working torchformerly known as quick rent, today announced the closing of a $2.2 million seed round led by Capital Tenzing. Along with the increase comes the name change, intended to encapsulate the company’s focus on recruiting and retaining employees.
Talking to TechCrunch, its founders, sisters Deborah Gladney Y Angela Muhwezi-HallHe said the rebranding took a year and a half to do as they became aware of the changing relationship between employees and employers.
“Finding the right talent is only half the battle,” Gladney said. “Where companies really take a hit is because they lose people faster than they walk in the door.”
They realized that their hard work to help companies find the right talent was for nothing if those companies did nothing to hold those workers.
“We started leaning into what happened to people after they hired and started focusing on career development and talent retention tools,” Gladney continued. So our new name is working torch. We want to be a guiding light towards a better career, a better workforce.”
Launched last April, the company says it has a list of more than 40,000 service industry applicants actively looking for jobs, with at least 1,000 interviews per month scheduled through the platform. As part of its rebranding, users will now have access to a career development portal where they can track career growth as well as connect with others who have similar interests.
At the same time, employers will now be able to access new retention tools to look at national and regional data trends, as well as get feedback from their employees about their current work experiences.
Investors attracted to WorkTorch due to changing working conditions in the US TechCrunch previously reported that venture capitalists remain bullish on HR platforms despite “The Big Quit.” In the first two months of 2022, investors poured more than $1.4 billion into the sector. This follows the more than $12.3 billion HR technology startups raised last year.
Gladney said the WorkTorch seed round took about six months to close because the founders i felt pressure of investors in the midst of the economic recession.
“Every check felt like a fight to get,” Gladney said. The best thing about this fundraiser was that most of their existing investors came back. Based in Kansas, the returning capital helped make the duo two of the few black women, if any, to gross more than $1 million in the Midwest. “As two black women in Kansas, we are very proud of that.”
then there they were minimal, naturally, where they felt investors were cheating them, even more so than the last time they raised, when they got over $1 million in funding. “I felt like people were talking to us to check a box or to make us feel like they were doing their part,” Gladney said.
Muhwezi-Hall said people would make soft commitments, do extensive due diligence, and then back out, saying they never really wanted to go into HR.
“It was very strange,” Muhwezi-Hall said. “Many of these people have a presence on social networks that are focused on diversity and inclusion. We were excited to meet them. But when the time came, it was just like any other, probably even worse than venture capitalists who just didn’t respond to our emails because they cheated us and wasted a lot of our time.”
However, they overcame the bias and nabbed major investors like Bloomberg Beta, MATH Venture Partners, Ruthless for Good Fund, and Graham & Walker. The new capital will help WorkTorch expand into several new cities, including Chicago, Denver, Dallas and atlanta. The hackett group found earlier this year that spending on HR Tech would likely increase later in the year. This is Gladney and Muhwezi-Hall finding space in the current trend.
“Employers need better tools and capabilities to meet the needs of their workforce, and service industry professionals thrive when offered opportunities to develop and grow their careers,” Josh Oeding, the founder of Tenzing Capital, told TechCrunch. “WorkTorch has figured out how to deliver value to employers and professionals, and the market is responding.”
Leslie Feinzaig, the founder of Graham & Walker, added: “I was deeply impressed by Deborah and Angela and had one of those magical first meetings where I immediately know I want to invest,” she told TechCrunch. “It struck me that this team deeply understands and respects service workers, in a way that is rare in startup startups. And this translates into metrics that are undeniable and unheard of for a startup at this stage.”
Next, Gladney and Muhwezi-Hall hope WorkTorch becomes the go-to platform for anyone looking to see what’s next in their careers. “This is what makes us different,” Gladney said. “WorkTorch is empowering people to pursue what they are passionate about. And then we join them in helping them get there.”