Fixing workplace misconduct reporting is a mission that stunned the London-based vault platform Backing from Google’s AI-focused fund, Gradient Ventures, which is a major investor in the $8.2 million Series A announced today.
Other investors joining the round are Illuminate Financial as well as existing investors including Kindred Capital and Angular Ventures. Its $4.2M seed round was closed back in 2019.
Vault sells a suite of SaaS tools to enterprise-sized or large/scale-up companies to proactively manage internal ethics and integrity issues. Plus tools, data, and analytics are baked into the platform for employees to report issues – so it can support customers’ comprehensive audit and compliance needs.
In an interview with Nerdshala, co-founder and CEO Leader Meadw said that in line with the broader mission to upgrade legacy reporting tools such as hotlines provided to employees to try to surface workplace risks related to the conduct. Along with being completely on board with bullying and harassment; racism and sexism; or bribery, corruption and fraud), as you might expect Gradient Ventures was interested in the potential of implementing AI to further enhance Vault’s SaaS-based reporting tools.
A feature of its current platform, called ‘GoTogether’, is an escrow system that allows users to submit malpractice reports to relevant internal bodies, but only if they are the same person to report. People are not the first or only ones – the idea is to help encourage employees (or outsiders, where open reporting is enabled) to report concerns they might otherwise hesitate for a variety of reasons .
Vault now wants to expand the capabilities of the feature so that it can be used to proactively surface problematic conduct that may not only pertain to a particular individual but can also affect an entire team or division – The type of activity being reported, using natural language processing to help spot patterns and potential linkages.
“Our algorithms today match on the identity of an alleged perpetrator. Although many incidents that people may report are not related to a specific individual – they can be more descriptive,” explains Meadow. If you are facing some irregularities in accounting in your department, for example, and you suspect that some kind of corruption or fraudulent activity is taking place.”
“If you think of the greatest [workplace misconduct] The disasters and crises that have occurred in recent years—the story of Dieselgate at Volkswagen, what happened Boeing — The common denominator in all these cases is that there has been some sort of serious ethical violation or failure, which was noticed by many people within the organization in remote parts of the organization. And the dots weren’t connected,” she continues. “So the capability we’re currently building and enhancing—which we already have with GoTogether—is that of connecting to these repeating events and taking human input. Ability to connect and be able to understand and read. And connect the dots when recurrent incidents are happening – alerting companies’ boards that there’s a certain ‘hot pocket’ they need to go and investigate.
“It will save companies from big risks, big costs, and can essentially prevent huge losses. Not only financial but reputational, sometimes it even harms human life… That’s where we reach. and what we want to achieve.”
It begs the question of how secure Vault’s Go Together feature is—how easily it can be copied—given that you can’t patent an idea. So baking in AI smarts could be a way to layer extra sophistication to try to maintain a competitive edge.
“There’s some very sophisticated, unique technology in the backend so we’re continuing to invest in this side of our technology. And the investment in Gradient and what we’re getting unique now from Google is just that element and our business.” Will enhance that side,” says Meidaw when we ask about defensiveness.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Anna Patterson, Founder and Managing Partner of Gradient Ventures, said: “arch Tackles a critical location with an innovative and timely solution. archThe app provides organizations with a data-driven approach to tackle challenges such as business fraud, bribery or corruption incidents, security failures and malpractices. Given their impressive team, technology, and number of clients, they are poised to improve the modern workplace.”
The London-based startup was only founded in 2018 – and while it is most eager to talk about disrupting the legacy hotline system, which provides only a linear and passive conduit for malpractice reporting, many in the same space Other startups are underway. Examples include the likes of LA-based AllVoices, YC Supported Whisply, Hootsworth and Spot to name a few.
Competition is likely to continue to increase as regulatory requirements around workplace reporting continue to grow.
The upcoming EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is a piece of regulation Vault expects to increase demand for smart compliance solutions – aka “TrustTech”, as it wants to badge it – as it includes reporting to companies with more than 250 employees. solution will be required. By the end of December 2021, encouraging European businesses to cast around for equipment to help reduce their malpractice-related risk.
She also suggests that a platform solution can help bridge the gap between the various internal teams that may need to be involved in addressing complaints, as well as chat anonymously with the original reporter. can help speed up internal investigations by providing
Meadaw also flagged the increasing attention US regulators are placing on reporting workplace misconduct — noting the recent massive awards by the SEC to outside whistleblowers, such as $28 A whistleblower was paid earlier this year (in connection with the Panasonic Avionics Consultant corruption case).
She also argues that the increasing number of companies going public (such as through the SPAC trend, where regulatory scrutiny would have been reduced prior to the ‘blank check’ IPO) generally increases reporting requirements – meaning, again. Of course, more companies will need a system operated by a third party in place that allows anonymous and non-anonymous reporting. (And, well, we can only speculate that companies going public by SPAC may have a greater need for malpractice reporting services, companies that choose a more traditional and scrupulous route to market…)
“A few years ago I had to convince investors that this category is indeed a category – and fast forward to 2021, congratulations! We have a market here. It’s a growing category and there’s competition in this area.” ,” says Meadow.
“What Vault really sets apart is that we haven’t focused on digitizing the old legacy process. We focused on leveraging technology to empower more malpractices internally and more effectively for employees. To talk to them in ways that weren’t available to them before. GoTogether is really unique as well as the things we’re doing on the operational side for a company – like collaboration.”
She gives an example of how a customer in the oil and gas sector configured the platform to use an anonymous chat feature in Vault’s app to provide employees with a secure direct-line to company leadership.
“They are using anonymous chat which the app enables people to have a direct line to leadership,” she says. “It’s incredible. It’s this kind of progress, a forward-looking way to use this tool.”
Meadow says Vault has about 30 customers at this stage, split between the US and the European Union – its core regions.
And while its platform is geared towards enterprises, its initial customer base includes a fair number of scale-ups — the list includes familiar names like Lemonade, Airbnb, Kawak, G2 and OVO Energy.
Scale ups can be the natural clientele for this kind of product, which can be brought on by the enormous pressure on company culture, as startups switch to expanding headcount very rapidly, per Meadow.
“They are early adopters and they are also very sensitive to such incidents” [workplace] As scams it can affect them a lot… as well as the fact that when a company goes through hyper growth – and usually you see hyper growth in tech companies compared to any other type of sector – Hyper growth happens when you really, as management, as leadership, it’s really important to protect your culture,” she suggests.
“Because it changes so quickly and all kinds of things can happen from these changes – and it’s really important that the leadership is on top of that. So when a company goes through hyper growth it’s time for them to incorporate tools like Vault. As well as the fact that every company thinking about an IPO in the coming months or years would do very well to implement a tool like Vault.
Vault is also set to expand its team after this Series A close, as it moves towards the next phase of growth for its own business. Possibly, though, it’s nothing short of a malpractice reporting solution.