Our latest investment: Shift Messenger, a communication tool designed for hourly workers

With more and more messaging platforms emerging, members within groups and communities are more likely to communicate across multiple platforms (SMS/iMessage, Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook messenger, etc.), and therefore, in a less consistent and disparate manner.  As a result, we feel there is a great opportunity for startups to provide a better, more targeted experience for these groups and their communication needs.  Along these lines, we’re excited to announce our investment in Shift Messenger, a messaging app designed for hourly workers – it particularly gives these workers an easy way to communicate and ask co-workers for help covering a shift.

Why are we excited about Shift Messenger? Four reasons:

  1. It’s designed for an underserved vertical. While there are plenty of collaboration and communication tools built for office workers – such as Slack, HipChat, and Yammer – few tools cater to the 600 million global/30 million U.S. hourly workers in retail, restaurants, and healthcare. As a result, these workers typically rely on ad hoc solutions like phone, texting, and Facebook groups to swap shifts.
  2. There’s a frictionless setup.  No one has dedicated work emails within the hourly worker community, making it hard to communicate worker-to-worker or employer-to-employee unless people share their personal phone numbers or connect via Facebook. That’s why we were particularly excited to see that users don’t need to connect their phone number or Facebook account to sign up with Shift Messenger. No signup is necessary for Shift. New members of a community just need to be approved by an existing member.
  3. They take a bottom-up approach.  Shift Messenger is very much a member-driven community. No integration, or approval, is required with managers or enterprises. A worker can create a community around his/her workplace and invite others to it. Ultimately, once there’s a critical mass of employees using the app in a particular location, management will want to take advantage of the platform to communicate with their employees – a common trend with the consumerization of the enterprise.
  4. It’s ripe for strong viral effects.  A large percentage of hourly workers either work for multiple companies at the same time, or jump between companies at a higher rate than office workers. This means there’s a strong opportunity for cross-pollination: if you have been using Shift Messenger at one job, you’ll be likely to introduce it at your next job rather than go back to using an inferior solution.

Shift Messenger was founded by Austin Vedder (CEO) and Matt Tognetti (CTO), former Redbeacon employees who saw the scheduling problems facing retail workers after Redbeacon was acquired by Home Depot. They are also alumni of the most recent Y Combinator batch (YC W15).

We’re excited to be a part of their journey as they build a suite of communication tools that will transform the way that non-office work environments and their teams operate.

To learn more, visit http://www.shiftmessenger.com/ and follow @ShiftMessenger on Twitter.

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