spotlight: Bonusly Offers a New Way for Businesses to Reward Employees


Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

Rewarding employees can be a great way to keep your whole team engaged and happy at work. But what if there was a better way to actually hand out those rewards? That’s exactly what Bonusly aims to provide.

The company has created a system to allow team members to recognize great work from their co-workers. Read more about the company and its offering in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

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What the Business Does

Provides a new way for companies to recognize great work from employees.



Co-founder and CEO Raphael Crawford-Marks told Small Business Trends, “Bonusly is a rapidly scaling start-up that empowers companies to reward and motivate employees through peer-to-peer micro-bonuses, so teams can recognize and publicly praise their colleagues for work they’ve done well. When Bob in accounting stays late to help meet a deadline, or Rick in sales closes a major deal, anyone within the company can recognize Bob and Rick with Bonusly points. As points accrue, they can be redeemed for real-life rewards such as cash, gifts cards to Sephora, Amazon or Home Depot, or even charitable donations. Bonusly seamlessly integrates with the leading HR and communication tools like Slack, Basecamp, BambooHR, Namely and ADP. Currently used by more than 1,000 companies including Hulu, Gilt and Chobani, Bonusly improves employee lifetime value by improving learning and development, increasing motivation and job satisfaction, and ultimately retaining employees for longer.”

Business Niche

Being fun and easy to use.

Aside from the various integrations and and analytical features, the platform makes the process of awarding bonuses fun for all involved, so they’ll be likely to actually use it.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly is not a chore. You never have to send out a nag email reminding employees to use it. Employees find it fun, delightful, and habit-forming. You can enrich bonuses with images, emojis, and Gifs.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of frustration at other startups.

Crawford-Marks says, “[Co-founder] John Quinn and I were both veterans of startups large and small, and had been frustrated by a lack of recognition, and also by companies that asked only managers to dole out recognition and spot bonuses. We knew peers had the best vantage point to identify and celebrate contributions and accomplishments, yet there was no way to easily empower employees to do so. So we decided to build Bonusly.”

Biggest Win

Securing a major round of funding in 2014.

Crawford-Marks explains, “The company was bootstrapped up until that point, until one of Bonusly’s paying customers introduced us to the investor at FirstMark. That introduction was significant, since it opened the door to a meeting and eventually landed us $1M in seed funding. The customer? InVision, who is one of Bonusly’s strongest supporters to this day.”

Biggest Risk

Moving away from a major startup hub.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and eventually moved the company to Boulder, CO in 2016 with some employees working remotely from various cities around the U.S. It was a risk from a sales and marketing perspective since the largest deals are typically done on the coasts. Also, the Bay Area is the center of the tech industry, where startups have unfettered access to media, investors and talent. However, the move has proven to be hugely beneficial, opening the door to new tech and design talent in Boulder at a more affordable cost. It has also nurtured the team’s work/life balance, who enjoy living more healthy, active lifestyles.”

Lesson Learned

Have a plan for charging customers early on.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly launched as a free service John and I were curious to see take off. It quickly gained traction as the go-to peer to peer rewards system and we then realized, it’s difficult to monetize something people have been getting for free. The company adapted by offering a freemium pricing plan, where teams up to 8 have free access and larger teams scale up from there.”

Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring a full-time marketer.

Crawford-Marks says, “This person would focus on driving both new and expansion demand through integrated and automated marketing, targeting SMBs and mid-market enterprises.”

Favorite Quote

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” —Winston Churchill

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Bonusly, Raphael Crawford-Marks

3 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    This will encourage positive reinforcement not just from the superior but also among colleagues. I love it.

  2. Having some regular employee rewards can do wonders to your employees’ productivity. And it may not be money. It can be a simple appreciation.

  3. This is great. I think that this a great tool to use in the office so that I can spread positivity to my employees.

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