Asperity Employee Benefits : The first 5 years
by Alex Bailey
Before starting Asperity, Glenn ran N1 Creative, the design agency he started in 2001. Five years down the line, Glenn was looking for a new business idea when the inspiration for Asperity fell in his lap. The BBC had commissioned N1 to redesign their internal employee discounts programme, and in doing so opened up an entire marketplace of unexplored territory. A preliminary foray revealed a lack of competition, and Glenn realised that he could use his marketing expertise to turn a previously unambitious product into a successful business.
Together with Chris Whitcome, the founder of one of the first consumer Cashback websites LineMyPocket.co.uk, the two developed the very first version of their employee discounts product; “Club Cashback” for the BBC. From day one, this new technology offered savings at top high street names, a range never before seen in the employee discounts market. The site was an immediate hit, and paved the way for the subsequent product development that led to Asperity’s inception.
Asperity launched to market on 8th January 2007 with three blue-chip clients already on board, Glenn having persuaded British Airways and Next to take up Reward Gateway for free. Glenn tactically staggered the PR about the Next, BA and BBC launches over several months to ensure maximum exposure. Employee discounts at the time were broadly deemed irrelevant and uninspiring by employers and employees, so when Glenn introduced the supplier-independent model that passed on 100% of commission earned from retailers, Asperity gained the immediate upper hand.
His vision was that if employees got better deals they would use the programme frequently, leading to high engagement and happy clients for Asperity - clients that would renew contracts and pay to have Reward Gateway in place for their employees. It was a gamble, but Glenn knew that an employer’s investment of a few pounds per head per year was still trivial compared to the hundreds of pounds saved by employees. Following the acquisition of Bringme, a failing discount scheme owned by Lloyds TSB Bank, Asperity ended 2007 with 60 happy clients and money in the bank.
From there the company blossomed, and by continuing to make product innovations to stay ahead of the competition, quickly positioned itself as market-leader. Glenn assembled a sound team and the number of staff grew rapidly as previously out-sourced operations like Voucher Operations were brought in-house. In 2009 Asperity went international by developing Reward Gateway into a multi-currency platform. By this point, employee discounts were just the basis for a range of benefits that employers could choose to take up as part of their package, including fully integrated tax-efficient benefits such as Childcare Vouchers and Cycle to Work.
Since then, Asperity has become a global operation with offices in Dublin, Sydney, London, Birmingham and New York. It has 650+ clients globally with a total employee population of over 1.5 million. Showing no signs of slowing down, we can only wonder - what does the future hold next?