NZ employee experience platform Excellent closes $2M to take the movement global.

Excellent, the New Zealand-founded platform spearheading the employee experience movement through learning, community and certification, today announces it has raised $2 million NZD in its pre-seed round to further its growth for international expansion.

Led by Australasia’s top venture capital investor, Blackbird, the raise also included notable support from Icehouse Ventures, K1W1 (owned by Sir Stephen Tindall), and a number of leading founders and business leaders including Brooke and Leighton Roberts, co-founders and co-CEOs of Sharesies, and Justine Smyth CNZM, Chair at Spark NZ.

Excellent’s purpose is to help business leaders and people managers come together with their employees to redefine what a modern workplace looks like — through the emerging discipline of Employee Experience (EX) Design. The Kiwi company is making it easy for organisations and leaders to co-design experiences with employees, as a community-led platform providing world-class learning and co-design tools tested in real businesses, as well as an certification pathway and networking opportunities.

Samantha Gadd, Founder and CEO said: “The pandemic has accelerated a mindset shift where employees are searching for meaningful and enjoyable work experiences, and businesses need to keep up. Excellent was born out of this movement, where we believe employee experience isn’t something leaders alone should be deciding – it’s the people in the company that can best understand and design the ideal work experience. Businesses who embrace this shift will ultimately retain the best talent and enjoy the most success.”

Jenny Busing, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer said: "We believe in a world where missions are achieved by people who love their work. Similar to customer experience and user experience, EX is about ensuring employees are getting meaningful value out of their relationship with work, so that they are retained, developing, and most importantly, thriving within the organisation."

Driven to improve people’s lives, Samantha Gadd founded and led human-centred HR and EX consultancy, Humankind, where she scaled the business for over 10 years working with over 500 organisations across New Zealand, before starting Excellent with her business partner and co-founder, Jenny Busing.

“At Blackbird, thriving workplaces are our religion. We’ve invested in many outstanding founders creating a fairer, happier, more engaged future of work: from Culture Amp, to Applied, and more recently Multitudes and The Mintable. Our investment in Sam and Jenny is the next chapter in this story. They combine subject-matter expertise and knock-down-walls energy which we believe will allow them to create a thriving global community of EX designers. We’re stoked to be leading this round and  can’t wait to see what they and the Excellent team build from here.”

– Phoebe Harrop, Principal at Blackbird.

Brooke Roberts, co-founder and co-CEO of Sharesies, an early backer of Excellent, said: “Our success at Sharesies has only been possible through growing an incredible team of talented people. Great investor experiences are a reflection of great employee experiences and Excellent is making it possible for every company to deliver those to their people.”

Justine Smyth CNZM, Chair of Spark NZ said,  “As a board chair of a public company, I know the challenges employees and organisations face in navigating a post-covid world. Excellent is leading the charge in getting people leaders access to the global expertise, skills, and support they need to deliver high-quality employee experiences to their workforce.”

Other notable investors include:

  • Mike Carden, co-founder of Joyous
  • Trent Mankelow, Chair of Summer of Tech and Director of Creative HQ
  • Mahesh Muralidhar, founder and CEO of Phase One Ventures
  • Ben Forman and Kat Lintott, co-founders of Wrestler
  • Adam Clark, CEO of Groov
  • Kirsti Grant, VP People Experience of Auror
  • Bron Thomson, co-CEO and founder of Springload
  • The team at Previously Unavailable
  • Laurie McCowan, President at Cavity Sliders USA

Excellent is the home for the global EX revolution.  The platform includes a professional membership, EX Design courses, and EX Design certification pathways — providing people leaders and HR practitioners access to the tools and inspiration they need to create thriving workplace communities. To learn more about EX, or to join our fast-growing international community, visit

Samantha Gadd

Samantha Gadd


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