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WorkHound raises $500K to boost driver retention platform

Iowa-born startup WorkHound has raised $500,000 to “put rocket fuel behind” its worker retention platform for the trucking industry and expand into other high-turnover industries.

“We see value behind what we do in the trucking industry. Our goal is to continue to grow in trucking, but at the same time we’re starting to explore how can we create value in other verticals as well,” co-founder Max Farrell told Clay & Milk.

San Francisco-based Right Side Capital Management led the round.

Co-founded by Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani, WorkHound’s platform centers around giving drivers a way to communicate suggestions or complaints to management, who can then respond or offer feedback.

WorkHound founders Andrew Kirpalani, left, and Max Farrell. (Flow Media/Courtesy of WorkHound)

“In trucking, like many other industries, a driver can be happy on Tuesday but be fed up on Wednesday and quit by the end of the week. It’s that volatile,” Farrell said. “It’s really important for companies to address issues at the speed of business and that’s the platform that we built.”

WorkHound started with trucking because of the industry’s high turnover rate.

Large and small truckload fleets each had turnover rates of about 80 percent in 2016, according to The American Trucking Association. That’s the lowest turnover rate the industry has seen since 2011, the association said.

Right Side Managing Director Dave Lambert said the firm invested because of WorkHound’s founding team and the product’s initial results for customers.

“If they are successful at this, WorkHound will improve the work experience and job satisfaction of tens of thousands of truckers and will drive meaningful financial benefits to the employers,” he said in an email.

WorkHound launched in Des Moines about two years ago and Farrell and Kirpalani quickly entered Omaha’s Straight Shot accelerator. The two then went through the logistics-focused Dynamo Accelerator in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2016 and were also clients of Square One DSM.

Dynamo’s venture fund and Twelve19 Ventures were also investors in the $500,000 fundraise, Farrell said.

The company, Farrell said, now has six full-time employees. Software development is handled in Des Moines, while sales and growth operations are focused in Chattanooga.

The next six months will focus on “stabilization and sales,” he said.

Farrell said he and Kirpalani see a future where WorkHound’s platform can play a role in the oncoming automation of trucking and other industries.

“We see technology like that and we’re actually really excited about it … it’s because autopilots didn’t replace pilots and technology is not going to replace the driver, but it is going to evolve what the role of the driver is or how the driver functions,” Farrell said.

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at

WorkHound raises $500K to boost driver retention platform | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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