citybiz+ Fringe Raises $17 Million to Advance Perks Program

Fringe, a Richmond, Va., firm that helps companies create custom perks and benefits programs for employees, has raised $17 million in a funding round led by Chicago’s Origin Ventures and Charlottesville, Va.-based Felton Group.

The firm’s other investors include CIT’s Virginia Founders Fund; Anchormarck Holdings, of Charlottesville, Va.; Washington, D.C.-based Revolution; San Francisco-based Sovereign’s Capital; and Iowa’s ManchesterStory Group. Fringe has so far raised $21 million in venture capital.

“When we started Fringe in 2018, we never could have imagined how a global pandemic would entirely transform the way we work,” CEO Jordan Peace, who joined hands with college buddies to start Fringe, said in a post on LinkedIn after the funding round. “Two years later, whether your people are in office, remote, or hybrid — one thing is certain: workplace perks and benefits will never be the same,” he added.

Finance Focus

Fringe has built a diverse, discounted marketplace of about 450 vendors offering varied services, such as fitness, nutrition, streaming services and travel, alongside a platform that allows companies and their employees to pick and choose the perks they want. It charges a monthly fee of up to $5 for each employee participating in the program. The marketplace vendors include Disney, Uber and Spotify, while Fringe’s over 200 customers include edtech firm Chegg, insurer Lemonade and Target’s delivery service Shipt.

Finance has been Jordan Peace’s focus right from college. He started with financial planning and insurance, and even today runs his other startup, Greenhouse Money, which helps individuals make investment and financial choices. Peace says he created Fringe when he realized that “most people — especially millennials — simply don’t understand their companies’ corporate benefits.” Fringe today offers companies a brand new way to create perks, “by letting their employees decide what ways they are most excited about being acknowledged for their work.”

In four years, Fringe has brought on board nearly 500 vendors and 200 customers, and has operations in nearly 60 countries. Peace says meals and experiences like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Airbnb consistently rank as the most popular apps, “showing that people crave both convenience and adventure two years into the pandemic.”

Industry data validates Fringe’s focus, as it becomes clearer that lifestyle perks and benefits are not a temporary ​“Band-Aid” solution caused by the coronavirus pandemic but a lasting industry trend, Peace contends. In 2021, venture investors more than tripled their bets on HR tech startups, to more than $12 billion, Peace said, citing Pitch Book data. “That trend continued in 2022, with megadeals ensuring more than $1.4 billion was invested in the sector in the first two months alone,” he said.

Hedge Fund Backer

Fringe-backer Felton Group, based in Charlottesville, Va., is the family office of hedge fund manager Jaffray Woodriff, who cofounded and ran Quantitative Investment Management (QIM), one of the world’s biggest Managed Futures Funds. It has made about 13 portfolio investments, and three exits — codeSpark, MightyHive, and Besides Fringe and Floreo, it has invested in Pearl Certification this year. Woodriff is credited with a donation of $120 million to the University of Virginia, the biggest in its 200-year history.