Sona grabs $6.8m seed

Sona, a "people operating system" for deskless workers, has raised $6.8 million in seed funding.

Sona, a “people operating system” for deskless workers, has raised $6.8 million in seed funding. Google’s Gradient Ventures led the round.


LONDON – Sona, the all-purpose ‘people operating system’ providing deskless workers with an easy-to-use platform for managing everything work-related, is announcing its $6.8M seed round. The round was led by Google’s Gradient Ventures and comes just four months after the company’s pre-seed raise.

Sona combines 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 working hours away from a desk.

Created for industries that employ deskless shift-based staff – such as health and social care, retail, hospitality, and the voluntary sector – Sona lets employees access vital functions such as scheduling, shift allocations, attendance records, and one-to-one and one-to-many communication with a tap.

In just six months, Sona has built and launched its platform to an early set of customers, covering over 10,000 deskless workers within the UK and Ireland, going from pre-revenue to six-figure ARR since incorporating in July 2021.

The London-based startup has now raised an aggregate of $9M since August 2021. It will use the investment to triple its team, with a particular focus on engineering and product development, and to continue its strong growth trajectory.

Prominent new angel investors in the round 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.

Existing investors also participating 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.

Although they make up 80% of the global workforce (over 2.7 billion people), deskless workers have been significantly underserved, with just 1% of funding for enterprise software dedicated to developing technology for employees in frontline jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic is restructuring the labour market and changing attitudes towards frontline work, accelerating the pace of digital transformation in all areas, including people operations.

Many work tasks typically involve multiple disconnected systems and manual processes (often including WhatsApp groups and paper chains). By consolidating them, Sona is 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 repeat founders 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.

Oli Johnson, Co-founder of Sona, comments: “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.”

“Workforce management systems were designed for white-collar industries. As a result, these tools ignore a vital part of society – the frontline worker,” said Asif Moosani, Investor at Gradient Ventures. “Scheduling, shift management, and surrounding communications are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Great Resignation. Steffen and his team empower frontline workers by simplifying their workflows. We’re excited to back Sona as they bring this ecosystem into the digital age.”

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.”