MotoRefi was founded in 2017 to allow consumers to refinance their car loans at significant savings from traditional auto dealer loans. The value proposition —dropping car payments by about $100 per month through an easy to use online tool— attracted investors, customers and new employees. But its intrinsic value hit a new high during the economic volatility brought on by COVID-19.
In October, 2019 Caribou (formerly branded as MotoRefi) had about 30 employees and plans for significant growth. As a tech-based business, it recognized the value of automation to support scale. Company leaders set out to find an HR platform to underpin its growth aspirations.
Caribou selected Zenefits. Four months later, it closed a nearly $9 million dollar series A investment, and then hired its first People and Culture leader, Amy Dalebout.
Amy is a two-time Zenefits user. The tool was in place at FiscalNote where she managed people operations during its “big ride” from 50-400 employees a few years earlier. “I was happy that Zenefits is at Caribou. We’re in a fortunate position to be growing right now, and Zenefits helps us do it quickly and remotely. I am logged into Zenefits every single day.”
With Zenefits, things are simple that used to be hard.
VP, People and Culture
Saving Cash-Strapped Americans Real Money
Caribou helps Americans save money: quickly.
“Even though other auto refinancing companies exist, many people don’t know they can refinance their cars. Other businesses are paper based, offline and cumbersome. Caribou specializes in the online experience, and can show someone how much they’d save in 90 seconds,” says Amy.
“With refinanced loans saving consumers on average about $100 a month, this is real money. During COVID-19, we’ve had customers share their personal stories of how we are impacting their lives as they worry about economic insecurity.”
That impact and the “heart and soul” company ethos —along with its reimagined technology approach to refinancing — is enticing to the company’s employees.
“Seeing our customers successful makes us all successful.”
Remote, but not removed.
Since March of 2020, that success is coming from a team that is connected digitally. In fact, Amy joined Caribou on what turned out to be the company’s first fully-remote working day in March. So she quickly got to work on programs to make remote work, work better.
A few fundamentals she’s built include:
- Implementing an Applicant Tracking System
- Online documentation for new hires (that used to be stored in people’s heads).
- Wellbeing resources, including five free hours of confidential EAP counseling per employee
- Monthly “Perks Package.” For example, the company’s product hackathon was May 4th. Amy themed the May package around the Star Wars pun: “May the Fourth Be With You” complete with t-shirts and light sabers and snacks.
“For me, the most complicated part of every business is people. But things that really matter are the same: we all want to be respected, to grow, to be valued. This manifests in a myriad of ways through smart people operations. And done well, you will be a better company and deliver better products to the world, while bringing more meaning to people’s lives. It’s deeply fulfilling to me to be in a coaching role, mentoring others, and watching their success.
“People operations today are so much more impactful than traditional HR. But it is also so wide-ranging that you could run from priority to priority. This is especially true for smaller businesses with limited resources. This is where technology really matters.
When she started at Caribou in 2020, Amy was the People Operations department. “But I never really thought of myself as solo. I engaged deeply with vendors, like Zenefits, as they are an extension of me. They do so much to help us stay lean and do right by our team.” Two years later, the Caribou POPS team grew to more than a dozen to support a Caribou team that had exploded in size..
In fact, since Amy joined Caribou with prior Zenefits experience, she started optimizing how the company used the product from the time she got her offer letter and realized MotoRefi hadn’t turned on the benefits preview. “This was the first time I’d been hired through Zenefits, which was great.”
Amy quickly put all of the power of the platform to work. The company has grown from 30 to 450 employees in the 2.5 years since it adopted Zenefits.
Caribou uses Zenefits for: offer letters, employee onboarding, background checks, data reporting, payroll, time & attendance, time off, benefits open enrollment, ACA Compliance. “It is safe to say we are power users,” adds Amy.
“One of the best things about Zenefits is how much customer feedback they accept and how the product has continued to evolve. In fact, Zenefits has been very responsive to adding in features to help small businesses during the coronavirus situation. They’ve added new time-off settings to match the CARES act legislation, and built out reporting functions to simplify applying for PPP loans.”
Amy also participated heavily in the Zenefits online customer community, ClubZen, and the Customer Advisory Board. Her input has since been captured in Zenefits WSJ best-selling book: People Operations.
“I joined to provide regular product input and feedback as a power user. But during this time, it’s been especially helpful for me to also participate in the COVID-19 discussion happening in the forum.”
“People Operations leaders absorb a lot of emotion for the company; but who do they talk to? This is another reason why the ClubZen community is helpful.”