Orka raises £29m to expand early wage access product for shift workers

By Robert Scammell

Startup Orka Technology Group, which provides tech-based solutions for shift workers, has secured £29m in a funding round.

The Manchester, UK, startup said it would use the funds to double its headcount from 25 to 50 and invest in its earned wage access solution Orka Pay.

Orka Pay, formerly Broadstone, launched in June 2020 and gives employees early access to their wages. Instead of waiting until the end of the month, employees can access up to 50% of their wages as soon as they have earned them, which can provide an alternative to taking out a loan or using a credit card.

The company said it will use the cash to invest across its portfolio of tech solutions for hourly-paid workers and their employers. This includes its flagship product Orka Works, a ‘labour-as-a-service’ platform that helps workers to find flexible temporary work opportunities with large corporates.

The platform uses artificial intelligence to automate day-to-day tasks usually carried out by traditional labour providers such as pay, scheduling, background checking and performance management.

Launched in 2017, the Orka Works app is currently used by 50,000 shift workers.

Last week RotaCloud partnered with Orka Pay, giving the staff management software provider’s 100,000 user base the option to access their pay wages as soon as they have earned it.

Other Orka partners include G4S and ISS.

The latest funding round is a combination of debt financing from Sonovate and equity funding from existing investors, which includes former UK CEO of Adecco, Peter Searle.

Orka also secured cash from the British Business Bank Future Fund, a government-backed fund announced in April 2020 that issues convertible loans to innovative UK companies affected by Covid-19.

It brings Orka’s total funding to date to £31.5m.

“Four years ago we set out to transform the experience of hourly-paid workers, who make up 85% of the global workforce,” said Tom Pickersgill, co-founder and CEO of Orka.

“What we’re doing is unique in this sector, and thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to reach many more businesses and their employees in the coming year – and improve the service that we can offer them.

“The worker landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade. More people are looking for work that fits around their life and want the entire process to be less onerous. Our success since launching proves that there is real appetite amongst businesses and employees for an innovative alternative to the traditional recruitment, onboarding and payment model, saving both time and money.”

Peter Searle, existing investor and former CEO of Adecco, said: “Having followed Orka’s journey closely for a few years now, it’s clear that this is a company truly shifting the dial up when it comes to temporary work.

“They have rightly identified an important gap in the market, as more people seek out flexible employment that fits around their lifestyle, and they have unquestionably established themselves as a leader in worker tech. I’m very excited to be supporting them as they enter their next stage of growth.”


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