Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Haystack Helps Companies Manage Remote Workers

For large companies with hundreds — or even thousands — of employees, managing human resources functions and communicating with workers can be a challenge.

Santa Monica-based startup Haystack Team Inc., which announced the formal launch of its platform on March 23, is the latest software developer building new employee management tools for businesses.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Cameron Lindsay said the company was born out of a passion he shared with co-founder Haibo Zhao for the “unloved part of the enterprise tech stack” — the boring but important software that allows companies to keep track of key employee documents and communicate important information, among other functions.

“You have this element called the intranet used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies,” Lindsay said. “It felt like an awesome opportunity for someone to go in there and build a really pleasantly and delightfully designed piece of software.”

Haystack is far from the only company developing intranet systems for medium- and large-scale businesses, but Lindsay said the startup’s platform will set itself apart from competing products through features that gather data from a range of sources, including emails or documents stored in the cloud.

“You’ve already built a foundation at your company,” Lindsay said. “You already have documents and announcements existing in a number of different places.”

Because most competing products aren’t built to mine data from these sources, they can be a headache to set up, Lindsay said.

“We’re able to get you up and running really quickly,” he said. “A traditional intranet might take months to get up and running. Haystack products can get up in days.”

Lindsay pointed out that this will be a key differentiator for the company as businesses attempt to navigate the complicated logistics of reopening offices and handling teams of employees that may continue to work remotely in the immediate future.

“Employers are really concerned about onboarding experiences for new hires,” he said. “How do you get people ramped up as quickly as possible if you can’t be there to hold their hand through the process?”

The company’s platform has already attracted a few customers, including financial services startup NerdWallet Inc. and Baldwin Hills-based direct-to-consumer company MeUndies Inc.

Investors have also taken notice. Haystack announced it had raised $8.2 million in seed funding from Coatue Management, Greycroft, BoxGroup, Day One Ventures, and other investors.

Lindsay said the company would continue to focus on improving its core product and expanding its base of customers using the funds raised so far. That means hiring new employees and making the product more functional on a range of devices.

“We’re really focusing on investing in mobile right now,” Lindsay said. “I think as companies start to approach this hybrid work environment, mobile is going to be key. Even today, a lot of people are on their phones using our products.”