Aussie HR tech startup Pyn has raised $10.4 million in funding, led by ultra high-profile Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, which is making its first investment in Australia.
Atlassian co-founder and co-chief Scott Farquhar also participated in the raise, along with BambooHR co-founder Ryan Sanders.
Pyn was founded back in 2019 by two bonafide veterans of the Aussie startup scene — Jon Williams, one of the co-founders of Culture Amp, and Joris Luijke, former vice president at Atlassian and Squarespace.
In the same way platforms like Facebook make recommendations based on what they know about a user’s age, demographic and life stage, Pyn allows businesses to use what they know about employees to communicate more effectively.
For example, if a person has direct reports for the first time, they could be automatically sent information on what to do in your first week as a manager, Luijke explains.
“We make that process ridiculously easy,” he says.
In July last year, the startup secured $3.1 million in seed funding. Since then, Williams says it’s been “a busy year.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the almost overnight shift to remote work “exposed a lot of weaknesses” in the way companies communicate, and some of their broader processes, he says.
While last year many businesses were just trying to keep their heads above water, by the time 2021 rolled around, those conversations were shifting. People are now thinking about hybrid work models, communication and how to best manage employee information.
“This is a core part of what a business needs to survive now,” Williams says.
Remote work post-COVID
Remote working was one of the things that fueled a tech boom during COVID. As an obvious example, tools like Zoom and Slack saw a spike in usage, and we’ve also heard more about HR tech in the past 12 months.
Luijke says we’re seeing businesses move to a hybrid model that’s actually further accelerated growth for Pyn.
“Businesses cannot rethink all their existing processes through that new hybrid lens,” he explains.
Even relatively simple processes like onboarding become complicated, as new hires must meet some people in the office and some people online. Pyn is designed to manage those processes differently, and with each person’s personal circumstances in mind.
The co-founders don’t disclose any revenue growth figures, but the startup now counts the likes of Shopify, data management giant Rubrik and equity management platform Carta as clients.
For Luijke, revenue growth is just one indicator of success.
“For us, to have leading brands sign up is probably even more important,” he says.
When Silicon Valley comes to us
It was also a big win for Pyn to attract such a globally renowned investor in Andreessen Horowitz.
The ongoing COVID-19 environment means this is the kind of opportunity investors are looking for, Williams explains.
In fact, the co-founders weren’t seeking investment. It was David Ulevitch, a general partner at the Silicon Valley firm, who approached them.
“This is a gap they see in the market,” Williams says.
“For us it just made sense.”
The investment also shows Australian startups are well and truly on the radar of global venture capital firms. It means Aussies can build and grow their businesses here, continuing to grow and bolster the local ecosystem.
“When I first started my career in tech, you almost had to move to Silicon Valley and build your business there,” Luijke explains.
That’s not the case anymore. The likes of Atlassian and Canva have proven you can build “something really world class” in Australia, he says, and all of that fosters the local ecosystem.
Pyn’s new funding will be used to build out a major engineering hub locally, even while it focuses on taking the product to market in the US.
It also simply gives them the room to grow into their vision, Williams says. There’s a lot happening in the world of remote and hybrid work and Pyn is seeking to be a leader in this space.