Investing in Mobile Workforce Management for Shift Workers

By Bob Kelly, Managing Partner

We are excited to announce our investment in Shyft, a mobile workforce management solution based in Seattle. We love everything about the team, the product, the market timing and of course the growth trajectory of Shyft. Let me tell you why.

First, the context. There are many technology trends impacting enterprise customers, not the least of which are the changing demographics of employees, the use of machine learning techniques to drive efficiency and growth, the modernization of business processes using cloud and mobile and so on. These are well known and form the technology and business reasons why Ignition Partners has made the investments that we have. However there are other less obvious trends that have more to do with changing sociological and economic shifts (no pun intended) — including the rise of the Mobile Workforce economy, the rise of state and local legislation around fair work for shift-based employees, the willingness of this new demographic of employees to share everything including their job and their time/effort/mission, and the impact of cloud and mobile on employee expectations to name a few, that are just as influential on enterprise software. It is the combination of how Shyft addresses and provides a technology solution for these trends simultaneously that led me to conclude that the team at Shyft is onto a real and growing opportunity to transform the way shift workers balance their personal and professional needs, in a very modern and forward-looking way.

Second, the opportunity. Enterprise systems are well known for their “ilities” — secur-ability, manageability, availability, scalability and so on. But they are also known for being slow moving and IT or business-centric and not user-centric. Slow moving and focused on IT/business users has a lot of benefits to companies in yesterday’s software and sociological world. However in today’s fast moving mobile world, users are demanding apps and solutions that match the user experience they get from their “smart device” of choice as well as the flexibility that comes with the “share everything” world view. Enter Shyft. Shyft’s app helps retail and service workers swap shifts, communicate with each other, and earn more money by picking up shifts that might otherwise go unstaffed. Shyft’s additional suite of workforce management tools transform how employee scheduling and related tasks are managed.

Third, the product. Shyft has built a mobile-based, modern, consumer-grade experience for the enterprise that has thousands of shift workers. Users download the app from an app store and then invite their co-workers to do the same to build their own network amongst their co-workers with whom they can trade a shift when something happens in their life and they cant get to their job. Enterprise virality and network effect — magic in enterprise software!

No more going to the lunchroom and looking at the bulletin board (yes this is often state of the art) to find out your schedule for the next week, and realizing you can’t work on Thursday because you have a conflict. No more going to your manager and begging for relief. No more posting a yellow sticky up on the board to see if someone can please cover for you. With Shyft, you simply post your conflicted shift in the app, a notification goes out to your network and a co-worker can claim it. Managers are notified so that they know what is happening and can even decline the claim if that employee might trigger overtime by taking that shift. Shyft also allows companies to comply with increasing fair work legislation by enabling managers to publish the upcoming schedule into the Shyft app and thereby give both visibility and flexibility to employees. Modern user-experience for mobile-first shift workers, meets enterprise demands, meets compliance. Perfect!

Finally, the team. Brett Patrontasch, Daniel Chen, Kyle Liu and Chris Pitchford are the brains behind Shyft’s innovation. A team of entrepreneurs who have built a very exciting, high-growth company, that ticks the boxes of Ignition-backed companies — user-driven, ML/AI-based solutions that are focused on modernizing enterprise workflows for the next generation of workers. We couldn’t be more excited to be backing their efforts.

As the newest company to join the Ignition Partners’ portfolio, Shyft joins AI-driven startups such as Amplero, Tractable, and Trifacta all of whom are members of the CB Insights AI100. They join a long line of successful Ignition-backed companies including Docusign, Splunk, Apptio, Cloudera and many more. The portfolio will grow as we continue to actively invest in early-stage enterprise-focused companies that transform the way we work. If you, or founders you know, are building companies that fit this mold we encourage you to reach out.