Our investment in Parsable: Bridging the gap for deskless workers

By: Bill Pescatello

Since we started Evolv Ventures just under 2 years ago, one of the most active areas we have been looking at is the connected worker space. Working with our partners at Kraft Heinz, we have been searching for the next generation of enterprise class digital platforms. Factory and warehouse workers increasingly need modern tools and software to be more productive, efficient and safe.

Through mobile and digital connected worker platforms, frontline workers are provided with real-time data and multimedia work instructions on mobile devices. These platforms allow companies to ensure best practices are being followed throughout plants and are updated continuously, all while collecting workflow data never before available.

While these next-generation digital systems have begun to gain momentum in the industry, plants around the world are still inundated with outdated legacy systems that too often drag down operations. Binders, whiteboards and clipboards are not the exception, but an industry standard. While progress has been made in the last 10 years, there is still a great deal to be done and the need to change is clear to anyone in the space.

If you are an office worker (like most VCs and investors) and not involved with manufacturing or logistics, you likely live in a very different world and may not see this obvious technical gap. With the full weight of private and public capital, some of the best tech companies have been built providing an impressive suite of digital resources and tools that office workers use every day. Software from Google to Salesforce to countless other enterprise software solutions make the traditional office worker more effective at their job. Think about how different office life was just 10 years ago.

On the other hand, if you are one of the 2.7 billion deskless workers in the world (Yes, 2.7 billion!) who do not work in a traditional office setting, it is a different environment. While deskless workers make up over 80% of the workforce, only 1% of enterprise software investment has been focused on deskless workers to date. Workers in factories and warehouses have gone underserved for too long. Due to a lack of funding, difficulty implementing new technologies in industrial settings and just a simple lack of understanding of this environment by investors, there remains a massive opportunity in one of the great underserved markets.

Source: http://desklessworkforce2018.com/

Due to this disconnect and our access and insight into the industry, we became only more interested as we dug deeper. As we got to know the major players, we knew Parsable was the right player to back. They are adding value where it matters most and have taken a real leadership position in the industry.

The value created by Parsable is clear and the tools they add can have a large impact on transforming certain outdated operations. While there are many reasons we chose Parsable, these are some of the more significant capabilities that tipped the scale for us.

1. Job done right the first time, every time

At its core, industrial operations and efficiency are driven by continuous process improvements — how to continually test your best practices and ensure your workers are using them across your industrial operations. Historically, for most factories and warehouses, there are standard operating procedures that are tested and optimized over time. For many companies, this is done annually and oftentimes is centered on updating binders that busy floor workers may or may not follow. Compliance can be poor and critical data-based decisions are often not being made.

Parsable allows companies to digitize those standard operating procedures and easily update them in real time. Workers can follow work orders on mobile devices and ensure jobs are done right the first time, while also empowering workers and managers to make improvements to those workflows easily in real time. If done right, it can have a material impact on quality, productivity and safety.

2. Hits all aspect of industrial operations

The other aspect that is critical for large industrial companies like Kraft Heinz are technologies that are more than point solutions that can address needs across factories, warehouses and multiple use cases. With Parsable, the technology and operating system can effectively be used to organize and give tools to workers doing everything from safety inspection to line change to better managing your supply chain. The use cases are really unlimited and Parsable has an incredible track record of showing value early on and growing their relationships with existing clients.

The numbers and history of this growth is very telling. There are way too many manufacturing tech companies that focus on point solutions that are built for individual factory issues. These companies get stuck in pilots that never expand and the businesses won’t scale. Too many companies have raised large venture funding rounds, but have not been able to generate meaningful ARR from it. Parsable is a different story. It has broken out with an impressive set of customers with large cross factory deals that only continue to grow.

3. Tools and data for the workers when they need it

Like many industries, manufacturing is faced with a multitude of siloed data sets that can be hard to access, aggregate and be made useful. Unlike some, Parsable is not focused on the services work or capital- and time-intensive integrations needed for legacy machinery, but is working with the leading data aggregators and system partners to provide workers with access to data across the production line. They are making critical collaborations and data available where companies need it most and putting it into the workers’ hands. This network of data and integration partners continues to grow and as it gets built out further, their system will only become more powerful and mission critical for large industrial players.

4. Filling the data gap

In the industrial world, the collection and organization of large data sets from equipment, machines and vehicles are front and center. Data scientists and company execs are planning for a world where everything can be quantified and optimized using algorithms, machine learning and AI. Massive investments are underway to better connect with machine equipment and all aspects of industrial operations. Through this work, $100s of billions could be saved in efficiencies, but these projects are still missing data from perhaps the most important input: human labor.

Through Parsable, this no longer has to be a massive blind spot. Time series data can be generated and recorded from whatever human-specific tasks are being performed. Tasks like maintenance, line changes and various calibrations can be quantified by using Parsable’s workflows and mobile apps. How long should a certain process take? If people skip certain tasks, what is the result, and how does it affect operating efficiencies and output?

Parsable allows companies to finally have a full picture of what is happening in their factories and warehouses down to the worker level, which may have the greatest effect on results.

We are excited to announce our investment in Parsable and look forward to working and learning from each other to reimagine what the factory and warehouse of the future will be. More to come…

$100m venture fund backed by Kraft Heinz to invest in early stage technology companies disrupting the food industry