Small business owners already have a great deal on their minds when it comes to their daily business operations, and Minnesota-based WhenIWork believes shift scheduling shouldn’t be one of them. The cloud-based employee scheduling and communication platform offers tools across multiple platforms including web, apps for Android and iPhone, email, and social media to help SMB owners and their employees with their scheduling needs. Since launching in late 2010, the company now sees more than 50,000 monthly active users and hundreds of businesses signing up the service every week, according to CEO Chad Halvorson.
Having worked in several positions at a grocery store and then in web and application development, the idea for WhenIWork has stuck with Halvorson from his days of frustrations as an employee having to go in to the store to check his schedule. “It was late 90s and I was always kind of frustrated having to go to the grocery store to check my work schedule. I thought It’d be pretty cool if I could just go online and check my work schedule so I wouldn’t have to go on my day off or call someone, so that’s kind of where the spark came from,” said Halvorson in an interview with BetaKit. “When mobile started becoming more of a mainstream thing, I thought that it was the right time to go back and look at this scheduling idea and leverage mobile heavily with it.”
After signing up, employers can send invitations to their employees to join the platform, and can start creating and publishing work schedules. Notifications are then sent to employees via SMS, email, mobile apps, and more recently through the company’s Facebook app. Employers can see employee availability for when they need a last-minute shift change, with employees able to request time off, swap shifts, and communicate directly with the employer through the platform.
“We wanted to create an employee scheduling and communication application that was extremely easy for end users to figure out. Because everything else out there is extremely painful, it’s a hassle to set up, a pain to use,” Halvorson added. “We created a platform that is focused exclusively on scheduling and does it really well for our users and customers.”
The SaaS startup targets industries like dining, retail, and healthcare, however has seen a great deal of pickup from the entertainment industries including traction with zoos and amusement parks. It charges roughly $1 per employee per month with monthly subscriptions that range from $12 for up to 12 employees to $99 for up to 100 employees.
The SMB market has been getting a lot attention from startups looking to target specific pain points. Yesterday BetaKit covered Toronto-based ShiftHub, another employee scheduling tool looking to differentiate itself by being employee-first. Another startup Shiftgig is looking to be the LinkedIn for the service industry, and just recently raised funding to scale its platform to connect workers with short-term work. WhenIWork’s emphasis on ease of use and a mobile-first approach to communication are some of the features Halvorson believes will set it apart.
It has already added features like being able to get notifications via Twitter, and allows employees to send SMS messages to see when they’re working. Up next WhenIWork will look to add features that factor in things like labor projections to help SMB owners determine how much staff they’ll need based on past data, in addition to more location-based functionality allowing employees to check-in and get notifications based on where they are. With the online employee scheduling space getting increasingly crowded, the fact that WhenIWork has been around for a few years and has a solid user base should help it gain a footing, however, it will have to continue focusing on making the user experience as effortless as possible before others start making their way in.