April 27, 2022

Ravio hopes its transparent salary data can solve your hiring woes

The startup by ex-Deliveroo managers has just raised $10m in seed funding led by Northzone

When Merten Wulfert joined Deliveroo in 2015 it had just 30 employees. But within a year the business had scaled to 1,000 people across 12 countries. That posed a challenge to the C-suite: how much should we pay our staff?

The scramble to set fair salaries without a reliable benchmark affects companies of all sizes, Wulfert says. In Deliveroo’s case, its process for deciding pay had little grounding in fact. 

“We had no data to help us figure out the right compensation and it was a huge issue. The way we decided how to pay employees was by calling up a few people we knew in each market and saying ‘hey, how much do you think we should pay a salesperson in Singapore, or an operations person in Dubai?’” says Wulfert, who’s the company’s former managing director of Asia Pacific and the Middle East. 

We had no data to help us figure out the right compensation and it was a huge issue

They also made use of reports from compensation benchmarking providers such as Radford and Mercer — but they were often difficult to understand, focused on salaries paid by large corporations and costing “upwards of $5k” per country, he adds. “Really, we were making decisions almost blindly.”

That meant that Deliveroo missed out on key hires by failing, unknowingly, to offer competitive salaries.

A new salary benchmarking system

Things haven’t changed much since — but Wulfert thinks he’s found a solution. His new startup Ravio aims to give companies access to market benchmarks and compensation analytics to help them offer fair packages. Its platform offers data on salary, equity and benefits. 

The startup has been operating in stealth since January but today announced a $10m seed round led by Northzone, which has backed unicorns such as HR tech Personio and mobility giant Tier, with participation from Cherry Ventures and Spark Capital.

Wulfert’s cofounders are Roy Blanga, the former COO of Deliveroo who he worked with for seven years, and Raymond Siems, who cofounded Genie Delivery, a speedy grocery startup acquired by its then competitor Dija.

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Wulfert and Blanga will operate as Ravio’s co-CEOs — a leadership model best adopted when two people have had many years working together, says Wulfert — while Siems will be the company’s chief product and technology officer, a role getting more popular among European startups. 

The 'cold start' problem

To have a big impact, Ravio needs to add users to its platform quickly so it's got enough data to benchmark — something Wulfert describes as a “cold start problem''.

To use Ravio’s platform, companies contribute their data and in return get access to the aggregated data of all participating companies. “It’s kind of like a give to get,” explains Wulfert.

“Today we don’t have enough users, which is why we haven’t launched our analytics part of the product yet,” he adds. “But, starting today, we are going to have a few weeks of collecting data and, once we’ve reached critical mass, we’ll open up the platform.”

Getting up to speed

The question of how to attract and retain quality talent is plaguing tech companies all over the world, which is why it’s crucial for startups to get compensation right.  


But with tech salaries increasing at “really unprecedented rates, sometimes double digits in the matter of a few months”, it can be hard for startups to keep a “pulse on the market”, says Wulfert.

Part of Ravio’s USP is its ability to offer real-time data. Its platform integrates into companies’ HR systems via an API, pulls out the stats and then publishes onto the platform so that startups can see “what’s happening in the market live”.

The company also hopes that building a salary dataset will solve pay inequality. 

The people that negotiate best get paid the most. . . which contributes to gender pay inequality and unfairness inside businesses

“In my opinion, the people that negotiate best get paid the most,” says Wulfert. “There’s research showing that men tend to negotiate more than women, which contributes to gender pay inequality and general unfairness inside businesses.”

Ravio’s platform gives a measure of transparency to the industry: the platform allows startups to look at salaries at the individual, job type and company level and compare them to peers in the market. That gives them no excuse not to pay a fair wage, says Wulfert. 

Improving equity and benefits communication

Ravio’s core benchmarking product will, the company says, always be free. But paid-for features, like tools for performance review cycles and educational files on equity packages and vesting, will be added later so the company can monetise. 

“When we were doing our market research, we discovered that the communication surrounding equity and benefits is a huge problem,” says Wulfert. Companies spend upwards of 20-30% of an employee’s salary on benefits — a huge expense, especially for tech companies. Yet most companies don’t even tell employees what’s on offer.

“They struggle to bring their offers to life. And what I mean by that is that it’s not very powerful to send a candidate an email saying, ‘Here’s your offer, here’s your base salary, your equity’ — it needs to be more visual,” says Wulfert.

Ravio is building a tool where candidates get a link to a webpage where they can see the basic benefits on offer, and view their equity in a chart, which shows how it vests over time. The tool also includes common FAQs around equity and how it works.

“At Deliveroo, we took for granted that we had these offers in place, like insurance, pension contribution and so on, and it kind of ran in the background,” says Wulfert. But companies will have to be more deliberate about showcasing what they offer if they want to snatch good talent.

There’s been some movement here, with companies offering additional benefits like enhanced vacation days, parental leave benefits — especially in the UK where the “statutory requirements are not very generous”, says Wulfert — private medical insurance and, increasingly, fertility benefits.

Ravio will also have to create its own stellar benefits package now that it’s hiring. It has 15 open positions, including on its leadership team, and plans to grow its headcount to between 50 and 80 people by the end of the year. 

Miriam Partington in Berlin

Miriam Partington is a reporter at Sifted. She covers the DACH region and the future of work, and coauthors Startup Life , a weekly newsletter on what it takes to build a startup. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn