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An employee wellbeing benefits platform headquartered in London has set an ambitious target of reaching a million people by 2025.

pirkx, founded by CEO Stella Smith, is aimed at the gig economy, a sector which now employs more than 4m people in the UK alone and does not generally offer many employee benefits.

For £4.50 a month, it gives people access to retail, entertainment and dining discounts, as well as 24/7 access to a doctor, a confidential counselling service, discounted gym membership and other benefits such as skills workshops.

The startup has now raised £3 million pre-Series A investment from NoBa Capital, Joyance Partners, Love Ventures, 1818 Venture Capital, Vala Capital and Capital Pilot Boost Fund.

It takes total funding since it launched in 2019 to £4m.

“Our mission is to make affordable wellbeing benefits accessible to all and these funds will help us reach our ambitious goal of a million people across the world by 2025,” wrote Smith in a blog post.

“When we launched pirkx back in 2019 we knew we were on to something special. That conviction that we’re fixing a far-reaching and unjustly ignored societal issue has never once waned.”

The company is chaired by former Google UK MD Dan Cobley, who is also the co-founder of ClearScore and SalaryFinance, as well as a managing partner for FinTech at Blenheim Chalcot.

Smith previously founded several small businesses, supported by a network of freelance and contract workers.

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“I know from first-hand experience that there were simply no wellbeing packages I could offer to them that came close to the expensive private healthcare and other benefits I enjoyed while working at large corporates with big budgets,” she continued.

“This issue doesn’t stop at the so-called ‘gig economy’. In fact, a shocking 91% of the 3.2 billion workers globally don’t have access to a workplace wellness programme at all. Self-employed, small business employees, and indeed contractors at big companies, are all chronically underserved.

“We believe that every worker, no matter their profession or status, should have access to the best healthcare and wellbeing provisions for themselves and their families. But for this to become a reality, it simply has to be affordable and flexible.”

She added: “The last few years have been incredibly tough for so many of us, and with the current cost of living crisis taking its toll on day-to-day living once again, there isn’t much sign of a let-up. 

“I believe passionately that freelance and contract workers in hospitality and other service industries who suffered so much at the hands of the pandemic, along with small businesses desperately trying to stay afloat in extremely difficult economic circumstances, deserve a much-needed break.

“This funding is validation that there is a real need to provide this support and make wellbeing benefits available to all. My team and I are proud to be playing our part in making this happen.”

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