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In the Spotlight with Circular Benefits: Partnering with Manchester Digital to bring employee benefits to all

At Manchester Digital, we like to interview our members to find out a bit more about what they do and their work in the Greater Manchester digital and technology sphere. This week we're speaking with Warren Lunt, Co-Founder at Circular Benefits.

Hello, please can you begin by telling us who you are, your role and your background.

My name is Warren Lunt I’m a co-founder of Circular Benefits an exciting employee benefit platform. I’m also a mentor to founders of other exciting ventures.

Straight out of university, many moons ago, I started my own business and built a golf reservation platform connecting 1000s golf course reservations systems with major travel companies. Preceding this I have spent 12+ years mentoring/consulting with founders of start-up businesses and leadership teams in more established companies to setup and scale their exciting opportunities.

Throughout these years and with various entities, I’ve supported businesses across a number of needs ranging from strategic, product and brand consultancy to raising investment/funding and operational efficiency. 

I’m passionate about all aspects of business, ultimately establishing an exciting vision and working with great people to make it a reality.

You have told us you've been through funding before, what are the main challenges you faced in securing funding and how did you overcome them?

Fundraising at all stages is not easy and I have lots of advice for founders on a fundraising journey. That said, based on my own experiences, I can share my learnings when it comes to funding an early-stage business.

Rather than spending too much time chasing investment early on I prefer to do the work to build good foundations and evidence momentum beforehand. Investment brings with it further accountabilities, so I want to be in a position where I’m happy and confident to take them on. 

Every business is different, but before I’d expect an investor to put money into mine, I want to be comfortable that the purpose of the investment is to maximise those foundations and accelerate growth rather than to simply ‘keep the dream alive’ sounds obvious but it’s very easy to fall into a trap and exist in a false sense of security.

I know that if I raise too early the runway clock starts clicking so I’d want to be confident I’ll not need to go back to investors in the not-too-distant future ‘cap in hand’ with limited momentum, there’s no worse feeling than this. 

As part of building great foundations, I want to be sure I’m crystal clear on what value we bring to which audience/s. Audiences aren’t limited to our customers they extend to our suppliers, partners, employees, investors and so on. 

Paramount to success, in business generally but also in raising investment, is to ensure that I can communicate that value and the market opportunity effectively and get everyone excited about being part of the journey and clear on where they can add value.

Can you tell us more about Circular Benefits and what inspired you to start the company? 

Circular Benefits is an employee benefit platform (SaaS). Every business should be able to implement benefits for their employees no matter how small or large.

Richard Rankin, a friend of 10+ years and co-founder of Circular Benefits has operated in Employee Benefits for 25 years he knows everything and everyone there is to know within this exciting space. Having built and exited a previous employee benefit business Richards passion was to create something that was much more inclusive this time around. 

That’s when he connected with me to work with him to establish the product vision and help bring it to life. 

Ultimately, our mission is to make employee benefits more accessible and simpler to implement for businesses of all sizes and not just the larger enterprises. 

The struggle to adequately serve SMEs, as well as the larger enterprises, stems from various factors, including:

  • The high costs to implement and maintain traditional benefit platforms.
  • Limited customisation options to address the diverse needs of smaller organisations.
  • A lack of dedicated support during the onboarding and implementation stages.

Addressing these challenges is imperative to ensure that SMEs can access and leverage employee benefit platforms effectively, enabling them to:

  • Enhance their competitive advantage.
  • Attract and retain top talent.
  • Foster employee well-being and satisfaction.

Ultimately contributing to their long-term success and growth.

In a short period of time, Circular benefits have built and launched a fantastic product that resolves many of the industry’s challenges and we are beginning now to see growing interest from an array of clients, suppliers, distribution partners and investors which is very humbling.

What is your organisation working towards at the moment? 

Our current life stage focuses on building distribution and establishing further momentum before we raise funds to accelerate our growth.

We have attracted several significant distribution partners ranging from PLC businesses to National Franchises where our product can bring significant added value to their clients. We are in the process of agreeing terms and integrating sales and account management processes.

We are self-funded to date but are already talking to interested investors and would welcome discussions with others. It's important to us to find the right support as our business begins to accelerate in this very exciting space.

Naturally we are learning from our clients and their employees every day and these learnings continue to shape our product experience and the value it brings. 

What excites you the most about joining the Manchester Digital community?

Well, we love Manchester and we love Digital so that’s an easy one!!

On a more serious note, we like to connect with anyone that loves business and all the highs and lows it entails like we do. We’d love to share our experiences and learn from those of others and hopefully along the way we can add some value to the community.

Naturally we are keen to introduce our exciting product to businesses and to help build awareness around the value of employee benefits within the community. 

We really love the platform Manchester Digital have created for their members and are looking forward to learning more about how we can maximise it as we progress.

Thank you for having us!!

You can connect with and say hello to Warren here.

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