Announcing our Investment in Stoke
“As the number of Professional Skilled Individuals who choose to work as freelancers continues to rise, the world’s leading enterprises are in need of solutions to facilitate their engagement with part-time workers in a scalable manner. Stoke is developing an end-to-end platform that allows enterprises to manage and monitor their flexible workforce, from sourcing, to payments to off-boarding.”
When we were introduced to Shahar and Hilik, two brilliant entrepreneurs with extensive experience working in large enterprises, we were impressed with them from day one. Both demonstrated strong entrepreneurial characteristics, complemented each other and showed an ability to focus on the important things. They told us of a product they were working on to solve a problem they dealt with firsthand in their previous roles. This problem dealt with the rise of what’s come to be known as the ‘Flexible Workforce’, namely the expansion of the workforce to include both on and off balance sheet talent.
We immediately felt that Shahar and Hilik were addressing a real pain and growing trend, which, along with great chemistry between us, made for a strong VC investment case. Hence, we moved quickly and made the decision to invest in just a few days.
Several trends have led to the rise of the flexible workforce. Hiring talent is very challenging, and Millennials prefer more flexible working conditions. Moreover, enterprises today are in need of specific skills within certain time frames and are willing to pay for it. Enterprises have begun to adapt, and in January of last year, a reported 59% of hiring managers indicated they were leveraging flexible talent. By 2020, the number of self-employed workers in the United States is projected to triple to 42 million people. Freelancers are also the fastest-growing labor group in the European Union, with their number doubling between 2000 and 2014 (source: Deloitte). Beyond the data, we’ve observed this trend of employing more and more freelancers via our portfolio companies as well.
As enterprises begin to leverage a flexible workforce, many issues arise: sourcing the right talent, on-boarding the talent, conducting background checks, task monitoring & management, managing benefit plans, ensuring that the workers are compliant with company policies, payments and invoicing, off-boarding and more. As we’ve heard in discussions with industry leaders, the headache that the above issues entail have prevented companies from even attempting to benefit from freelancers. In order to address this and be able to benefit from this trend, enterprises are in need to treat this challenge more strategically with a holistic, end-to-end enterprise platform that allows companies to access, trust and manage the growing flexible workforce.
And this is what Shahar and Hilik are aiming to solve with Stoke. Stoke is developing an end-to-end platform that allows enterprises to manage and monitor their flexible workforce, from sourcing, to payments to off-boarding and more. This speaks to the need of companies to grow in an agile manner, not just in their development processes, but from a talent perspective as well. Ultimately, Stoke aims to enable businesses to leverage a talent cloud; to get the talent they need when they need it, across all business functions. As the growth of the flexible workforce continues, being able to leverage this talent cloud will play a fundamental role in the survival of businesses.
We’re thrilled to announce that we are leading Stoke’s $4.5m seed round and look forward to our partnership with Shahar and Hilik as we jointly usher in the Future of Work.
For more information about Stoke visit their website here