RTIH will get the lowdown on Sona, which not too long ago raised a $2.2 million pre-seed spherical because it appears to be like to speed up the event and adoption of its app for retail staff.
RTIH: Inform us about your self and Sona
SWP: I’m one of many three co-founders behind Sona. Initially from Denmark, I’ve lived and labored throughout Europe and Asia.
I arrange Rocket Web within the UK and I’ve been lucky sufficient to have been concerned with a number of startups that went on to hit unicorn standing and obtain huge exits corresponding to Lazada and HelloFresh.
We constructed the Sona employee app for the precise wants of retail staff and employees in different ‘deskless’ industries.
The issue for a lot of frontline retail employees is that a number of features of managing their work – checking their schedules, reserving go away, submitting suggestions – contain numerous handbook forwards and backwards with managers and HR.
Sona is a cell hub for all of those duties. Colleagues can:
View and declare shifts immediately
Entry and handle their schedules
Guide annual go away
Get actual time firm updates and message crew members one to 1
Depart suggestions for managers and head workplace
We make these frequent duties extraordinarily straightforward and handy for workers to finish autonomously in order that they really feel extra empowered and valued at work.
Then, as extra workflows will be automated, managers are freed as much as give attention to mission essential work.
RTIH: What was the inspiration behind setting the model up?
SWP: Beforehand we’d constructed our personal know-how to cease us being overwhelmed by handbook processes as we grew and ran ‘gig economic system’ workforces (predominantly made up of shift-based employees).
By that we came upon that most of the firms we labored with didn’t have their very own equal.
At one level a candidate of ours – who’d been working for a significant UK retailer – confirmed us a WhatsApp group full of images of paper schedules that had been annotated in pen.
Over time a sample emerged throughout our shopper base and we realised there was an unbelievable alternative to create one thing much better.
RTIH: What has been the trade response to this point?
SWP: The implausible response from our early clients is what made us so enthusiastic about Sona. We’re working pilot initiatives with two nationwide retailers and have been getting optimistic suggestions from the groups we’re working with.
One among them has seen new patterns of cross working between departments emerge that merely wouldn’t be doable if their groups didn’t have the complete visibility of accessible shifts that we allow.
All of the suggestions we’re getting helps us to construct out our product roadmap and make sure that the app is as appropriate as doable to be used throughout the retail sector and its provide chain.
RTIH: What has been your greatest problem/setback?
SWP: As Sona was born in the course of the pandemic we now have needed to do extra on a distant working foundation than we might have preferred.
On condition that the product we’re constructing is in a comparatively new class we might ideally be spending a number of time on the bottom with our clients attending to know their individuals and operations and that simply hasn’t been doable.
We’ve, nonetheless, been transported into our shopper’s dwelling rooms through Zoom which has been an attention-grabbing expertise and we now have managed to construct sturdy relationships that approach too.
The advantage of on-line conferences is probably the power to leap on video calls way more often in comparison with in-person conferences which is effective too.
By way of our crew, it helps that everybody is already used to this manner of working, however there are nonetheless some features of collaboration – particularly the extra inventive aspect – which can be more difficult when you’ll be able to’t all be in the identical room.
Additionally, nothing beats with the ability to toast to success in actual life, so we’re trying ahead to our subsequent all-company get collectively to have fun our progress up to now.
RTIH: What are the most important challenges going through the omnichannel retail sector proper now?
SWP: As tiresome as it’s to deliver up the ‘c-word’, its long-term results have a number of implications for the way forward for retail.
From a buyer perspective, intervals of lockdown have created loopy peaks and troughs in demand and it’s nonetheless an enormous problem to foretell firstly what demand goes to be like for the remainder of this 12 months, subsequent 12 months, and past and secondly the place that demand goes to return from – is it on-line, is it shops, and which shops?
From a staffing perspective, placing present availability points apart, we’re seeing a long run restructuring of the labour market and everlasting shifts in what individuals count on from their employer.
Although not as stark right here, retail has been a significant sufferer of the ‘nice resignation’ within the US because the pressures of (and unplanned time away from) work in the course of the top of the pandemic have led them to reevaluate the position of labor of their lives.
So the problem forward for retailers isn’t just to place individuals in vacant roles however to utterly evaluate and overhaul working practices, worker advantages and firm tradition to make sure they will appeal to expertise in an more and more aggressive jobs market.
RTIH: What’s the most effective query about your model requested of you latterly by an investor and/or a buyer?
SWP: It’s in all probability “the place did the title come from?” When brainstorming we knew it wanted to be brief, straightforward to pronounce and work in a number of languages.
We ended up taking ‘Sona’ from the center of the phrase ‘private’ and it was just about everybody’s favorite from the beginning. The dictionary definition of non-public is “belonging to or affecting a specific particular person fairly than anybody else”.
Sona represents our perception that know-how that works for the person creates essentially the most worth for the entire. As an added bonus, ‘sona’ is the Irish phrase for blissful, which is apt as we wish to assist staff be ok with their work.
RTIH: What can we count on to see from Sona over the subsequent 12 months?
SWP: We’re a younger firm so we’re presently targeted on our early clients and constructing wonderful experiences for them.
We’ll be opening up the platform to new clients very shortly and we now have a packed roadmap that features 4 to 5 new characteristic areas we plan to launch by the top of the 12 months.
Then it’s all about progress so we’re excited to deepen our engagement with the retail neighborhood and assist extra operators to get extra flex from their present workforces, interact their groups and return extra time to their managers.
Hopefully that each one means your readers will probably be listening to extra in regards to the outcomes of our work within the months to return too.