Legion, an artificial intelligence-driven platform for workplace management, has raised a $22 million Series B round led by Stripes, with participation from Workday Ventures and others.
Legion is designed to help employers better manage their hourly workforces by automating certain decisions, like how much labor to deploy to meet the needs of the company and when to schedule workers. Taking into account demand forecasting, labor optimization and the preferences of employees, Legion then generates a schedule that “ensures employees are able to work when they prefer to work,” Legion CEO Sanish Mondkar told TechCrunch. “These are all important problems to solve in the overall puzzle of labor management.”
Legion sells its platform to mid-sized to larger enterprise customers, including SoulCycle, Philz and Dollar General. Its largest customer has more than 100,000 employees on the platform. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for something like Legion, Mondkar said. So perhaps it’s no wonder why the company has onboarded more than 18,000 new locations since April, Mondkar said.
“In the service industry, COVID has been challenging for many businesses and they anticipate the challenge not to be over anytime soon, even as things start going back to normal,” Mondkar said. “They anticipate labor budgets to be under pressure for a long time and consumer demand might take a while to come back.”
Given Legion’s forecasting model is based on machine learning, the company has spent a lot of time modifying its approach to demand forecasting to better account for the various new scenarios that have emerged from the pandemic,” Mondkar said.
“This machine learning approach of forecasting now has to be hyper localized to every data set and what that city is going through,” he said.
Legion has also rolled out new features designed for the times of COVID, such as contact tracing, identification of healthy versus quarantined workers and a streamlined way to quickly communicate to employees any changes.
For employees whose employers use Legion, they are able to use the Legion app to define how they want to work, and set their preferred hours, shift lengths and store locations. Legion’s algorithm then tries to match the preferences of employees with the needs of the business.
“Conventional wisdom in this industry for a long period of time has been, ‘If I optimize labor more, I can squeeze more out of them and get them to optimize labor more,’ ” Mondkar said. “Things like flexibility almost seem contrary to that goal. People think if they let employees pick flexible hours, that will counter their goal of getting more labor efficiency. Our goal is to prove that’s not right and that you can ensure both of them thrive simultaneously.”
Legion says its customers can expect at least a 10x return on investment, which can come in the form of efficient labor deployment, optimized labor and employee retention. For many Legion customers, Mondkar said the company has been able to reduce churn by 30-50%.
“The addressable market for what we do is very large,” Mondkar said. “It’s about how do you manage labor fundamentally in a way that provides you business efficiency but also enables happy employees. We want to focus on that two-sided issue.”