Deskless workers make up 80% of the global workforce (over 2.7 billion people). Yet, they have been significantly underserved, with just 1% of funding for enterprise software dedicated to developing technology for employees in frontline jobs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic restructures the labour market and changes attitudes towards frontline work, several startups are coming to the aid of these employees to change the story.
Germany’s employee app Flip raised $30 million in Series A funding, Paris-based Snapshift logged in $45 million and London-based YOOBIC closed a $50 million funding round in the recent past.
London-based deskless employee platform Sona, which had raised £1.6 million in a pre-seed round just six months back in August, has now brought in another $6.8 million funding. The seed round was led by Google’s Gradient Ventures. Prominent new angel investors include Anthony Danon, (partner at Cocoa), Maximilian Bittner (CEO at Vestiaire Collective), Graham Paterson (product partner at Connect Ventures), Andrej-Nicolai Henkler (CEO at Leblon Capital), Invested (Anna Brandt and Noor van Boven), and Sri Pangulur. Existing investors participating in this round include Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, early-stage VC Speedinvest, Andy Leaver (operating partner at Notion Capital), Lorenzo Franzi (partner at Flash Ventures), and several partners from Novator Partners. In addition, Asif Moosani (investor at Gradient Ventures) and Markus Lang (partner at Speedinvest) also joined Sona’s board.
The startup has now raised a total of $9 million. It will use the funding to triple the team, with a particular focus on engineering and product development.
Founded by repeat founders Oli Johnson, Steffen Wulff Petersen (ex HelloFresh, Payleven/Sumup and Lazada) and Ben Dixon, the startup combines the power of modern workforce management software with a user experience that simplifies and centralises everyday work tasks for frontline workers, who typically spend most of their working hours away from a desk.
Created for industries that employ deskless shift-based staff - such as health and social care, retail, hospitality, and the voluntary sector – the platform lets employees access vital functions such as scheduling, shift allocations, attendance records, and one-to-one and one-to-many communication with a tap.
The growth the platform has seen in just a few months is rather impressive. According to the company, it has built and launched the platform to an early set of customers, covering over 10,000 deskless workers within the U.K. and Ireland, going from pre-revenue to six-figure ARR since incorporating in July 2021. Sona has helped companies reduce staffing agency spending by 35%, fill 70% of available shifts within 24 hours, and save managers an estimated five hours a week.
Oli Johnson, co-founder, Sona, said: “The technology gap between desk-based and deskless workers is set to close rapidly over the next decade. We believe that the growth of dedicated software for frontline staff will have the same transformative effect as the SaaS revolution had in desk-based work, and we want to be at the forefront of that movement.”
Asif Moosani, investor, Gradient Ventures added: “Workforce management systems were designed for white-collar industries. As a result, these tools ignore a vital part of society – the frontline worker. Scheduling, shift management, and surrounding communications are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Great Resignation. Sona empowers frontline workers by simplifying their workflows.”