My favorite country is: New Zealand The life hack I swear by is: Meditation
Remodeling workplaces so all employees feel like they belong
BREAKING THE MOLD. Ben Towers is a natural-born entrepreneur. He started his first business when he was just 11 years old, building websites in his bedroom for $50. At 16, The Sunday Times described him as one of the most influential teenagers on the planet. By 17, his company was so successful he became the first person under 18 in the UK to be granted a business account.
"It was when I was 13 that I realized I actually had a business. There was this interesting dynamic where I had the challenges of entrepreneurialism on one side, and on the other, I was finding myself and realizing I'm different from the norm."
Ben's latest company, Happl, is a tech platform centered around employee engagement, helping everyone from major corporations to startups engage effectively with their teams with tailored benefits, including gifting, awards, and recognition. "Companies told me they wanted to do more to support their teams but to ensure it worked for everybody. What we're doing at Happl is trying to ensure people can get what they want from their people experience at a company."
CREATING A BETTER WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT. Recently, Happl has unveiled a dashboard that helps managers to support every individual on their teams, providing education and advice on subjects surrounding gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. "My dream for Happl is that we can make it ridiculously easy for managers to be great at what they do. They can support their team no matter who they are and give everyone access to the right resources, so employees feel genuinely supported by their company."
Ben says Happl's latest feature was shaped by his experience growing up gay and coming out to his family, friends and co-workers, something he did during a period of reflection during the pandemic-induced lockdowns in 2020. "When I came out to my co-founder, we were living together at the time, and I was sitting in the living room in tears. I always had this perspective that people would suddenly see the business in a different light, that maybe it's not as capable or as strong. So far, I've had a good experience, though I realize I'm fortunate to be working in the HR tech space."
It wasn't until coming out that Ben understood the emotional weight he had been carrying and how that may have impacted the business in its early days. "If I think back, I don't know how I was operating before or making clear decisions while facing that internal battle. Sometimes I think, what might have happened to the business if I'd come out three years earlier? Would that have changed anything if that weight had been lifted off? I don't know, but it's something that plays on my mind."
As a young entrepreneur, Ben says he appreciates and has benefitted from the support networks that have been established for LGBTQIA+ founders. With Happl being his first venture-backed business, those networks have taught him a valuable lesson in working with investors who share his goals and values. "It's important for me that the business is constantly moving forward and not to dwell on the failures, but bigger than that, with the world so fragmented and separate, I want to help people feel like they belong."