German SaaS startup how.fm raises over €5 million to digitize training for warehouse talent

In the war for warehouse talent, how.fm is making sure warehouse workers are more skilled, trained and supported. German SaaS startup, how.fm, has just raised over €5 million in fresh funding. The round was led by Join Capital, with renewed investment from Kindred Capital and Capnamic Ventures, and a roster of industry-leading angels.

Other investors in the round include ex-Amazon UK CEO, Christopher North; CEO of Berlin-based logistics service, Forto, Michael Wax; as well as angel investments from Allegro CEO Francois Nuyts and business angel Andrej Henkler. As part of the fundraise, Join Capital Partner, Jan Borgstädt will also join the how.fm board.

Launched in 2019 by serial entrepreneurs Andreas Kwiatkowski and Farhoud Cheraghi, how.fm is transforming manual labourers’ onboarding and training processes through digitalisation. The platform enables warehouse operators to onboard, upskill, and support their workers every day. 

Across Europe, ecommerce has seen a massive upswing in popularity over the past couple of years, with the pandemic accelerating this transition of habits. Ecommerce logistics have subsequently exploded, and so has the need for warehouse staff. These workers need training and support, and demand for quality processes has been on the rise. 

As a result, there has been a war for warehouse talent bubbling in the ecommerce industry. According to how.fm, it’s not even the challenge of finding and recruiting the staff, but it goes further to retaining them. The startup has found that once an employee has been onboarded, it can cost over $7k to replace them, due to spending on in-person training, loss of productivity and quality. What’s more, the logistics and warehousing industry has a steep turnover rate of 59.5% year on year in permanent workers, and 420% in the temporary staff that are facilitating 2-4 peaks per year. Clearly, it’s critical to bring onboard a high number of effective employees. 

how.fm was launched to tackle this mounting issue, and to help the ecommerce and logistic industries continue to thrive. 

Andreas Kwiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of how.fm, explained: “Employers in warehousing and distribution must undertake a huge effort when hiring, training and ensuring compliance for each employee, in an industry that sees exceptionally high levels of staff turnover. As online shopping and e-commerce grow, increasing competition for efficient staff will cost businesses a great deal. how.fm aims to streamline the process of repetitive staff onboarding and management – in each individual employee’s native language. This allows senior staff to focus on the most valuable areas of the business.”

Companies need the option to hire staff speaking any language, and get them job-ready fast, with the least possible involvement of an already thin layer of experienced long-term personnel. The how.fm software covers pre-onboarding, orientation, health & safety, job-related skills and work instructions. how.fm’s SaaS solution generates company-specific sites, which enables businesses to ‘put training on autopilot’, while also increasing safety and quality in their operations. This means reduced costs and fewer efforts from site managers in training their operators.

The company’s client data shows that the solutions are working Already, the young company has clients that are leading logistics professionals, such as Kühne + Nagel and Ingram Micro. Brand names such as Bloom & Wild, Fressnapf as well as many more across Europe use how.fm to generate policies and process training and train their workers in over 30 different languages.

The platform has the ability to solve key high-growth high-turnover operational problems, including fixing labour shortages thanks to the global talent pool it unlocksby removing language barriers. It also supports scalability by enabling rapid growth and helps companies to adapt to seasonality, as well as increase response time by ensuring effective onboarding, and training of their workers. With the option for live support, it enables warehouses to stay on top of compliance while achieving operational excellence as a service.

Jan Borgstädt, founding partner of Join Capital and new how.fm board member said:“The logistics industry is under immense pressure to deal with the constant increase in e-commerce, and most logistics contractors have very antiquated onboarding processes. Andreas and his team impressed us with a very short proof-of-value when we introduced them to 4 prospective customers in our network. We liked the execution power that drives the founders as well as their positive resonance within Join’s network, who, within minutes, unanimously recognized the potential added value of how.fm in their day-to-day logistics operations.”

Andreas Andersson, EMEA Safety Lead at Ingram Micro added: “how.fm helps us overcome the language barriers our business faces every day. The CMS system allows us to quickly set up training material to use for anyone in our facilities, regardless of employment type or country of origin. The fact that we can test the knowledge of each trainee helps us a lot on the compliance part as well. An excellent system that is easy to implement, set up and then use.”

The new capital boost will be used to recruit across the businesses, focusing on building commercial teams throughout the UK and Euope and expanding from logistics into other verticals seeing high turnover.