Managing and trading shifts is one of the most onerous tasks faced by retail employees, especially since many don’t have set hours. Shift Messenger, a Y Combinator alum, launched earlier this year to give workers a communication tool specifically designed to help them manage their schedules. Now the startup has raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Version One Ventures to add more features requested by its users.
Other investors in the round include Golden Venture Partners, Kapor Capital, Commerce Ventures, NewGen Venture Partners, Venrock, and QueensBridge Venture Partners.
A big recent development for Shift is the recent launch of a website version for people who don’t own smartphones. Workers can now post their shifts online and get notified about timeslots that need to be covered by SMS.
Shift hasn’t disclosed specific metrics, but founder Austin Vedder says “thousands of people are using the app across hundreds of workplaces” and that its user numbers have increased five times since TechCrunch first covered the startup in February. Businesses include branches of Starbucks, Niketown, the Apple Store, and even a few police stations.
About a third of shift workers have to juggle multiple jobs, so a new feature lets all members use the app across different workplaces. An admin mode means that people such as franchise owners can manage user lists for several locations.
Vedder says part of Shift’s seed funding will be used to hire more people for its design and engineering teams. The app will add individual channels soon to allow teams within workplaces, like a restaurant’s front-of-house staff, to exchange messages and shifts with each other inside of blasting all their co-workers.
Next up are features to let managers create and distribute schedules through the app, which will be especially helpful for places where workers still have to come in and look at a bulletin board to see their hours for the next week. Shift has photo sharing, which Vedder says many people currently use to distribute photos of their schedules.
In the long-term, Shift wants to add “broadcast tools” that will let company leaders communicate directly with their staff in stores and restaurant, instead of relying on the occasional email or website posting.
“With mobile push notifications and streaming video (Periscope and Meerkat are awesome recent examples on the consumer side), we believe there’s huge scope for larger companies to maintain more intimate dialog with their employees,” says Vedder.