Matrix Partners, Relay Ventures fund TribeHR's Boston invasion

Wednesday Aug 1, 2012 by Brendan Lynch - Contributor, VentureFizz

Canadian human resources cloud software startup TribeHR has landed $2.5 million in funding from Relay Ventures and Waltham's Matrix Partners, cash TribeHR plans to use to "aggressively" expand its Boston-area marketing and sales operation.  

CEO Joseph Fung called TribeHR, founded in 2009 in Waterloo, Ontario, the latest in a string of Canadian HR companies like Taleo, Rypple and Dayforce.

The 13 employee startup has two employees, its vice presidents of marketing and inside sales, working out of Matrix's office in Waltham. Next month, the company plans to move into its own office in the Boston/Cambridge area. TribeHR will keep its development operation in Waterloo, in order to take advantage of talent from the University of Waterloo, which is also Fung's alma mater. But it plans to grow its Boston operation aggressively, Fung said.

Fung spends a week out of every month in Boston. Aside from Matrix, which invested $1 million in TribeHR last year, the Boston area offers a deep talent pool and a similar culture to Southwest Ontario, a close-knit tech community with strong business-to-business experience, Fung said.

"Heck, over here we even have a Burlington and a Cambridge," he said.

TribeHR has 10,000 employee users at "hundreds" of companies, mostly small and medium businesses with under 500 employees. The startup charges companies between $2 and $10 per month per user.

"People say SMBs are an easy market because there are so many of them," Fung said. "But at a smaller company, you know everyone, so you really want them to have a great experience with the product."

And while TribeHR sells to HR departments and company owners, Fung said the most important user is the employee. The funding will also be used to build social and mobile features for the company's service, which, among other things, lets companies recruit socially and track hiring, and employees book days off for vacation or illness.

"When you wake up sick in the morning, you don't want to have to log in to a web portal," Fung said. "You just want to pick up your phone and do it."

Toronto-based Relay handles almost exclusively mobile investments, while Matrix general partner David Skok has experience with cloud and Software as a Service companies.

"The two things together are a really great combination," Fung said.

Brendan Lynch is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter (@bmolynch) by clicking here.

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