How Sequoia One Grew from a Preferred PEO for Small Businesses to the Most Referred PEO in Tech in 10 Years

When Sequoia launched in 2001, we knew the ability to attract and retain top talent was key to impacting business growth and success for our clients. Our leadership was determined to build a team of experienced, dedicated professionals who understood the ins and outs of employee HR strategy, health insurance, retirement services, wellbeing, payroll, compliance, risk management, and employee experience.

As Sequoia grew to service startups and mid- and enterprise-sized companies with employees throughout the United States, our dedication to coming through for clients never wavered. After talking to countless founders, CEOs, CFOs, and HR leaders, we realized that people leaders experience some of their biggest career challenges during their companies’ startup stages. Many people leaders felt like their startups often didn’t have the maturity to build full in-house HR teams and took on the additional roles of data analyst, compensation specialist, benefits coordinator, and HR administrator themselves.

The problem with this: under the pressure of wearing so many different hats, their attention was diverted from core business goals like reaching their next inflection point and gaining additional funding.

Forming a PEO

In 2014, Sequoia solved this problem with the launch of Sequoia One, our PEO for small businesses—built to serve the needs of innovative companies looking for outsourced HR, payroll, and small business benefits. Sequoia One has gained a reputation for excellence over the last 10 years. To celebrate the last decade of PEO advancements, we’ll look back at Sequoia One’s evolution and how we’ve continued to meet our clients’ needs.

Deciding on the PEO Model

PEO services providers in today’s market typically fall into one of three categories. Each of the three PEO models has their designated role, but one model is built to be more beneficial to tech startups than the others.

A traditional PEO is good for companies looking to cover the basics of outsourced HR with conventional PEO benefits. They rely on an advisory and service team to guide strategy based on experience and from what they’re seeing in the market.

A transactional PEO functions as a software-first provider, which makes the PEO more transactional by nature. These PEOs remove many areas of human intervention throughout HR workflows and execution. While this sounds attractive to many startup teams, there are missing human advisory elements needed when real HR issues arise.

However, neither of these PEO options are the right fit for companies who want to truly prioritize their people.

The right fit is found in a strategic PEO that provides companies with real-time analytics that guides company leaders and the expertise of dedicated PEO advisory and services teams. This powerful combination of guidance, service, and technology—that scales along with a startup’s growth—is found in our strategic PEO model. Over the last decade, Sequoia One has become the Most Referred PEO in Tech by building upon our model.

Moving from a Traditional PEO to a Strategic PEO

Almost immediately, tech startups throughout California and New York realized how working with Sequoia One gave them the competitive edge to attract, win, and retain top talent. Sequoia One’s business consultants, benefits advisors, and client services team continually utilized their experience and guidance to help small businesses create PEO benefits packages that satisfied employee needs.

By focusing on tech startups, Sequoia One created more opportunities for better priced benefits offerings than other PEOs who service generalized industries. Tech company demographics are appealing to carriers as populations tend to be healthier and are more likely to utilize wellbeing services that keep medical costs down. This allows Sequoia One to negotiate rates and provide tech startups with a cost advantage.

As we continued to evolve and come through for clients, we saw there was still something missing. We realized how many HR systems HR leaders, founders, CEOs, and CFOs were juggling to manage their people spend. Sequoia knew the traditional PEO model wouldn’t work for businesses who had goals to scale quickly. We needed to add best-in-HR tech components to the Sequoia One PEO as well.

We created our own HR platform to unify disparate HR systems and visualize the data within those systems in a way that guided smarter decision making on people spend. The Sequoia People Platform provided one place where both Sequoia One teams and our clients could access their people data, communicate, and analyze how their people strategies impacted overall business goals. Now, Sequoia One could combine guidance from our expert team and our dedicated service experience, enabled through a modern HR tech platform to truly become a strategic PEO.

Transitioning To a Strategic Partner in Startup Success

With the outbreak of COVID-19, companies found Sequoia One’s guidance, service, and the Sequoia People Platform even more valuable. As many people leaders struggled to keep up with national requirements during the shutdown, Sequoia One was there to guide them on compliance along the way. As workforces moved to distributed and remote work, Sequoia One helped our clients navigate the complicated landscape of employing teams throughout the US as we continued to offer the best in small business benefits.

At a time when many startups had massive layoffs and were closing permanently, Sequoia One clients found comfort knowing that they had a strategic partner along the way that would provide guidance beyond benefits packages to meet employee and company needs.

During this time, it was even more apparent how a strategic partnership with Sequoia One positively impacted startup success. Clients appreciated our team’s commitment to always come through in whatever way was needed, from providing guidance on COVID-19 regulatory requirements and legislation to leading open enrollment for new, distributed workforces.

We are proud of the strong relationships we’ve built with tech startup leaders and venture capital community as evidenced by Sequoia One maintaining one of the highest client retention rates in the tech industry for PEOs.

Improving Startup Compensation Philosophies

As the initial stress of the pandemic faded, it was clear startups would continue to struggle with securing funding. Tech giants continued to announce large layoffs on almost a weekly basis, and Sequoia knew we had the ability to further help our clients extend their runway by optimizing their people spend.

When more than 75% of a startup’s spend is on their people, compensation packages or over-hiring can have a detrimental, long-term impact to a startup’s inflection points.

Many startups don’t fully consider the longevity of their compensation philosophies and headcount plans, leading to higher-than-expected burn rates, large layoffs, and less investor interest. To solve this misalignment, Sequoia added an end-to-end compensation management solution into the Sequoia People Platform—included for all Sequoia One PEO clients to activate and utilize.

Now so much more than a traditional PEO, Sequoia One allows clients to standardize jobs and set pay ranges, allocate total compensation effectively, stay compliant with pay, communicate a clear pay philosophy with employees, and leverage real-time compensation analytics to build full compensation philosophies.

Prioritizing Client Needs and Improving Sequoia One

Over the last decade, Sequoia One has been dedicated to helping tech startups move from PEO to IPO and has a proven track record of helping great companies grow into great BIG tech companies. We’re determined to come through for people who put their trust in us and only believe we have succeeded when we play a part in helping clients get their total people investment right.

To drive better business outcomes, Sequoia One directly acts on industry trends and client feedback to provide unparalleled strategic service offerings and HR technology. In addition to outsourced HR, payroll, and compliance, Sequoia One also provides tech startups with:

See why Sequoia One has become the Most Referred PEO in Tech over the last 10 years and how our strategic guidance, dedicated services, and powerful platform can help you meet your business goals. Contact us today and experience Sequoia One’s many PEO benefits.

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