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Why Experiences

Blueboard is an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company in America

As an employee rewards company that specializes in experiences—most of which are designed to get you out and about in the physical world—the past few years have brought more challenges and opportunities than we could've ever imagined. 

From adapting our offerings through the ongoing pandemic, to adapting our culture to meet the evolving needs of our people, the path hasn't always been smooth (or even clear).

That's why we're beyond proud to share that Blueboard has been included in this year's Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America.

The companies recognized by the Inc. 5000 represent something more than just impressive revenue growth. The list is a celebration of the contributions of thousands of employees, teams, leaders, advisors... Simply put, none of us would be here without our most important asset: our people. 

So how do we support our people? A lot of listening, a lot of stumbling, and a lot of striving (alongside our people) to build a company we’d want to work at.

Building a company we’d want to work at.

Kevin and I started Blueboard because we were both tired of the status quo at work. 

After college, a year into scoring office jobs, work had taken over our personal lives. Balance wasn’t possible with the hours we were putting in. And our relationships with friends and family—not to mention our own health and self-care—were suffering as a result. 

The cherry on top of all that burnout? The sorry way we were recognized at work for all of those 10+ hour days. 

For example: After doing the job of multiple people for weeks on end, working late into the night and on weekends, Kevin’s manager stopped into his office. “Thank you for all of your hard work,” they said, placing an American Express gift card on his desk. 

The trade-off was not worth it. Hobbies, health, and personal relationships had all but disappeared—we were literally working our lives away. For a gift card? 

Reaching this turning point together, we decided then and there that we would hit the reset button in our lives and prioritize the practice of learning something new. From Krav Maga to voice lessons, as we reinvested in our wellbeing, spent more time with our loved ones, and discovered new passions, we felt more fulfilled. 

This was the seed that started Blueboard. 

How experiences inform Blueboard culture.

Then and now our goal is to empower people to challenge their comfort zones, indulge in their passions, and try new things. With Blueboard, companies are able to reward their employees with quality time through experiences—deepening their connection to themselves and the world.

Want to learn more about what we do at Blueboard? See what’s possible.

Of course, this mission applies to our own people and culture. And a big part of our success has been continuing to invest in our employees’ fulfillment by encouraging them to spend more time outside the office, on their own terms. Sharing memories, photos, and videos extends the afterglow (what we call the feeling after you go on a Blueboard experience) of those moments.

(Yes, we use Blueboard internally. And yes, many of the experiences shared internally happen because someone redeemed their Blueboard reward. But people also share the experiences—big and small—they’re having in their day-to-day lives.)

A color photograph of a person holding a birthday cake with lit candles and smiling.
Nadia, Experience Coordinator at Blueboard, shares a photo of her mom (pictured here) with a birthday cake Nadia made for her. Nadia shared “the best chocolate cake ever made” in a Blueboard Slack channel dedicated to sharing what we cook.

Many of our people share the experiences they have on PTO, they share the experiences they have during mental health days, and they share the experiences they have during work hours with teammates. And we celebrate the fact that they’re having those experiences.

A color photograph of three people smiling and taking a selfie outside in front of an ornate building in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.
Nicole, Community Manager, Learning & Engagement (in middle), enjoys a scavenger hunt in San Diego’s Balboa Park with fellow Blueboarders (on left) Lianna, Sr. Customer Experience (CX) Manager, and (on right) Laura, Manager of CX.
A color photograph of a freshly made latte with a heart made out of foam.
 Charlene, HR Generalist, rediscovers her barista roots and practices her latte art.  

Because experiences help people feel more fulfilled and connected. And more fulfilled, connected humans are good for business. They’ve got more energy, more enthusiasm, they build up their teammates, they create safer spaces, they’re more resilientall of which is good for our bottom line (being in the top 1,000 companies on this list is a good proof point).

