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This Australian HR Startup Raises $22.5 million After 17 years of Bootstrapping Humanforce wants to expand its operation in Asia, Europe and North America

By Komal Nathani

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Sydney-based human resource (HR) tech startup Humanforce has raised $22.5 million in its first round of funding, after 17 years of bootstrapping the business. The funding, which was led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Accel-KKR, will be used for expansion in Europe, Asia and North America.

Founded in 2002, the workforce management firm helps employees manage hours, rostering, and payroll data through its Software as a Service (SaaS)-based workforce management tool. The startup is founded by Bruce Mackenzie, who is also the managing director of the firm. According to Mackenzie, what differentiates Humanforce from other HR tech startups is their focus on gig workers and flexible workforce.

Flexible Workforce

The single-handedly founded company by Mackenzie went through several highs and lows in its incredible journey of 17 years. In its first three-four years, the startups achieved its 40 per cent revenue growth year-on-year. Seeing the trend of gig workers picking up in Australia, the startup cashed in on the idea of working on flexible workforce and pivoted to be more focused on the gig workers.

"We realised that we were on to something incredibly big, and a real change agent with the contingent workforce," says Mackenzie in a press release.

Commenting on its first external funding, Mackenzie says, "The contingent workforce is a global revolution in the way we live and work. Today's mobile worker presents multiple challenges for employers when it comes to tracking, planning and payment."

"This complexity has meant that traditional tech platforms in our industry simply aren't fit for purpose, and ultimately leave both employer and worker frustrated. Partnering with Accel-KKR, we're excited to rapidly expand Humanforce's capacity to revolutionise the contingent workforce," he adds.

How the Funding will help

According to Mackenzie, the primary focus in terms of expansion is on the US. With its already successful transition to the cloud and now SaaS, the company has seen sustained growth with an ever-increasing consumer base. The company's incredible management has attracted interest of Accel-KKR, which began as a partnership between venture capital royalty Accel Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 2000.

It also means that it is in the right place to push into new markets. Any such expansion will cost, hence the move to take money from Accel-KKR. This is unlikely to be just about the money. Expansion also requires an understanding of the markets you are moving into. So, Accel-KKR will be providing support through Joe Porten who now has a seat on the board.

The company's flagship product TimeTarget is aimed at hospitality and retail businesses with large numbers of casual employees. It provides a tool that digitises onboarding, time and attendance, employee rostering and employee availability schedules.

But as well as providing a service to employers, for casual workers Humanforce provides tools including an app that lets them see what shifts are available with a variety of their employers, how long it will take them to get there and how much they will make from their shift factoring in expenses like public transport costs. It competes with the likes of $US1.5 billion company Kronos and Michigan-based player WorkForce Software.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!


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