The Importance of Authenticity: Our Investment in Whispli
Today we’re excited to be announcing we’ve backed Whispli — the platform that makes it safe for whistleblowers and victims of harassment to speak up.
Off the back of the #metoo movement and recent whistleblower-led scandals such as dieselgate & wikileaks, its become clear that harassment and unethical behaviour is still rife across almost all industries.
Whispli’s mission is to give individuals a safe space to to report harassment, fraud or other unethical behaviour, without any fear of incrimination. They give people safe and anonymous channels to speak up to their organisations.
Most organisations are terrible at encouraging people to speak up. Reporting structures are usually set up from the top-down; they get shaped by management and reflect their own positions of power and privilege.
For the individuals involved though, coming forward to report harassment and other unethical behaviour can be terrifying. Organisations need to meet people on their terms, and guarantee that they will be taken seriously and be protected. This is exactly what Whispli is designed to do.
In startup-land we’re always talking about finding product-market fit. I reckon this is probably the no. 1 most mis-understood concept in startups — but it’s also not much help when you’re working with founders right at the beginning of their journey.
When you invest in companies very early like we do — often what you’re actually assessing is founder-market fit. How does this founder have a unique insight into this market that lets them see opportunities others have overlooked? Is this founder working on something that is authentic to their experiences and skillsets?
When we first met the team at Whispli, the founder-market fit was crystal clear. Sylvain (the CEO) had been a whistleblower on a $20.7m fraud case that he uncovered at one of his former companies. He has lived through the fear and persecution that whistleblowers face. He internalised these feelings, and this authenticity informs everything Whispli does.
And Whispli seems to have emerged at just the right time.
In the last 18 months they have acquired more than 150 clients and have enabled more than 5,000 disclosures on topics like fraud, corruption, safety, sexual harassment, bullying and more.
It’s now being used by organisations including the ASX, Europcar, Qantas, Veolia, four of the top five Australian banks, and government bodies including the ACCC, the Department of Industry, Innovation & Science and the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission. We (Airtree) are even a loyal customer.
We’re proud to be backing Whispli along with Blackbird and UP2398. We’re excited to work with Sylvain, Sacha and the team as they give more people a safe way to speak up. And if you’d like to help them — they are hiring!
We love backing founders like this who are working on something that is unquestionably authentic to them. If that sounds like you — get in touch at james [at] airtree [dot] vc