London-based Sona picks up €6.2 million for its people operating system for frontline and deskless workers

In what is a second funding round in just four months, Sona has raised about €6.2 million for its app dedicated to deskless workers. The round was led by Google’s Gradient Ventures with prominent angel investors getting involved. 

Founded in 2021, Sona is combining the power of modern workforce management software with a user experience that simplifies and centralises everyday work tasks for frontline workers, who typically spend most of their day away from a desk. The tech is specifically designed for employees who are involved in sectors such as health and social care, retail, hospitality, and the voluntary sector – sectors that have been calling out for this kind of innovation. 

With Sona, employees can access vital functions such as scheduling, shift allocations, attendance records, and one-to-one and one-to-many communication with a tap on the app. 

Asif Moosani, Investor at Gradient Ventures said: “Workforce management systems were designed for white-collar industries. As a result, these tools ignore a vital part of society – the frontline worker. Scheduling, shift management, and surrounding communications are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Great Resignation.”

The London-based startup is accelerating fast. In just 6 months it has built and launched the platform to an early set of customers, covering over 10k deskless workers within the UK and Ireland. 

Although deskless workers are estimated to make up 80% of the global workforce, it’s a cohort that has been underserved – according to Sona, just 1% of funding for enterprise software is dedicated to developing technology for employees in frontline jobs. Now, times are changing, and with the digital transformation accelerating, there are changing attitudes towards frontline work and how people and operations can be better managed. 

Oli Johnson, Co-founder of Sona, commented: “The technology gap between desk-based and deskless workers is set to close rapidly over the next decade. We believe that the growth of dedicated software for frontline staff will have the same transformative effect as the SaaS revolution had in desk-based work, and we want to be at the forefront of that movement. We’re beyond elated to have the support of world-class investors and customers who share our passion for transforming the world of deskless work.”

Many work tasks typically involve multiple disconnected systems and manual processes (often including WhatsApp groups and paper chains). By consolidating them, Sona claims to be helping companies reduce staffing agency spending by 35%, fill 70% of available shifts within 24 hours, and save managers an estimated five hours a week. 

Founded by serial entrepreneurs Oli Johnson (Harvard Business School MBA graduate), Steffen Wulff Petersen (ex HelloFresh, Payleven/Sumup and Lazada) and Ben Dixon (CTO), the company currently employs 18 people across ten countries. With this new capital, the team wants to triple in size, focusing in engineering and product development. 

Aidan Daly, Director of HR and L&D at Praxis Care, adds: “I believe Sona will revolutionise how we manage our rosters, providing our employees with more visibility and control over the shifts they want to work. The beauty of the product is that employees, who are rarely at a desk, are able to pick up shifts, book leave and have control over their working patterns all through their mobile devices. Sona has the added benefit of reducing the time managers spend in developing and filling rosters allowing them to focus on what they came into Praxis Care to do – support vulnerable people to live as independent a life as possible in the community. We are excited to be in partnership with Sona and for the new possibilities that come with this latest funding round.”

Existing investors in the fast-growing startup include Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, early-stage VC Speedinvest, Andy Leaver (Operating Partner at Notion Capital), Lorenzo Franzi (Partner at Flash Ventures), and several partners from Novator Partners. In addition, Asif Moosani (Investor at Gradient Ventures) and Markus Lang (Partner at Speedinvest) are joining Sona’s board. Meanwhile, the angel investors that participated include Anthony Danon (Partner at Cocoa), Maximilian Bittner (CEO at Vestiaire Collective), Graham Paterson (Product Partner at Connect Ventures), Andrej-Nicolai Henkler (CEO at Leblon Capital), Invested (Anna Brandt and Noor van Boven), and Sri Pangulur.