On-demand staffing platform Workmate raises US$5.2M funding, looking to put orders in region’s informal labor economy
Southeast Asian end-to-end staffing platform Workmate (formerly Helpster) announces that it has closed a Series A funding round of US$5.2 million, led by Atlas Ventures with participation by Gobi Partners and Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (KBANK), with existing investors also participating in the round.
The company said that the fresh funds will be used to increase investment in sales, grow the technology team, and expand to new cities.
The investment brings Workmate’s total funding to US$10 million since its launch in January 2016.
Workmate notes that in Southeast Asia, the informal labor sector accounts for more than 50 per cent of the region’s workforce, with approximately US$200 billion in wages paid to informal workers annually. The staffing market for informal labor in the region is expected to double to US$8 billion by 2025.
However, despite the market’s huge potential, it is still bound to the traditional method of finding work and workers – usually through word of mouth – which means that securing reliable and consistent employment remains challenging.
Mathew Ward, CEO and Co-founder of Workmate said: “We are automating what traditional manpower agencies would typically offer – by allowing businesses to go directly to workers versus going through a middleman agency that charges up to 30 per cent in fees – and we’re doing it at scale.”
According to Ward, the traditional staffing model is still manual and has a little technology adoption, something that hasn’t changed much in 40 years. “It’s a big market which is ripe for disruption. This model is gaining traction internationally – even Uber has just announced it launched a staffing solution called Uber Works in the US,” Ward added.
Increasingly, more service-oriented, informal jobs are being created in the region, but both workers and businesses are currently underserved by tech solutions, which Workmate believes to mostly focus on building tools for the professional “white collar” workforce.
“For businesses, sourcing consistent, reliable workers can be immensely time-consuming, especially given the lack of data and information available about the workers themselves. On the other hand, workers find themselves without a job, sometimes for weeks at a time, because they can’t find the right match, making it even harder to make ends meet,” explained Ward.
All workers in the platform are pre-screened by Workmate before being made available to hire on the platform.
Businesses then can request staff through the platform and are matched to workers nearby who have the required experience. They can view each workers’ experience, ratings, and performance history, before confirming which workers they want.
The platform also manages contracts, attendance, timesheets, and worker payments to provide a seamless end-to-end solution.
For workers, once they pass Workmate’s screening process, they are shown multiple jobs offers to choose from every day via the Workmate App, tailored to match their skills.
Workmate also offers workers protection from wage fraud, provides social security, and has upcoming plans to offer insurance and access to financial support.
Workmate is headquartered in Singapore, with offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, and Bali, and has plans to expand further in 2020.