A HR tech company whose platform has attracted a host of blue-chip clients within its first year has raised £2m from Mercia’s EIS funds, the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and private investors.
The funding will enable Stoke-based Huler to further develop its employee experience platform and create at least 12 new jobs in the year ahead. Huler acts as a ‘launchpad’, bringing together different programs, apps and content that employees require within a slick user interface that provides easy access and improves productivity.
The platform, which was launched in January 2022, has already been adopted by clients including Travelodge, Centrica, EE, Qinetiq and St James’s Place Wealth Management as well as the US corporation Dairy Queen.
Huler was developed by Nicky Hoyland, who had previously worked on the HR integration of Orange and T-Mobile following their merger in 2010 to create EE. After being approached by a number of big companies to provide similar assistance, she set up her own consultancy firm advising and developing bespoke IT solutions for clients including Santander, L’Oréal, River Island and BT.
The business was backed from an early stage by serial entrepreneur Gareth Mobley, whose Stoke-based, tech-enabled fenestration company DW3 Products Group was sold to Masonite International in 2018, and who is now Huler’s Executive Chair. Huler currently employs 53 staff.
Nicky Hoyland, CEO of Huler, said:
With organisations working hard to retain talent, improving the employee experience is a real priority. By bringing consumer-grade technology to the workplace, Huler aims to be the world’s most engaging and intuitive employee engagement platform. This is an exciting time for us in our mission to revolutionise the future of work and we are pleased to welcome Mercia on board to support us in our goals.
Kiran Mehta, Investment Manager at Mercia, said:
With flexible working and the war for talent, the market for HRtech is expanding rapidly. Huler simplifies life for employees and enhances engagement and productivity. Nicky and Gareth have built an impressive client base and made inroads into the US market within their first year. The funding will help them drive further growth in the UK and internationally. It’s a pleasure to partner with Nicky, Gareth and the whole Huler team.
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager, at the British Business Bank, said:
The MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund was introduced to invest into SMEs with innovative ideas, supporting growth and longer term investment into the wider Midlands region. Huler is a perfect example to showcase the MEIF’s ongoing commitment to innovative companies, creating new jobs through the funding. The MEIF encourages similar start-up SMEs to consider the funding options available to support their growth.
Alun Rogers, Chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said:
Stoke-on-Trent was recently named the 7th most entrepreneurial city in the UK, and Huler’s employee experience platform is a great example of the kind of innovation we seek to encourage in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area.
We’re excited to see this funding help Huler further build on its success and would encourage other small businesses in the region looking to grow to consider the options available through the MEIF.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is is a collaboration between the British Business Bank and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the West Midlands and East and South East Midlands.
It is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.