Podcasting startup Spokn closes oversubscribed $4m seed round funding for market expansion
Spokn, the podcasting platform for work, announced it has closed an oversubscribed $4 million seed round with funding from NEA, Y Combinator, along with Reach Capital, Funders Club, Liquid2, Share Capital, SOMA Capital, Scribble VC and Hack VC. The financing will support further market expansion and enable Spokn to enhance the platform for content creators.
Spokn was founded by Fawzy Abu Seif, Mariel Davis and Mohammed Galal and launched as an internal communications platform in November 2020. Since that time, Spokn has grown rapidly, attracting customers such as ServiceNow, Podium, Udemy, Mixpanel, Cedar, ShipBob and Superhuman. Beyond internal communications, Spokn's customers create podcasts for more effective employee engagement; onboarding; diversity, equity and inclusion; and learning & development.
With many companies permanently shifting to remote or hybrid work models, internal communications and employee engagement have emerged as urgent priorities. But companies have struggled to keep remote employees informed and connected due to 'Zoom fatigue,' scheduling issues and the impersonal nature of email and messaging. The popularity of social audio apps like Clubhouse and the increase in podcast listenership during COVID1 point to a significant opportunity for audio in the workplace.
Fawzy Abu Seif, CEO and Co-founder, Spokn: "Employees do their best work when they trust their leadership, are connected to their colleagues, understand their company's direction, and feel motivated to contribute. But existing tools weren't designed to be the cultural connective tissue that remote or hybrid teams need. Podcasting is the perfect fit for reaching employees in the format they love, whether for messages from executives, staff spotlights, or stories on company history and values. Spokn is the only part of a company's workstack that keeps employees connected while giving them a break from their screen."
2021 will be a transformative year for many companies as they transition to permanently remote or hybrid models. Communication is key, and the data shows it. At companies where management communicate openly about the company transformation's progress, employees are eight times more likely to report a successful outcome, according to a survey by McKinsey2.
Ann Bordetsky, Partner, NEA: "As companies adapt to hybrid and distributed work, employees are craving new ways to build community, culture and comradery at work and companies are seeking intuitive solutions for asynchronous work. Communication is the next frontier of workplace SaaS and Spokn is defining a new category with async, audio-first employee engagement."
Companies at the forefront of 'future of work' innovation recognize the potential of Spokn's podcasting platform and have signed on. "At ServiceNow, we believe that when employees have flexibility to do their jobs where, when, and how they need to, they're more productive and more engaged," said Megan Kollar Dwyer, Director, Diversity & Inclusion at ServiceNow. "That's why we're excited to introduce Spokn's podcasting platform for work to our employees. With Spokn, we will tap the power of audio storytelling to develop our managers, elevate voices from across our company, and build inclusive skills and mindsets."
Eric Rea, Co-founder and CEO, Podium: "We scaled very quickly and I was looking for a way to connect with employees without dragging them onto more Zooms. Spokn has been the perfect fit and our weekly podcast on Spokn was an instant hit. Hearing the voices and stories from the leadership team helps employees feel a really personal connection. It's incredible to see the way that our employees have reacted to Podium's podcasts on Spokn."