The founder of WellBox plans to split the startup business into two next year.

Justin Gilchrist founded the Manchester startup in October 2020 when South, his corporate hospitality business, suffered a sharp downturn in revenue due to COVID-19.

The idea for WellBox was to sell healthy snacks to employers with remote employees. “Although it was just a single web page with an email address to order, the service resonated well with large employers who had yet to find a way to tackle the problem of morale, mental wellbeing and motivation for staff being forced to work from home,” the managing director and head of growth tells BusinessCloud.

It has since generated more than £5 million in revenue with ‘healthy net profit’ and boasts a client list which includes more than 65% of the FTSE 100 alongside US companies such as Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Tesla and Amazon.

The financial model works by purchasing products in large volumes from independent British suppliers. Gilchrist says it provides liquidity, revenue and cash flow to these companies, while receiving artisanal brand-name products at a discount. 

“We pass this saving on to our clients, offering our gifts at a deep discount versus competing offerings,” he explains.

“The eCommerce side of the business addresses the immediate need: to find suitable corporate gifts that work regardless of age, diet, gender or religion. We produce the gifts ourselves across two warehouses located in Manchester.

“The SaaS side of the business addresses the mid-long term need, allowing companies to manage data securely, create their own branded gifting portals and manage budgets and access across various levels within the organisation.”

WellBox now employs 27 people full-time with an additional 5-20 temporary agency staff depending on demand.

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Next year will see the separation of the software platform from the gifting business when we launch,” reveals Gilchrist.

“We’ll continue to supply WellBox-branded gifts, but also offer gifts from a range of other suppliers too. Our clients will be able to order anything from flowers and chocolates to branded tech but benefit from having one supplier relationship and one familiar platform to set up the entire order. 

“Incendo will make automating everything from welcome packs for new employees to gift packs for virtual events as easy as creating an email campaign.”

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The business has been self-funded and profitable to date, which Gilchrist says has been a critical part of its success.

“We plan to raise our Series A in 2023 to accelerate plans to grow Incendo,” he adds.

WellBox is among 35 companies accepted onto the eighth edition of Tech Nation’s Upscale. The six-month government-backed programme is designed to support and scale the most promising mid-stage tech companies in the UK, at a critical stage of their growth.

The companies will receive over 60 hours of support at world-class coaching sessions – delivered by over 20 expert scale coaches – attend networking events with key stakeholders, peers, corporates and investors, and have access to a range of online resources, designed to tackle fundamental scaling challenges around culture, talent, international expansion and financing. 

“There are many ways to grow and scale a company, but we’re hoping Upscale will act as a ‘guide rail’, giving us a solid track to do so,” says Gilchrist. “Most importantly, we’re hoping the network of contacts and alumni will provide us with vital UK connections, often difficult to come by when you’re located outside of London.”

Cooper Parry, Cooley and Silicon Valley Bank will be Programme Partners for this year’s Upscale programme.

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