After securing $1.5 million in seed-round funding, a startup dedicated to employee retention is now seeking a few more employees to retain. 

WorkHound, the Des Moines-based startup that gives “undesked” employees a mobile platform to send anonymous feedback to management, seeks to grow from 12 full-time workers in Des Moines and Chattanooga, Tenn., to a team of more than 20 by the end of the year. The fundraising round was led by Right Side Capital Management of San Francisco, and included Comeback Capital of Cleveland. 

A larger staff will help WorkHound expand from its current focus industry in trucking to reach employees in careers that might feel isolating without an immediate office network. 

“WorkHound has always been built to be sort of a broader platform,” co-founder and CTO Andrew Kirpalani said. “We really just focused our sales and marketing efforts in trucking early on because there was sort of a big, bleeding obvious problem in that industry. It was already top of mind to some degree in that industry.” 

Only 1 in 5 employees in the U.S. sits at a desk during their job, Kirpalani said. That affects not only the trucking industry, which WorkHound has focused on since its launch in 2015, but supply chain management, non-hospital health care workers such as traveling nurses, solar panel installation and other credentialed services careers. 

“That represents 23 million workers. And all of those workers kind of have a similar challenge in that they are distributed from their management structure, distributed from their offices. They may not work directly with their co-workers in a day-in, day-out basis,” Kirpalani said.

Skilled staff for those positions becomes harder to find, recruit and retain in companies, he said. 

“When you don’t have a connection or you can’t get their feedback, that means you can’t get the data from the eyes and ears of your company,” Kirpalani added. 

WorkHound is meant to be as frictionless as possible, and for mobile employees, it actually meant ditching the mobile app model. Instead of requiring an account for every employee, WorkHound sends a text message with a link that opens up a web browser asking for employee feedback, which is submitted anonymously.

“We know now that people are experiencing ‘app fatigue,’ and it’s actually a pretty high bar to get someone to go into an app store, download an app, open it up, create an account, register with the system,” he said. “They’re in and out in under 90 seconds.” 

WorkHound previously raised about $500,000 in 2016 and has relied jointly on that seed funding and on revenue growth to expand the business. Kirpalani and co-founder/CEO Max Farrell were accepted into the Chattanooga accelerator Dynamo, which focuses on logistics technology. Today, the company serves about 50 clients.

“We’ve kind of bootstrapped, but we did end up taking investment,” Kirpalani said. “We’re not based out of San Francisco and New York, where you have easy access to a kind of traditional venture funding route. … WorkHound is kind of a contrarian company in that we’re trying to grow quickly and leverage some of the value of venture funding and things like that, but we’re not choosing to be based in New York or San Francisco.”

The new funding announcement is “really about, you know, pouring gas on the fire,” Kirpalani added. That means seeking out more engineers in what is already a competitive hiring market.

“One of the big reasons for us to go get more resources was so that we can afford to compensate really high-quality talent, to augment the really strong core team that we’ve already built,” Kirpalani said. “It’s small but mighty, right? [We’ve] been able to do a ton, and those people have been loyal and done a lot of good work, but we need to get them some help.” 

The company set goals to reach more than $2.5 million in annual revenue by the end of this year, and $7.5 million in annual revenue by the end of 2020. 

“Those are lofty goals, but if we get a few of the right people in place and execute on our goals, I think we can definitely get there. Those would be huge wins for us,” Kirpalani said. “We’ve worked really hard over the last four years. … We’ve done a lot of learning, and we’re ready to harvest those wins, so to speak.”