As the shift to hybrid working looks set to continue well past the pandemic, Sydney-based startup Calven has secured $6.8 million in funding to help shape the future of what this new world might look like.
Led by venture capital fund AirTree, the seed funding will be the catalyst for launching the product in the Australian and US markets following 12 months of development.
The capital will also help with the continued enhancement of the tech platform, which aims to unlock hybrid working by providing a better experience for both employees and employers while also optimising office space when required.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing calibre of investors behind us and customers who have partnered with us to this point in our journey," co-founder Jeremy Pollak said.
“Collectively, their support and insights have ensured we’re bringing to market a platform that will remove much of the friction and challenges managing employees in a hybrid environment.
“It’s a vote of confidence in our ability as a team, as well as the huge potential of software solutions to enable the future of work.”
Pollak, also the co-founder and director of workplace technology specialist POMT (peace of mind technology), said the pandemic was the catalyst to look beyond existing technology solutions.
“Listening to employees, workplace experience leads, facilities and human resource heads at more than 100 companies in Australia and overseas, it’s clear everyone is struggling with manual processes and piecemeal technology to plan and manage their people, not just real estate challenges,” said Pollak, who spent the last 15 years consulting with companies including Atlassian, Canva, Seek, Macquarie (ASX: MQG) and Afterpay.
“Hybrid work environments have fundamentally changed when and where people work and how they want to engage with their employers and teammates.
“It has upended business as usual and left many leaders struggling to plan, manage, measure and negotiate the tension between what employees and employers need to be successful.”
Fellow co-founder Dan Jackson, who previously led product and engineering teams at New York-based global workplace specialists Crestron, said technology will transform how people work.
“We believe the future of work (not just hybrid) will be driven by a balance of individual preferences, team objectives and organisational policies and guidelines all operating together,” co-founder Dan Jackson said.
“Only when these three combine effectively to meet the needs of everyone will the employee and employer be at their most productive, efficient and engaged.”
Calven currently has 20 employees dispersed across Australia but is aiming to grow that number as part of the financial backing.
“Being born remote has afforded opportunities in attracting experienced talent in workplace strategy and technology, software engineering, and operations,” Jackson said.
“It also highlighted the challenges of building culture and connection with remote teams, which is one of the problems we’re trying to solve with Calven, and aligns to the feedback we’ve received from organisations we’ve consulted during the development phase.”
Jackson says there is no one-size-fits-all approach and believes the team’s insights during the past year while working closely with design partners Canva, Afterpay, Quantium and Gilbert + Tobin has been invaluable in creating the features for the first release of the Calven platform.
Employees can access Calven via a mobile app, web, and tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. The app provides visibility and insight into individual employee preferences so that engagement can be individually curated and targeted.
Other strategic investors include Michael Gonski, a partner in the employment law practice at Herbert Smith Freehills and the Gonski family office.
"Jeremy and Dan are industry experts when it comes to workplace technology,” AirTree partner James Cameron said.
“The years they've spent building relationships in the space and getting exposure to companies' workplace strategies and challenges has given them a unique take on what the future of work should look like.
“Calven was born out of a crisis, but it's not just a band-aid solution for the here and now. We see a category forming around hybrid work platforms, and Calven will help companies act on their policies and optimise the office and employee experience."
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