Career development platform Pando raises $6.9 million to help stem the Great Resignation
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Knowles-Carter family makes some startup investments, astronaut Jessica Watkins achieves a ‘first’ in space, and a startup founder had good timing with her idea to improve employee retention. Have a relaxing weekend.
– Retention tactics. When Barbra Gago began work on her startup in March 2020, she couldn’t have known that two years later she would be trying to answer the top question on most C-suite leaders’ minds: how do I retain my employees?
The longtime marketing exec is now the founder of Pando, an employee career progression platform that aims to make the insights gleaned from an annual review available year-round—an innovation Gago claims can help stem the Great Resignation. The company is coming out of its beta period and launching with $6.9 million in seed and pre-seed funding, it tells Fortune exclusively. Its $5 million seed round was led by Craft Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau and Correlation Ventures.
While annual reviews and promotion cycles don’t exactly conjure warm feelings among employees or managers, these insights are valuable. But their infrequency can make the process painful, Gago argues. “The biggest mistake that companies are making today is keeping employees in the dark about their future,” she says. “If you keep them in the dark about what their future is at your company, you are basically ensuring they don’t have a future there.”
The Pando platform allows employees and managers to continuously track competency scores on things like communication, project management, mentorship, community-building and other contributions to the workplace. Companies are encouraged to develop clearly communicated hierarchies based on the skills required to advance to the next level.
This steady feedback is not to bombard employees, but to demystify the promotion process. Plus, Gago notes, this format is more equitable, allowing all employees to see what skills are required to advance, rather than only promoting workers skilled at self-advocating, who are often white and male.
On the corporate end, the platform aims to increase each worker’s “employee lifetime value.”
Pando was inspired by Gago’s time as a chief marketing officer for the collaboration platform company Miro, where she says she had little guidance on how to advance a career. She developed a spreadsheet-based system for her team, providing boxes each employee could check to keep track of their progression at work.
That idea is resonating with investors, including Carta CMO Jane Alexander, Notion COO Ashkay Kothari, and former Gainsight COO Allison Pickens.
“It can be very challenging to ensure fairness among team members when a company is growing rapidly,” Pickens tells Fortune. “You have early employees who may have inflated titles but haven’t received a compensation increase in years; you have some newer employees who negotiated for a big pay package that’s in line with what they made at a larger company but far higher than their peers at the new company; and you have very hard workers who sometimes feel taken for granted or who don’t realize until later that they’re significantly underpaid.”
The platform is solving for a “generational shift in employee expectations,” says angel investor Ann Bordetsky, a partner at New Enterprise Associates and former COO at live events platform Rival. Millennial workers want “continuous growth and learning,” she says, as well as a “self-directed career trajectory and … transparency into the promotions process.”
So far, Pando’s customers including OysterHR, Shipwell, Codility, and Casai, and it’s targeting businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees.
Companies have learned how to be agile in their decision-making in nearly every area besides human resources, Gago says. “By not enabling a real-time understanding of how employees are performing,” she adds, “it keeps companies from understanding how the business is doing in real time.”
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