A color photograph of two people posing for a photo outside in ziplining gear smiling with their arms raised/curled like a weightlifter to show how strong they are.
Duke, Sr. Implementation Consultant (on right) celebrates a birthday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, including ziplining with his partner.
A color photograph of six people sitting on a boat in the ocean, with mountains and sky in the background. They are smiling and holding drinks.
Vito, Head of Curation (second from right) spends time with friends in Spain.

Not only does this culture help our employees find rest and fulfillment, it also means every Blueboard employee is a product ambassador. 

Building employee connection by living our core values. 

Another big part of our success these past years has been returning again and again to our core values. 

An image with heart, dancing, star, and mountain top icons that represent Blueboard's four core values, which read: "Build Meaningful Relationships. Dance A Little Different, Get Shit Done, and Set Ourselves Up For Success."
Blueboard's core values.

To set our people up for success, we empower managers with training, coaching, and dedicated in-person offsites. (After all, the manager-employee relationship is an essential part of any company’s success). 

We also prioritize ongoing professional development with a learning and development stipend for every employee available as soon as they start. To encourage our employees to stay and grow with Blueboard, we’re working with our people to clarify career paths, build competencies, and promote from within. 

Employee ERGs and an internal Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group are helping to make sure every Blueboard employee feels safe to Dance A Little Different.

We also demonstrate our values externally, working to set People leaders up for success with resources that help them understand the impact of current events on their people and workplaces. Over the past 12 months, we did two original research studies to hear directly from HR leaders and employees and learn more about global mental health awareness and the state of employee connection.

What does the data tell us? There are still gaps between what employers offer and what employees actually want. The findings also confirm that organizations that invest in employee recognition report better results across all measures of connection.

The ways we build meaningful relationships have evolved since the pandemic hit, but we make as much space as possible for employees to connect and get to know one another. One of my favorite spaces for BMR is our annual, all-company offsite: Bluetreat. The event is always an intentional mix of work and free time for our team to spend time together as people beyond their work roles, and get inspired for the opportunities ahead for our company. 

And because we’re setting ourselves up for success, our teams are getting a lot of sh*t done (see the numbers in the following section).

Blueboard by the numbers. 

At the end of the day, we’re just happy to be able to do what we do: To support hundreds of companies to recognize their employees with experiences, and to support an incredible team of Blueboarders. But these numbers are pretty cool, too: 

  • To date, we’ve helped people cross over 100,000 experiences off their bucket lists.
  • People have redeemed Blueboard experiences in over 4,366 cities and 70 different countries.
  • We supported over 500 companies in launching recognition programs to make employees feel valued and give them time back to invest in their personal lives.
  • In 2021, we sent our corporate clients to over 3,000 small businesses across the United States.
  • In 2021, Blueboard clients invested $2M into their local communities with Blueboard experiences.
  • Recognized employees have donated more than $900,000 to make a difference for the causes they care about.

What’s next? More investment in employee recognition and experiential rewards for employees.

The energy that sparked Blueboard lives on in the experiences we see, hear, and share everyday from our clients and colleagues alike. Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic we’re grateful to be able to create meaningful moments for thousands of people every month, all over the world. 

From prioritizing our people to increasing our experience offerings to getting more creative with how we tell the Blueboard story, our investments in growing the company have paid off in a multitude of ways. 

Our top three learnings on company growth from the past two years:

  1. Ensuring our recipients have the best Blueboard experience is at the core of our business—and we invest in our world-class customer service
  2. Our brand and culture are built by living our values and sharing those stories. 
  3. The more experiences, the merrier; our curated experience menus are the heart of what we do, and we’re invested in making sure they reflect a range of fun, unique, and accessible options. 

People never cease to amaze us with the amazing stories that come from our rewards. Blueboard experiences have been the backdrop to countless life moments—celebrating anniversaries, surprise birthdays, marriage proposals, and even the inspiration for a daughter’s name (shout out to Aurora 😉).

Congratulations to the fellow companies on the Inc. 5000 list! We’d also like to thank our awesome team for continuing to work hard throughout another challenging year. They’ve ensured that Blueboard continues to radiate positivity, and to grow—and for that, we’re incredibly thankful.

- Taylor and Kevin

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