From rising rents to online competitors, local stores and restaurants face enough challenges outside of their own doors that basic stuff like scheduling employees’ shifts and breaks should feel easy. But that process is still, too often, a mess of paperwork and data entry.
A startup called Homebase has raised $6 million to make hourly work much easier to manage for every business on Main Street. Khosla Ventures led the round, and was joined by Baseline Ventures and Cowboy Ventures.
The company’s cloud-based app was built with local businesses’ unique needs in mind, and is available as a free-to-use, or freemium app, with paid-for premium features.
Among other things, it helps businesses set a schedule for employees, automatically remind employees when they have an upcoming shift with a text alert, track whether employees are taking the breaks they’re entitled to throughout their shifts or whether they logged overtime hours.
Overall, the app can help business owners avoid unexpected labor costs and stay compliant with labor laws, said Homebase founder and CEO John Waldmann. But more importantly, it saves small business owners, on average, five hours a week of administrative tasks, the company claims.
Homebase plans to use the funding for sales, marketing and hiring, but also to continue developing features that will solve different schedule-related problems for small businesses.
For example, in the future, the company wants to help employers take all their workers’ personal preferences into consideration when scheduling. “That’s not something even Starbucks can do today,” the CEO said. “And it can contribute to employees’ happiness in a very big way.”
To date, Homebase claims to have recorded 20 million shifts worked across 50,000 small businesses, and to have users in every state.
About 70 percent of the company’s clients are restaurants, from fast-casual franchises to hotel bars and fine-dining establishments, and 25 percent are retailers, Waldmann said. Most users only own and operate one storefront, but some have local chains with dozens of locations.
With the funding, Khosla Ventures’ investment partner Keith Rabois has joined the board of Homebase.
Previously an executive at PayPal and Square, and board member at Yelp, Rabois said he invested in Homebase, in part, because of its early and rapid customer adoption rates.
“Small businesses may not pay a lot per user, but at scale they are worth a lot. So if you’re building tools for them, your distribution strategy has to resonate instantly or you have no shot of succeeding,” Rabois said.
Given their Series A round, Homebase should continue to focus on gaining customers without spending a lot on marketing or advertising, and on delivering software and a user experience that makes life easier for small business owners, the investor said.
Homebase employs about 22 full-time, with office headquarters in San Francisco and an outpost in Houston, Texas. To date, every employee at Homebase has previously held a retail or restaurant job, according to Waldmann.
The Series A round brings Homebase’s total capital raised to $8 million after an earlier seed round of $2 million.