KOOS, an Estonian-based start up, has today announced $4M worth of seed funding led by high profile investors at Plural Platform with participation from investors including LocalGlobe, Tiny.vc and Matt Clifford.
KOOS was launched in Estonia following an angel pre-seed round of $600,000 from an array of the high profile Estonian founders. Following Plural’s $4m investment, KOOS now plans to launch and build its presence in the UK and across Europe.
KOOS, which means ‘together’ and ‘alongside’ in Estonian, was founded earlier this year by serial entrepreneur and former CIO of Estonia Taavi Kotka. Created to serve organisations who are committed to giving a true stake to their contributors, the KOOS stakeholder incentivisation platform provides a brand new way of rewarding and motivating everyone who contributes to a company’s growth and success.
By leveraging KOOS’ equity-like growth programmes without giving away a single share, a company gives their community a reason to advocate for them with fairer rewards, which are paid out only when the company meets the predefined business goal. This makes KOOS programmes ROI-positive by design for the company running them and drives the stakeholder economy by rewarding equitably those who contributed to the corporate success.
Kotka, who led the Estonian government’s world leading policies around digital democracy and e-government for four years, explained: “At KOOS we believe technologies can be used to help build a more equitable society. To be successful you need to deliver great value to all your stakeholders and we have come up with a digital tool that allows businesses to engage and reward their community, widening the circle of people who have access to equity-like incentives which in turn increases the pool of people who will advocate for the business and want it to succeed. We offer companies a new way of achieving their business goals more efficiently, while simultaneously improving their financial and social impact performance.”
Plural’s investment also comes with the support of founders-turned-investors Taavet Hinrikus, former CEO of Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Sten Tamkivi, co-founder of Teleport, both of which will take on active advisory roles to accelerate the roll out of the KOOS platform. The investors join a host of other successful technology founders backing KOOS, including fellow Estonians Markus Villig, founder of Bolt, and Kaarel Kotkas, founder and CEO of Verrif. KOOS is built with support from top legal firm Ellex in emerging tech, adopting a recognised legal framework that complies with EU and UK law.
Sten Tamkivi, adviser and Plural Platform co-founder, said: “Plural wants to invest to help create a more equal society. We believe that broader community ownership leads to more meritocratic systems so that wealth can be distributed based on actual contributions. KOOS has come up with a way to track the support of all stakeholders in a community or business, without having to give away equity. We anticipate that the platform KOOS is building will become an essential building block of many startups, funds and communities including charities and NGOs.”
Ziv Reichert, partner, LocalGlobe, said: “KOOS is spearheading the democratisation of community-led growth by allowing all stakeholders – users, partners, suppliers – of a given business to have the potential to earn their slice of the pie. KOOS enables businesses to easily align their key objectives with community incentives, turning stakeholders into shareholders. To us, this future is inevitable and the winners of the next decade will be those organisations that put their communities at the core of how they operate and grow. With genuinely world-class talent in the team, we are excited to see KOOS powering this shift.”
Since its introduction to the market just four months ago, 27 early adopter paying customers are running 35 programmes – which include start-ups, NGOs, SMEs and larger corporations. KOOS’ Saas pricing model includes an onboarding fee, a monthly retainer, and 1% of all rewards (tokens) created by the programmes on the KOOS platform.
Estonian ride-sharing company Forus Takso recently launched its business with 30% equity allocated to KOOS tokens. For any service consumed on Forus’ platform, 1% will be given as a KOOS token to the client, 1% to the service provider and 1% to contributors.
KOOS customer Toomas Loik, CEO of FleetGuru, said: “Greatness is never built alone. It is built by dedicated talented people and this dedication should never go unrewarded. KOOS has created a new way for companies to build a fairer world and acknowledge people who contribute to your success. We at FleetGuru are beyond excited for having this new option and will use the hell out of it.”