nz startup humankind


Humankind brings a fresh and personal perspective to employee experience.  It recently spun out the recruitment arm of its business into a stand-alone company called Kin.

Samantha Gadd (Sam), director of both Humankind and Kin, and Wendy Alexander, director of Kin, talked to us about the two companies and how Kindrik Partners guided them through the process of sprouting Kin from Humankind.

the story

Sam launched Humankind in 2012 to offer a non-traditional, personal approach to HR that also provided good value for money.

The business had a strong start and quickly built a base of loyal clients. However along with many evolutions, including moving the focus from traditional HR to employee experience, Sam quickly noticed that several clients were also asking for recruitment advice. Sam knew that recruitment was a busy market and was keen to avoid Humankind being seen as just another recruitment company.

Sam brought in Wendy, who she had originally met through a mutual friend, to explore the opportunity to provide better recruitment services. According to Wendy, the two women just clicked. To make Humankind’s recruitment arm truly stand out from other recruitment companies, however, Sam and Wendy decided that it ultimately made sense to separate the recruitment team out into its own company. The result was the launch of Kin in 2017, with Wendy at the helm. Kin is on a mission to reshape recruitment with a modern business model.

the process

After deciding to spin Kin out of Humankind into a separate business, Sam looked at the technicalities of the process. She knew she would need help with the legal work, including the companies’ shareholding structures and corporate governance issues. Sam contacted Kindrik Partners after seeing one of the partners speak at Foundercon NZ.

Kindrik Partners’ first piece of advice was for Sam to contact Deloitte to discuss the ways in which the spinout would best be structured from a tax and accounting perspective, and the best option for arranging Wendy’s transition from employee to part-owner of Kin.

Kindrik Partners then drafted the transaction documents and numerous resolutions required to give full effect to Deloitte’s advice – including governance documents for both Humankind and Kin, and the agreements governing the separation of Humankind’s recruitment-specific business into Kin’s ownership and Wendy’s investment in Kin. The process was ultimately a balancing act involving juggling the original Humankind shareholders on one hand, and the need to set Kin up as an autonomous business reflecting Wendy’s investment on the other.

All things considered, Sam and Wendy thought that everything went fairly smoothly. Although it was an intense and even personal process for the parties involved, Kin was able to hit the ground running with help from Humankind’s existing client base and network. Sam and Wendy now appreciate both companies having a robust and clear foundation for future growth.

working with kindrik partners

Sam appreciated that Kindrik Partners was already an established player in the community of founders. Humankind and Kin’s values aligned well with Kindrik Partners, who are looking to disrupt the legal market – Wendy said that disruptive works with disruptive.

Sam also liked that Kindrik Partners understood the mindset of entrepreneurs, which helped remove the stress that came with the process. Sam and Wendy’s close personal involvement meant that the process could have been emotional but for the firm’s no-nonsense pragmatism. Finally, Sam and Wendy liked that the firm’s lawyers were very accessible, and that phone calls with them didn’t feel like they were always on the clock.

advice for other companies contemplating a similar transaction

Sam and Wendy valued their foundational relationship, and said that the two of them knowing each other helped. It is also helpful to find a business partner whose values align with yours. At the same time, it was equally important for Sam and Wendy to test that foundational relationship through open and frank communication.

Sam found it valuable to be able to construct a similar relationship with their advisors. Sam said that a complicated and emotional process like this one not only needed precise technical advice, but also good practical guidance. Sam and Wendy needed to feel like they could extend their relationship to their advisors in the transaction, and said that Kindrik Partners definitely delivered in that respect.

Above all, Sam said that it is critical to have passion for your project or business. She was only able to give her best because she truly believed in the service that she was providing – only then was she satisfied with what they had achieved.

what’s next?

Sam and Wendy stressed the importance of building a business that matters. Humankind and Kin deliver better experiences for clients and candidates, respectively, and each want to continue making a positive impact in the business world.

Both companies share a goal of seizing the local markets in New Zealand’s major cities and then spreading further nationwide beyond their existing hubs of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. They also plan to expand beyond New Zealand, with their eyes set on Australia.

Kindrik Partners has enjoyed working with these industry pioneers, and is excited to see where their unique take on employee experience and recruitment will take them next.

Explore Humankind and Kin.

[Note: The firm’s name was changed to Kindrik Partners in July 2020 and references to the firm’s previous name have been updated.]

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