This SaaS startup offers a fully immersive employee engagement platform for corporates

With the onboarding of new employees and engagement of current employees becoming a key mission for corporates in the new normal, Bengaluru and London based startup Wurkr scales up to 1,500 offices.
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It's hard to be a new employee during the pandemic. After the customary introductory meetings with colleagues over video or audio calls, in most cases there are no further avenues for social meetings, leaving the new employee rather isolated.

Wurkr, founded by Annil Chandel and Tim Lloyd, enables team management and employee wellbeing on a platform. The app encourages impromptu social interactions in distributed teams. It empowers collaboration and creativity by enabling spontaneous chats, building and maintaining company culture within remote teams.

"Wurkr makes it simple and easy to onboard new team members. It allows them to quickly feel like a part of the company within a distributed team environment from wherever they choose to work around the globe. It has especially become relevant now, with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wurkr predates the COVID-19 pandemic. It assists in the digital transformation of businesses. In simple words, Wurkr facilitates, encourages, and enables a ‘working together from anywhere’ ecosystem in a video-enabled fully immersive workplace," says Annil.

Wurkr startup snapshot

The early days

Annil and Tim started their careers at SThree Plc, a specialist staffing organisation based in London. Tim was one of the first five employees of the company in 1986, and Annil joined in 1993. The colleagues turned friends co-founded a ‘remote-first’ recruitment business called KnownFour in London in 2015, placing high-end technology staff into companies around the world.

The duo built a team of distributed recruiters working from various locations either in their homes or coworking spaces, and started looking for collaboration software to help them stay connected online. They quickly realised that an off-the-shelf solution did not exist in the industry. So in 2017, they built their own ‘working from anywhere video app, which is now called Wurkr.

Like all countries, the digital transformation of business in India was inevitable but slow. The government’s Digital India initiative has encouraged many businesses to adopt a digital-first philosophy, but the progress on implementation has been slow. However, with the current pandemic, the industry reality has changed, and digital transformation has been almost overnight.

The startup has serviced over 200 clients in India across industries such as staffing and recruiting, marketing, financial services, human resources, and many more. Wurkr offers corporates the advantage of having their employees feel like they are in the office through their unique UI. Other solutions that exist in the startup's platform are Zoom or MS Teams.

"We are supporting business transformations during this unfortunate pandemic by offering, at least until the end of 2021, a free Wurkr online office to every subscriber working from home and wanting to stay connected to their colleagues. It’s very simple; using a web browser, clients can log into the app and appear in the virtual office with colleagues. They then move between office rooms virtually, with the aid of audio and video facilities all the time. Users can also invite guests who enter with a web link, and it does not require any downloads," says Annil.

Their first customer was KnownFour, a staffing and recruitment firm. The founders have invested approximately $500,000 of their money into this venture.

A key difficulty for the startup has been getting the technical learning and innovation to create an immersive workplace, something that needs continuous tweaking to ensure scalability, robustness and stability. The founders believe they have to constantly innovate to keep the product fresh.

"We have a per user per month subscription model, and after a free period, we offer customers small, medium, big and enterprise plans with all-you-can- consume video connectivity," says Annil.

He adds that while the app is simple to understand and use, the difficulty will come when they need to scale and compete with video applications.

Wurkr founder, Annil Chandel

The next 18 months

The startup has an aggressive but simple plan for the next 18 months. They want to grow to two million users by the end of 2021, and plan to raise capital to scale up the growth. They also plan to hire a team of outstanding SaaS experienced professionals, and increase marketing efforts.

"We have seen an amazingly positive impact on the environment since the pandemic due to a change in lifestyle, and that must continue. Work digitisation technologies must be sustainable to help reduce greenhouse gases and positively impact the environment, while also elevating the lifestyle choices that people have," says Annil.

They currently have around 1,500 offices created, which span over 25 markets ranging from higher education, technology, automotive, public bodies and manufacturing to markets as diverse as BioTechnology - these organisations are spread over every continent and 40 plus countries globally.

The value addition that Wurkr offers is that it’s using technology to not only empower the distributed workforce to stay connected and work together, but also facilitate social interactions that a physical office does.

The company believes with the inclusion of more youth in the workforce, the demand for flexible and remote working options will increase. Wurkr’s customers include Belong, Hive Mind, Swansea University and Happy Monday among others. Being a fully immersive video platform, it is a lot more engaging than meeting tools like Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams. The startup does not want to disclose its revenues. Annil believes video-based engagement is here to stay.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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