Let's get personal. It's the future of employee perks.

80% of employees we surveyed prefer perks over a higher salary.
Mat Vogels
September 24th, 2018

I've spent my entire professional career in startups. Be it starting my own, working at others, or advising dozens more.

And one of the things that has always been clear (regardless of company size) is that attracting and retaining good people is really (really) hard. It's especially hard for small companies that can't compete in the Salary Wars that larger companies can only afford to play.

But there's hope.

The Survey That Changed Everything

Earlier this year I acquired 10k emails of employees working at companies all across the country (mostly in tech). I bought a new domain just in case the domain would get blacklisted (it didn't!), included in the subject line that their manager wanted some feedback (I do feel bad about that đŸ˜Ŧ), and blasted the emails out.

The survey had only one question: Which would you rather have?

  1. A $130k salary
  2. A $100k salary + Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Spotify, Headspace, a Meal Delivery Service, a Gym Membership, $20/mo to a Charity of Choice, and a $100/mo Experiences Allowance (Concerts, Education, Airbnb, Travel, etc).

I didn't tell them, but the grand total of these perks was ~$6k for the year (assuming $100 for gym membership, and $200 for meal delivery).

I was completely blown away by the results.

Of the nearly three thousand that took the survey, 80% chose the lower salary with all the perks đŸ˜ŗ.


I was so surprised by the results that I had to reach out to people on the list to get more information. Most of the responses had these common themes:

  1. Salary is typically spent on boring things like rent, bills, student loans, insurance, groceries, etc.
  2. Not having to pay directly for the things you love (and already use) is really attractive.

There's definitely some psychology at work here, because an employee would certainly be better off taking the higher salary and could buy these exact same perks 5 times over... But that's not what happens.

By giving employees an allowance that they can only use on products they care about, you're actually giving them much more than the monetary value of the perks themselves (in this case it could be 5x).

Spreading the Word

I wanted to share the results with other companies so that they could start implementing something similar.

I felt like a kid yelling in the streets passing out newspapers. "Extra! Extra! Hear all about it! Employees want personalized perks! You can save money! Make your teams happy!"

The responses I got from companies were almost all like this one:

It turns out a typical reimbursement process is clunky, annoying, and wastes hours and hours of time for HR, admins, finance and accounting teams (Not to mention the employees using the program).

💡 We can make this better. And the idea for Zestful was born.

What if you could give your employees a simple allowance that they could spend on all of their favorite products, all while completely eliminating the reimbursement process 🤔

That's exactly what Zestful does.

And We're Just Getting Started

Zestful is live, and we can't wait to hear what you and your teams think. We also have a lot of amazing features yet to come:

  • Reward employees with bonus allowances.
  • Add specific allowances to specific products (e.g. $200/year that can only be spent on Airbnb).
  • And so much more! We'd love to hear what ideas you have/need/want!

We hope you and your teams love using Zestful, we're so happy you're here.


+ one-time $5 activation

Simple pricing.

Amazing benefits.

Get Started