Human Interest

Human Interest focuses on creating an easy system for small businesses to begin offering a 401(k) to employees. It’s geared toward companies trying to get it up-and-running for the first time, as when companies start to mature benefits like that quickly become table stakes, lest they lose those employees to competitors with more robust benefits. It’s also important to get those plans in place early, as employees likely want to begin securing their finances early on.

The focus is on both ends of the employee spectrum, looking to give employers a way to quickly deploy it and also make the experience a little less painful for employees. Even if you’re at a big company that offers a 401(k), it might be buried behind a number of different websites and logins. Human Interest looks to make it easy to check an employee’s balance, as well as help them figure out the best plans and investments given whatever situation they are in. Ease of use is the big target, Lee said.

“The vast majority of our customers are getting a 401(k) for the first time,” Lee said. “Our very first few customers were tech startups in the bay area, and that made a lot of sense for us to start. But we always believed the problem we were tackling was much bigger than bay area startups. In general I think the positive surprise has been seeing interest beyond tech earlier than expected. That was always our hope and belief but it was encouraging when it did start happening, it happened sooner than we expected.”

While Human Interest is solely focused on the 401(k), which is popping up in some unexpected areas like hospitality, there seem to be plenty of opportunities to expand to new products as they start to lock in small businesses as customers. Lee said the startup’s goal is to help them secure a financial future, which the 401(k) is a big part of — but there are obviously other ways to do that as well.

Soma invested in the initial seed round. Human Interest since raised $10m from Wing Ventures at a $44m valuation.

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