Toronto-based software startup WFHomie has secured $1.9 million CAD ($1.5 million USD) in seed financing to fuel the growth of its employee engagement solution.
Amid the shift to remote and hybrid work arrangements during COVID-19, a particularly competitive market for skilled talent, and the so-called great resignation, the pressure is high on employers to engage and retain their employees, many of which are facing pandemic-related burnout.
“The relationship between employees and employers is really being redefined as we speak.”
In the midst of this environment, WFHomie has positioned itself as a means of helping companies with distributed teams, like Wealthsimple and BMO, gauge and improve their employee satisfaction as they adapt to and navigate the future of work.
“The relationship between employees and employers is really being redefined as we speak,” WFHomie co-founder and CEO Pavla Bobosikova told BetaKit. “We really want to be the category leader when it comes to understanding that relationship and facilitating, really, a better work life for people.”
WFHomie’s platform analyzes employee engagement and identifies gaps in team behaviour, using this data to provide companies with recommendations on how to address these gaps through virtual experiences, team-building activities, and employee appreciation opportunities.
The startup’s SAFE seed round closed in September, and saw participation from a group of VC firms and angels from Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. The company’s seed financing saw participation from Initial Capital, Bogaroo VC, Dispatch VC, DNX VC, NewFund, Winning Together Fund, as well as angel investors Andreas Mihalovits, Darby Sieben of RBC, Chris Krischnig, David Smejkal, and Rupa Popat.
As part of the round, WFHomie also saw the first investment from Ryan Holmes and Manny Padda’s new fund, LOI Venture, which focuses on founders under 30 years of age coming out of Holmes’ charity, League of Innovators (LOI).
“We saw how WFHomie is making real human connections between employees easier in a time where the transition to hybrid and remote work has been at the forefront,” Padda, LOI Venture’s general partner and managing director, told BetaKit. “Between the issues companies are seeing with employee retention and the continuous adapting they’ve needed to do, WFHomie fills this gap and is making employee engagement easier than ever before.”
Padda declined to say how much of LOI Venture’s $20 million target the fund has closed, but promised to share more in the new year.
This seed round is WFHomie’s first official funding round to date. The startup previously joined San Francisco-based B2B SaaS accelerator Forum Ventures in January, securing a nearly $128,000 CAD ($100,000 USD) cheque as part of this process. Bobosikova said WFHomies classifies this as their pre-seed round.
Prior to launching WFHomie, Bobosikova worked as director of product at Toronto-based customer relationship management (CRM) startup Nudge.ai, and then as a product manager at fellow CRM startup, San Francisco-based Affinity.co, which acquired Nudge.ai’s assets in March 2020, following its shutdown, just as COVID-19 first hit.
For Bobosikova, who had spent years working for Toronto tech startups and relished the associated in-office culture, being forced to work remotely came as a shock.
“The OneElevens and WeWorks and all these communities were really what made my experience of working in Canadian tech, and then suddenly it was torn apart,” she said, adding that the experience led her to start exploring the concept that became WFHomie.
Bobosikova added, “It really opened my eyes to, what does tech work look like for people that didn’t have the opportunity to have this office connection?”
She officially co-founded WFHomie with President Reza Farahani, an experienced data scientist who previously spent time working at companies like Mississauga-based SOTI, TD, and Boston Consulting Group, late last year.
WFHomie aims to help companies address the challenge of hiring and retaining top talent, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. “Employee burnout and top-talent turnover has plagued companies over the years, and it’s more prevalent than ever coming out of 2021,” said Farahani.
Amid a growing market of human resource (HR) tech and employee engagement solutions that includes Canadian players like Calgary-based Kudos, Bobosikova sees WFHomie’s focus on people analytics as a differentiator.
With its platform, WFHomie aims to take advantage of the emergence of new datasets related to remote-first and flexible work, sensing a big opportunity to crunch this data into actionable employee engagement-related insights for companies.
Bobosikova said WFHomie has positioned itself as a complementary API layer that connects often siloed tools and datasets and taps into companies’ HR systems.
Right now, WFHomie is focused on tech, finance, and consulting customers. WFHomie’s Canadian tech company customers include Wealthsimple and workplace experience platform Lane. WFHomie has also worked with Google and Facebook, as well as BMO and TD on the finance side. Bobosikova described WFHomie’s “sweet spot” as the 700 to 5,000 employee range.
Currently, WFHomie’s customer base is divided between Canada and the US. WFHomie plans to use the fresh capital to expand its services across both countries. Going forward, Bobosikova said the startup is also “playing with the thought” of expanding into regions like Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
From a customer size standpoint, the CEO added that as WFHomie increases its focus on data, she expects the startup to begin targeting more large enterprise customers, which have bigger employee bases and datasets. “That’s where the value gets really felt,” she said.
Since closing its seed round, WFHomie has grown its five-person team to 10 employees, and aims to add some more on the engineering side to support its product development and data science ambitions.
“The great thing about WFHomie is they’re only just getting started,” said Padda. “We’re going to see tremendous acceleration from this team as they’re able to expand globally, enhance the company’s platform and provide intuitive analytic and reporting capabilities that will be a first in this industry.”
Feature image of WFHomie’s co-founders, courtesy of WFHomie