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Why We Founded Yoho to Focus on the “Deskless” Opportunity

It’s now been about half a year ago since I quit my job as Operations Director at a manufacturing company. Even though the business was operating in an interesting market niche and the company was growing rapidly, I still felt I was missing something and I just couldn’t get my head around some of the things that had been the standard for ages.

However, before I get to tell why manufacturing is so interesting, I have to go a little further back and tell you about my years as a VC in Silicon Valley. We’ve probably all seen what happens when you bring technology to the office. Slack, Trello, Asana, Dropbox, ServiceNow, Zoom… Over the last 10 years, many of the so-called Software-as-a-Service companies have all become household names. However, what about employees that don’t sit behind a desk?

The 80%
Employees that don’t sit at a desk comprise a 3 billion-person-strong portion of the global working population. Yet despite being 80 percent of the workforce, these “deskless” workers have thus far been overlooked by the technology industry in terms of companies addressing their needs. And so this is exactly the reason why I took the jump from being a well-paid VC in Silicon Valley to a manufacturing manager, to eventually a poor start-up guy today. I bet many of you would do it the other way around and might even skip my manufacturing break in-between. Okay, so let’s get back to the factory floor.

As a manufacturing manager, I often got caught up in the moment, I would get so involved with something that other important stuff would just escape my mind. For example, when a machine broke down, employees were absent or when an audit would take place. In manufacturing, I quickly learned that it’s easy to get distracted and to give priority over priority, over priority… which, after all, ends in getting done barely anything. So then, being half VC-half production dude, I set my mind on software. Sadly, I quickly discovered that most software products are, of course, tailor-made for use by desk workers.

I was wondering, why do we have all those amazing SaaS tools to improve productivity and communication for desk workers such as Slack and Trello, but why does none of them address the needs of the 80% out there in the field? We all have smartphones, we all use Facebook, we shop online, why not make your production job easier with an app?

Focus on the people
With the advancement of mobile devices, wearable gadgets, and other technologies we believe we have now created an opportunity that the industry is ready to take. However, many of the startups that we see in our space (Industry 4.0) make it way too complex. Legacy systems, complex data and lots of hand-holding is not an ideal scenario for a start-up. Therefore we think there’s a whole different angle that many of us overlook: it’s the people that actually turn on the machines every day, that run the factory and keep it in a clean and well-maintained condition.

But then again, the first step is to identify the unique needs of the deskless worker. Like their desk-bound counterparts, deskless workers need access to critical information about company procedures, scheduling and policies. BUT they have an additional requirement: They need to be able to get access to this information anytime and anywhere because they are often on the move. It sounds simple, but since many deskless workers don’t have corporate emails, it’s no wonder that production supervisors are struggling to keep things running smoothly. The consequence? High rates of safety incidents, unnecessary downtime, substandard quality and poor business results.

Traditional approaches like classroom sessions, manuals and learning management systems don’t address the needs of deskless workers. Companies simply can’t afford to have these employees sit in a classroom or at a computer for hours at a time, because it takes them away from their job. Instead, organizations need a way to deliver on-the-job training without interrupting their workflow.

Here at Yoho, we believe that human productivity, communication and engagement have been massively neglected. That’s why we want to change how non-desk workers communicate and access-and share information. With Yoho we promise you that:

#1 You can forget about white-boards and sticky notes;

#2 “Getting caught up in the moment” is not an excuse anymore;

#3 Training and instructing workers becomes a breeze.

At Yoho, we believe software must be easy and intuitive but foremost widely effective. Championing new software in your organization can be a great way to boost your productivity and career if you make the right choice. As you consider to improve floor communications and task management, we’d love to hear if you’d like to try Yoho for a trial. Please feel free to reach out to our team via to learn more!

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