Why we invested in WorkWhile
by Jomayra Herrera (Partner) and Shauntel Garvey (General Partner)
Everyday we depend on our 83 million hourly workers — the delivery drivers, store cashiers, restaurant servers — who altogether make up over 58 percent of the U.S. workforce. Yet given how essential they are to our economy, they have historically not received the equivalent respect and dignity when it comes to their working conditions, pay and job stability.
Now, they are in greater demand than ever before, as the country wrestles with a labor shortage fueled in part by a pandemic that has spurred many workers to reevaluate their jobs and livelihoods.
Hourly workers are significantly less satisfied than salaried workers across almost every aspect of their job: vacation time, pay, retirement benefits, safety conditions, job security and health insurance, for starters. The vast majority believe they should receive the same benefits as their salaried peers. And over 90 percent of HR leaders agree, because it can cost over $4,000 to replace a worker who has left.
At Reach, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to build a better life — and that means having sustainable working conditions that enable economic empowerment. This is why we are thrilled to lead a $13 million Series A round for WorkWhile, a worker-first marketplace that helps hourly workers find the right shifts and access job benefits, and helps employers find reliable labor. We are investing alongside existing investors Khosla Ventures, F7 Ventures and angels including Katrina Lake.
When we first met WorkWhile CEO Jarah Euston, it was clear that her passion for solving this problem ran deep. Jarah was raised in Fresno, California, where many of her friends and family were hourly workers. She personally witnessed how difficult it was for them to make ends meet and wanted to bring dignity and stability back to their work.
This was the genesis of WorkWhile. While there have been other attempts to create an on-demand marketplace for hourly workers, WorkWhile stands out because it puts the worker first. Beyond just helping workers craft their own shift schedules through an easy-to-use app, the platform provides benefits such as next-day pay, access to telehealth support and accrued sick leave. Other unique benefits, including training in high-demand skills, on the way.
When we spoke to WorkWhile workers, it was clear how the company impacted their lives. One worker recalled how she was living in her car and struggling to make ends meet before joining the platform. Now, she can get the flexible shifts that she needs and is able to afford her own apartment for the first time.
“What I love about working on WorkWhile is that you know exactly how much you’ll be working, what job you’ll be doing, and how much you’ll make before you even accept a shift. There’s no waiting around hoping you’ll get pinged with a job, or feeling pressure to accept a job without knowing if it’ll pay you fairly for your time. WorkWhile provides the stability of a regular paycheck with the flexibility most people need to care for themselves and their families.”
There are countless more stories that make us incredibly excited about the future of this company and its potential impact on millions of lives. Happy workers also tend to be more dependable, and employers value how the platform lets them anticipate and fill high-demand positions. They raved not only about how quickly Workwhile helped them find workers, but also how reliable they were.
As we enter the Great Renegotiation, we are seeing the relationship between employers and employees changing, with power shifting back to workers. They increasingly have leverage to demand better pay and working conditions, which is the perfect tailwind for WorkWhile’s continued growth. WorkWhile is currently in 13 markets, from the big California cities to Denver, Austin, Atlanta, Miami and New York, and has already helped generate millions of dollars for workers across the country.
With this new financing, WorkWhile will expand to additional markets, extend their unique benefits to include training and other services to even better serve their clients at scale, and help many more workers reclaim the terms and conditions of their own employment.
We couldn’t be more delighted to be on this journey with WorkWhile! If this mission resonates with you, WorkWhile is hiring for customer success, data science, engineering, operations, people and product roles.