Workjam and its new $12 million round make bold claims

Montreal’s Workjam is a startup that makes it easier to send an alert to hourly employees on their mobile phones. This week it raised $12 million in funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Founder Collective and NovelTMT.

Per Techcrunch’s Katie Roof, this startup targets workforce’s with employees who are working mostly outside of the office, a sector where there “still isn’t an ideal way to communicate with employees.”

Workjam already has a client list including Shell gas stations and some department store chains. The executive team also possesses experience. CEO Steven Kramer previously founded iCongo, which was acquired by Hybris and then SAP. He also graduated from McGill University. Cofounders Joshua Ostrega and Mark Sadegursky migrated from iCongo as well.

iCongo was a software provider for onmichannel retail and B2B commerce.

Prior to this week’s funding, Workjam had bootstrapped since 2014.

“We were looking to grow the company and this is something that will allow us to accelerate and expand,” cofounder Josh Ostrega told MTLinTECH. “We have a lot of international demand coming and this is intended to help us expand.”

Workjam’s software places a heavy emphasis on scheduling. It claims that outdated scheduling methods and the time-consuming game of musical chairs with shifts creates continued stress, and that “training and reviewing hourly workers is rarely done well, draining costly resources.”

Workjam, they say, is the industry’s missing piece of technology focused on helping businesses improve the management of their hourly workforce “while simultaneously enriching those employees’ lives.”

Per Techcrunch’s roof:

“Without WorkJam, there’s ‘no way to effectively communicate from head office down to the hourly worker,’ claims Kramer. These hourly workers often don’t even have company emails, so he believes that WorkJam makes it easier to ‘train and engage their employees,’ pointing out that ‘a lot of training at organizations are still happening by paper binders.'”

He says that the overall vision is ‘better alignment between corporate strategies and the people who actually have to execute those strategies on the front line.’  He gave examples like alerting employees about a new merchandising display or cleaning up a machine at a manufactory.”

It could be stretch to claims that there’s no way to effectively communicate from head office to a worker. After all, we’re inundated with multiple messaging streams on our phones already.

But Ostrega told us otherwise. He gave a simple example in that a majority of companies in retail, food service and healthcare don’t give out personal, company email addresses. This can be a problem, particularly if a big issue affects an entire company. In the case of Chipotle’s e-coli crisis in November, a company-wide communication breakdown turned out to be an expensive problem.

“It was an absolute nightmare to communicate, train and get a consistent message across to their workers,” said Ostrega. “Not having a solid communication system can be costly and can be a big IT headache.”

Not only are they respinding well, they’re calling us. There’s been so little innovation in workforce management, so this is giving them an opportunirty to allow them to focus on what they need to focus on (employee engagement), and helping manage train and schedule these wortkers, but they can do so by extending their current systems. They dont’ have to throw out their existing backends – they can add workjam and extend the life and investment they’ve made into those system and get a tremendous value.”

But investor Eric Hippeau, managing partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, is confident in his bet in Workjam.

He told Techcrunch he invested in WorkJam not only because of Kramer’s track record, but also because he believes in the vision. “One of the places that has been overlooked is the whole marketplace for hourly workers.” WorkJam’s mobile-centric approach made the most sense for Lerer Hippeau. WorkJam is “way more integrated and much more attuned to the needs of the worker.”

Workjam has written some nice pieces on its website reminding us the value of the in-store experience, and keeping a businesses’ hourly workforce happy and engaged.

Per Workjam’s blog, “Retailers have made heavy investments in mobile apps and rich commerce websites, trusting that these investments will keep prospective customers from taking their business elsewhere. But the focus on online and mobile channels shouldn’t come at the expense of the in-store shopping experience – the last mile of the customer experience.

tech-adept consumers aren’t looking for general support – they’re expecting in-store associates to answer the specific issues that a web search cannot. For retailers, that means having a knowledgeable hourly workforce on hand.

Unfortunately, many retailers struggle to build a committed hourly workforce that can meet these growing expectations. From performance recognition to cross-company communication and training, retailers aren’t doing enough to improve the overall work experience of their hourly staffers.”

Workjam feels its software (among other factors) can be the solution to some of these issues.

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