Captain401, now Human Interest, raises $11M to build a 401(k) for small businesses

Pushing through a fund round is never an easy process — and for Captain4 01 co-founder Roger Lee, it was even more tricky this time around.

That’s because Lee and his team created $11 million right around the birth of his first newborn. That dedicated Lee an even deeper appreciation and understanding for the need of robust employee benefits, which was part of the original objective of Captain4 01 — dedicating small and medium-sized companies access to a 401( k ). That goal is also the reason that, with the new fundraising, Captain4 01 is changing its name to Human Interest. The startup’s latest funding round was led by Wing VC, a firm founded by partners from Sequoia and Accel, as well as former Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash.

Human Interest — as its former name Captain4 01 implied — focuses on creating an easy system for small businesses to begin offering a 401( k) to employees. It’s geared toward companies trying to get it up-and-running for the first time, as when companies start to matured benefits like that promptly become table stakes, lest they lose those employees to competitors with more robust benefits. It’s also important to get those schemes in place early, as employees likely want to begin securing their finances early on.

The focus is on both ends of the employee spectrum, looking to give employers a way to quickly deploy it and also stimulate the experience a little less painful for employees. Even if you’re at a big company that offers a 401( k ), it might be interred behind a number of different websites and logins. Human Interest looks to make it easy to check an employee’s balance, as well as help them figure out the best schemes and investments dedicated whatever situation they are in. Ease of use is the big target, Lee said.

“The vast majority of our customers are get a 401( k) for the first time, ” Lee said. “Our very first few clients were tech startups in the bay region, and that made a lot of sense for us to start. But we always believed their own problems we were tackling was much bigger than bay area startups. In general I suppose the positive astound has been watching interest beyond tech earlier than expected. That was always our hope and faith but it was encouraging when it did start pas, it happened sooner than we expected.”

While Human Interest is solely focused on the 401( k ), which is popping up in some unexpected regions like hospitality, there seem to be plenty of opportunities to expand to new products as they start to lock up small businesses as customers. Lee said the startup’s goal is to help them secure a financial future, which the 401( k) is a big part of — but there are obviously other ways to do that as well.

Human Interest will, of course, have some competitors as it continues to expand — especially if it wants to grow beyond the 401( k ). There are startups like Money Intel, and while a vast array of small and medium-sized companies might not be especially low-hanging fruit for major financial institutions, there seems to be plenty of opportunity for a product to reach that sweet spot. But with some experience get it up and running across the country, as well as a focus on ease of use, Lee hopes they’ll be able to outmaneuver those potential challenges.

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