Swiss-U.S. joint mobile communications startup Beekeeper announced on Sept. 16, 2019, that it had raised $45 million in Series B funding.
This funding will enable Beekeeper to continue development of its mobile-first business communication platform, essentially a field service management system targeted at workers who may work at a single location but don’t spend much time at a desk. The news was reported in several technology- and venture capital-focused outlets, including this TechCrunch article.
This round of funding added two new investors, Thayer Ventures and Swisscanto, to a list of about a dozen previous backers who also participated in this second round. Three of particular note are Samsung NEXT, Samsung’s technology incubator; Swisscom, a Switzerland-based telecommunications provider; and Swiss Post, the Swiss mail service.
The addressable market for a mobile-first business messaging platform is considerable; desktop-based systems such as Chatter and Slack have made interoffice collaboration and communication much easier. While those products do have mobile clients, they only reach their full potential when used on a computer. Beekeeper is pitching its application as “Slack for non-desk employees,” and claims that 80% of workers fit that description.
Field service management, field sales, and distributed/virtual offices have gained functionality and popularity in step with technological advances; the advent of the laptop computer, the mobile phone, Wi-Fi, and now tablets and phablets, have each increased momentum in those fields and others. In many cases, device-based field service and office communications are a matter of Goldilocks practicality; a full featured computer might be wasted on maintenance workers, for example, while voice-only contact via phone or push-to-talk doesn’t cover all their needs, but a smartphone or tablet app is the right fit.
There is also the global market to consider. In many developing nations, and more than a few developed ones, the only hi-tech item people have access to is the smartphone. Businesses seeking to connect and unify their employees can deploy something like Beekeeper to devices rather than invest in computers and/or telephony infrastructure.
G2 believes the three investors mentioned above might also have a practical stake in the success of Beekeeper, not just a financial one: Samsung sells mobile devices, Swisscom provisions them, and Swiss Post has a large field service force. To wit, a large-scale deployment involving these three backers could already be planned. It is certainly a possibility, and would represent smart use of venture capital and the ability to learn from partner-investors. G2 recommends a closer look at the intersection of field service management and more general forms of team management, as the mobile-first approach could spark a change in business practices if it proves broadly viable.
Marshall is G2’s research principal for sales and customer service applications. This role follows a career as a journalist and analyst covering CRM, customer experience, and social engagement. Marshall's background has led to a deep familiarity with the demands of those markets, as well as the ways other technologies can have a positive effect upon them. His coverage areas include sales, customer service, and contact center.