'Morale as a service': how this startup went from facilitating dates to employee engagement - Start Up Gazzete
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‘Morale as a service’: how this startup went from facilitating dates to employee engagement


Mystery, the Seattle startup that launched two years ago on mysterious dates, is building on the success of a pandemic-induced pivot that has turned the focus to morale-boosting virtual events for distributed and hybrid teams and businesses.

Mystery is even calling its B2B brand of employee engagement “morale as a service.”

The change in direction isn’t the first for the startup, which was first launched helping facilitate a surprise night on the town for couples, complete with dinner, drinks, entertainment and transportation that remained a mystery. In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and quarantine orders kept people inside, Mystery tested a new service called “Night In,” to care for people trapped at home while also helping people. companies affected by the outbreak in Seattle.

Now he’s attracting some of the world’s largest companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, Zillow, and more, using his event planning expertise to surprise and delight workers.

“We have taken everything we learned from Night Out and Night In and turned them into a technology-centric platform,” said Mystery co-founder and CEO Shane Kovalsky. “Our technology allows us to create the best virtual events in the world by codifying the design of magical experiences, but we will not say much more than that because it is the mystery behind Mystery.”

Mystery offers six categories of virtual experiences, including arts events, classes, games, relaxing events, tastings, and performances.


“Not all teams are the same: Sales teams are different from engineering teams, and we have used our data to create unique experiences that are tailored to each team,” Kovalsky said. “Each of those categories has dozens of experience options.”

Not all events are secret, but the company strongly recommends that they be secret for a number of reasons. Mystery believes that the best experiences are those that push people and whoever they are out of their comfort zone, and people generally don’t choose those experiences. Expectations are also out of the window when a team has no idea what’s in store, support improves, and the bonding experience is better.

The pivot is working, according to the company. Mystery says his business is already 10 times bigger than ever and that the total market is massive. The company has built a network of hundreds of providers. And it is also growing as a company.

Mystery, which has raised $ 4 million to date, now has 26 employees. It has doubled in size since the start of the pandemic, with most of the team members completely remote and spread across seven states. Among recent notable hires:

Ahmed Owainati, vice president of engineering, was one of Convoy’s first employees and spent six years in the Seattle trucking market. (Kovalsky also previously worked at Convoy.) Owainati also spent nearly five years at Amazon.
Jackie Wagner, Chief of Staff and Head of Sales, is an attorney and MBA who most recently led the sales team for
Mae Mirkin, chief designer, was previously a lead designer at Amazon who helped launch new services for delivery operations such as Amazon Flex and lockers.
The B2B model and virtual experiences will be the focus of Mystery’s Attention for the foreseeable future. Kovalsky said that the original Night Out product in person is not off the table.

“However, when you turn on an open lane highway with no one on it, you don’t take a back road, you step on the gas,” he said. “Right now we are only doing virtual events for companies, but that’s just the tipping point. We have already successfully held thousands and thousands of in-person events in the past, so we are poised for success to do them again.

“But we will keep what seems like a mystery for now,” Kovalsky added.

Author avatar
Joshua Smith

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