Zenefits snags $15M plus Lars Dalgaard for its board

Zenefits, the self-proclaimed “Workday(s wday) for small businesses” now has $15 million in fresh funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick and Venrock and named Lars Dalgaard who founded SuccessFactors, to its board.

That is no small matter. Dalgaard, now a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz,  built SuccessFactors, a SaaS provider of human resources  services, which SAP bought for a whopping $3.4 billion three years ago. He knows a bit about what companies want from these services.

“I have personally met half of the people who make HR buying decisions, and I can say they all want what Zenefits offers,” Larsgaard said in an interview.

What he loves about Zenefits co-founder Parker Conrad is the “ferocious velocity with which he thinks about product and then builds that product. That is unseen in this industry — in Siebel(s orcl), Workday or SuccessFactors,” he said. “He does not get hijacked by some analyst’s opinion of what shoud be done.”

Conrad said he is motivated because at his last startup he hated, hated, hated doing the drudge work of setting up new employees. “I knew if I hated it that much others do too.”

His solution is to outsource and automate all the benefits-related rigmarole for new employees — the selection and set up of health,vision and dental insurance, 401K,s etc, said Zenefits co-founder Parker Conrad. Zenefits gets paid not by the end-user company but by the insurance companies and back-end providers of the services offered. It competes not directly with Workday, which targets huge companies, but the hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses out there who might otherwise use traditional insurance brokers or  Professional Employer Organization (PEOs)  like Trinet, that provide similar services but can cost thousands of dollars per employee, Conrad said

Zenefits plans to staff up to build more services and boost  sales and support. There are 42 employees now, a number that will probably double in a year. This new cash brings total funding to $17.1 million.