Workforce Startup 1Huddle Raises $5 Million and Makes Newark Home

1Huddle, the Newark startup that is gamifying employee training and onboarding, received another round of financing in January.

The $5 million round, on top of a previous $3 million fund-raising in 2018, was led by Tribeca Venture Partners (New York), along with Humbition (New York), NRD Capital (Atlanta) and Newark Venture Partners.

1Huddle was in Newark Venture Partners’ first NVP Labs class.

The startup will be staying in Newark, although it will change offices in April: moving out of the NVP Labs coworking space, and going across the street to 550 Broad Street. “We got about 7,000 square feet of space that will allow us to at least double our staff,” 1Huddle founder and CEO Sam Caucci told us.

1Huddle currently has about 20 employees, 17 of whom work at the Newark location. A handful of the employees have even moved to Newark, Caucci said. That’s not bad for a company that started as “Sales Huddle” with two employees at the NVP Labs program.

Caucci said that the company will use the funds from its Series A round for two purposes. The first is to build out the core team, “expanding talent across the board from sales to customer success to marketing,” he said.

“The second use of funds is to accelerate our product road map. We have some really big features that we’re at work on” to make the product even more attractive to enterprise customers. One client is RWJBarnabas Health (West Orange), which is “growing rapidly with us.” Some other New Jersey customers include Novartis (East Hanover) and Audible (Newark), and 1Huddle has many additional customers out of the state.

1Huddle also upskills employees of Madison Square Garden and of some of the country’s most prominent sports teams — including the Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Rams. Caucci noted that the company has been growing rapidly, and wants to keep up that momentum.

The startup appears to be succeeding where many others have failed. It is making mobile gamification into a real business, and customers are staying with it. The complaint against this genre is that games often lack sticking power, and people stop using them over time. This hasn’t happened with 1Huddle.

We asked Caucci about the firm’s secret sauce and how its particular brand of short burst mobile gamification seems to be attracting and retaining customers.

“The easy way to answer it is there are good games and there are bad games. And I think that when we built 1Huddle, we were very disciplined around making sure that the game was competitive. Also, the games were employees first. So many enterprise products miss by making it all about the admin or all about the brand or all about the enterprise,” he said.

“We were very, very disciplined that our product is about empowering the workers. All our product decisions were about the workers. The third part is that, unlike so many gamification products that attempt to motivate employees to do things, our product motivates employees and simultaneously makes them better at their work. I think there’s a difference between using gamification as a ploy to get an employee to complete more activities versus using it to help them perform better at work. So, we are very focused on the performance component.”

Caucci is happy to be growing his company in Newark, and he told us why. “So many startups chase the razzle dazzle of New York or other cities. Newark has allowed us the opportunity to grow responsibly, in a disciplined fashion. And at the same time, we were able to really get connected to our roots. We have a higher purpose for what we’re doing as a brand and as a workforce company.”

He added, “We do a lot of work with the city, and they use our games in their job readiness programs. That’s awesome.” But the city has also done a lot for 1Huddle. “It’s taught us so much about what we’re building. I would have never gotten that being in a WeWork in Times Square. We were able to go into the weeds and see how it was being used, and all that.”

After the experience in Newark, Sales Huddle was rebranded as 1Huddle, he said. “There is only one workforce. Folks at all corners of the workforce impact companies. You can’t be a workforce company today and focus only on one demographic. We wanted to create something that was leveling up everyone. We would have never gotten that being isolated in a shared space in New York.”

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