Toronto-based corporate catering startup Platterz has rebranded to Thriver following a $43.8 million CAD ($33 million USD) Series B round to support the company’s expansion into new verticals.
The Series B round of equity financing was led by Viola Growth, with participation from new investors Vertex Ventures Israel, Union Tech Ventures, Journey Ventures, and FJ Labs, along with existing investors Aleph and Altair Capital. The funding will be used by Thriver to expand into new geographic markets and verticals, and grow its team.
The new platform extends beyond corporate food solutions to include virtual employee engagement experiences.
Over the past five years, Thriver, while operating as Platterz, processed more than $100 million in food-related orders through its platform. Since being founded in 2015, the company has amassed over 2,000 customers, ranging from small businesses to enterprises. The startup also offers several culture-oriented programs, such as the Treat card, which allows employers to subsidize employees’ daily meals or other office expenses.
Thriver will still provide the same food and beverage products offered by Platterz, including the Treat card and group ordering capabilities, but has added broader culture-oriented programs aimed to drive employee engagement and promote workplace wellness. The new virtual experience offering allows employees to connect through activities, including group fitness, cooking, or mental health sessions.
Eran Henig, co-founder and CEO of Thriver, told BetaKit that when Platterz was founded, the founders already had a vision of being a “culture hub” focused on four specific verticals: education, wellness, food and beverage, and team-building. Henig said the company focused on food and beverage as it was the most “lucrative” at the time.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced most offices to close in favour of remote work, has currently diminished the profitability of corporate catering. Thriver co-founder and president Yishay Waxman told BetaKit the company saw a “dip” in revenues in the second quarter of the year, causing the startup to lay off 75 employees, or 50 percent of its 150-person workforce.
A spokesperson for Thriver told BetaKit the layoffs mainly impacted non-Canadian operations, including offices in Israel and the US, as the startup centralized its operations and shifted to serving customers remotely.
The layoffs did not affect R&D and marketing, and the company said it is now hiring aggressively in those departments. Thriver took advantage of the federal government’s 75 percent emergency wage subsidy; however, it appears the startup is not planning to rehire those who were laid off.
“We went raising the round to expand to the other pillars and double down on R&D and marketing specifically,” Henig added. “That was the goal of raising the round, because we’ve seen business [pick] up really rapidly over 2019 and anticipate, of course, a lot of the ramping up to start happening again very soon.”
Although the pandemic has forced most Canadian tech companies to change their 2020 plans, it also accelerated plans Thriver already had in the works. Last year, the startup began piloting several wellness programs with clients in New York and Los Angeles, which Henig said were successful. The startup planned to expand into the three other verticals in 2021, but Henig said the company chose to accelerate these plans once COVID-19 hit.
“Suddenly, our clients were calling us, asking us to be able to provide them with solutions for engaging with [their] employee base, and [trying] to find ways to work with them and to be a better fit for the current workplace,” Henig said.
Thriver said the new platform was designed to support the adoption and implementation of culture-focused programs that can work to support the current era of remote work as well as traditional office environments. That means if or when workers do return to the office, Thriver will be still available to those companies.
Waxman disagreed that Thriver’s staff reduction, rebrand, and rapid product rollout in the face of COVID-19 constituted a pivot for the company, however.
“Some people think if there’s a rebrand, you’re pivoting. We’re not, we’re just expanding our offering,” he said.
Waxman added that following the raise, the startup would be focused on expanding to the European market, noting that offering a virtual experience means Thriver does not have to worry about expanding its operations to new cities.
Image courtesy Thriver.