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Sona, the first workforce management platform, raises $27.5 million with an eye on US expansion

Sonaa workforce management platform for frontline employees, has raised $27.5 million in a Series A funding round.

More than two-thirds of the American workforce are supposedly on their first jobs, which can be anything from customer service and healthcare to retail environments and hospitality. But managing this huge workforce, ensuring roles are filled and service is delivered, requires a lot of resources. That’s where Sona started helping since it was founded three years ago.

«Sona intelligently allocates our customers’ largest cost base — labor,» co-founder of Sona, Steffen Wulff Petersen, he told TechCrunch. «This not only optimizes their cost base, but also directly drives more revenue – you can’t sell food or provide care without properly staffing.»

Founded in London in 2021, Sona helps companies manage almost every aspect of their frontline workforce, from shift scheduling, timesheets and feedback seeking to absence management and liaising with agencies to ensure shifts are covered during staff shortages.

Managers typically access Sona through a web portal, while workers access the platform through a mobile app that allows them to fill out timesheets, view available shifts, and communicate with managers. Companies integrate Sona with their internal systems to ensure the flow of all data through and between different departments and stakeholders.

Sona in action
Sona in action. Image credits: Sona
Image credits: Sona

As might be expected in this day and age, Sona says it uses artificial intelligence to automate many of the processes involved in workforce management, including optimizing schedules using data gleaned from workers’ contracts, such as their terms of employment, work preferences and availability. So the name of the game is manual administration which takes less time.

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«Running a business with a large frontline workforce is primarily about making sure the right people are in the right place at the right time,» Sone co-founder and CTO Ben Dixon told TechCrunch. «Sona becomes the central entry point for much of our clients’ operations, which means we integrate with almost all of their other systems — from care management and point-of-sale, to single sign-on and ERP (enterprise resource planning). This deep level of integration facilitates our AI product, as we are the only system that can provide a unified, real-time view of data across the business.”

Apart from old players such as PeoplePlanner in social welfare and Selima in the hospitality industry, there is no shortage of well-funded startups targeting a similar space in which Sona operates — there is ConnectTeam and Homebase to begin with, the latter announced a $60 million raise last month.

Petersen says he intends to differentiate himself from at least some of these companies by focusing on larger enterprises, blending “consumer-grade design” with features that require more complex multi-location operations.

«Most of the newer players in the VC-backed workforce management space are built for SMBs, with an easy and simple self-report product,» Petersen told TechCrunch. “It’s a great approach for small businesses with 1-10 websites, and there are millions of these businesses to target. We rarely see small and medium-sized vendors because business users need the opposite product — one that handles a lot of complexity.”

Indeed, Sony’s proposal is not that quick to set up: Petersen states that the demo itself takes three hours, and the implementation more than a few months. “Think about Salesforce in contrast PipedrivePetersen said. «We refer potential clients to some SMB vendors when the clients do not meet our business criteria.»

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Expansion

Sona is currently active in the social care and hospitality industry in the UK, where she counts likes Gleneagles and Estelle Castle as customers. With another $27.5 million in the bank, the company is now gearing up for further expansion – and the clue to its target markets lies in a new lead investor.

The Series A round was led by the Menlo Park-based VC firm Feliciswhich previously came out of investments like Call Amazon, Fitbit on Googleand Publicly traded Shopify. Other notable backers include Google’s Gradient Ventures, which led Son’s seed two years ago. Antler, SpeedInvest, Northzone and Bag Ventures also participated in the latest round.

Sona has now raised more than $40 million since its inception, and the company said it will use its fresh cash injection to «build more advanced AI capabilities» and accelerate its international plans, which will include its first foray into the US.

«The USA will be an important market for Sona. We now have both Felicis and Gradient, hired our first two US-based employees, and signed our first six-figure client, Alpha,” said Petersen.

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