Beekeeper, the Switzerland and U.S.-based startup that provides a mobile-first communications platform for employers that need a better way to communicate with blue-collar and service-oriented workers, has raised a further $8 million in new funding.
The Series A round was led by Keen Venture Partners and sees the European VC firm’s general partner Robert Verwaayen join the Beekeeper board. Also participating in the round are Fyrfly Venture Partners, Polytech Ecosystem Ventures and b-to-v Partners.
I also understand a number of angels have invested in a personal capacity. Noteworthy, they include Niklas Zennström, Skype co-founder and founding partner at Atomico, who doesn’t always disclose his early investments, in addition to Ariel Lüdi, former CEO of hybris and founder at Hammer Teamm and Niklas Ostberg, co-founder and CEO of Delivery Hero.
Beekeeper says the round will be used to “fund aggressive U.S. and EMEA market expansion” for its employee communication app that connects a company’s workforce and is especially aimed at non-desk-based workers.
“Typically we work with companies with a large share of non-desktop, hourly wage and non-salaried employees who have limited or no access to desktop computers and corporate email addresses,” explained Beekeeper CEO Cristian Grossmann last April.
The Beekeeper mobile-first platform is designed to replace more arcane communication methods, such as pen and paper and consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp, and has found a market in retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
“We saw significant momentum in 2016 from the investments we made in customer success and new features to support major global enterprise customers and will use this financing to continue our expansion into new industries and markets in the year ahead,” says Grossmann.
In the past year, the startup says that a number of Fortune 500 companies have adopted Beekeeper. Recent customer wins include hospitality company Mandarin Oriental; retailer Dollar General; food manufacturer Seaboard Foods; and Heathrow Airport, Gate Group and Dnata in the transportation sector.
Meanwhile, competitors in the space might well include Slack, Yammer and now Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook, but these are more focused on increasing productivity for office workers and teams.”They are solving a very different challenge — we are entirely focused on empowering hourly workers that work shifts and don’t have email or computers,” the Beekeeper CEO says.
“[Each of those companies] requires an email address to sign up. Beekeeper actually has password-less on-boarding where each employee gets a QR code that they can use on a manager’s device, which is a totally different approach, philosophy and point of view from the very start. I’d also add that Facebook in particular has the additional struggle to overcome skepticism about mixing work and personal lives which the others avoid.”