Stoke, an Israeli startup developing a platform to help enterprises hire and manage freelancers, closed $15.5 in Series A funding. The round was led by Battery Ventures, with participation from existing investors: Dynamic Loop, TLV Partners, and a number of the company’s first customers, turned investors.
Hire, manage, and pay freelancers - all from one platform
Stoke develops an all-in-one platform that enables organizations to recruit and manage freelancers as part of the company’s internal operations. Additionally, the Stoke platform divides freelancers into different categories, such as experience, language, location, and more.
Automated tax compliance is also included in the platform, helping organizations hire and meet local regulatory standards in 190 different countries from around the world. The Stoke platform provides enterprise financial and HR teams with complete control and visibility over the company’s budgets and resources for third party contracts.
“Today, when a company looks to hire a freelancer; the recruiting manager needs to find the right one, then get a budget approval, sign them on NDAs and other legals, provide them with software authorization, and so much more. This creates a big problem for team leaders, who have to go through an internal process odyssey just to hire a freelance worker,” explains Shahar Erez, CEO and co-founder at Woke.
The market for freelance focused software products has enjoyed a sharp rise over recent years, mostly due to the increasing remote work trend, challenges recruiting top-tier talent, and of course - “the great catalyst” - the COVID-19 pandemic. While chatting with Geektime, Erez explains what differentiates the Stoke platform from competitors - including Unicorns like Deel and Papaya Global - is the fact that other than payroll for non-contracted workers, the Stoke platform enables all relevant enterprise teams visibility and control over the company’s freelance workforce.
Erez adds that unlike Fiverr and UpWork, which help companies find freelancers, Stoke helps every department manage non-salary workers, from onboarding to payment, and more. He notes that Unicorn companies make up 20% of Stoke’s customers -- including TripActions and SimilarWeb.
While Israel has almost entirely moved past COVID, the Israeli startup does mention the pandemic as a clear cut catalyst for people choosing freelance work over salary and for companies making thinking the same. The flexibility model proved highly attractive to many people who were suddenly out of work - at the same time, companies increased part-time hiring.
According to Stoke, the pandemic reality served as fuel for powering Stoke’s exponential growth since leaving stealth mode less than a year ago -- and the company reports doubling its customers and tripling revenue already in Q1 2021.
Stoke, which was founded in 2019 by Shahar Erez and CTO Hilik Paz, plans to use the funds to further expansion and growth. The company has 18 employees - 12 at Israeli R&D center and 6 at the U.S. headquarters. Stoke has raised $20 million to date, starting with an unreported $4.5 million Seed round.