One of the reasons restaurant owners give for moving towards robots is that they have a hard time finding human workers. We’re still a ways off from a full robot restaurant revolution, so in the meantime restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses can find qualified workers to pick up shifts through platforms like Instawork, which announced today that it has raised $18 million in new funding.
The round was led by Spark Capital, GV, and Burst Capital, with participation from existing investors Benchmark, Y Combinator, Tuesday Capital, and SV Angel (hat tip to VentureBeat). This brings Instaworks total amount of funding to $28 million.
Through Instawork, qualified workers like servers and chefs can post their services and look for shifts, sometimes at the last minute. Instawork vets all candidates, checking references and ensuring they are qualified to do the work. Companies post shift openings, and after a worker selects and completes a shift, they can be rated, and even requested for future shifts. Instawork charges companies a per-shift booking fee, and takes care of the insurance, billing and payments.
Right now, Instawork is available in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. However, as part of the funding announcement today, the company said that it is expanding to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa, Arizona.
If you consider that there are more than a million restaurants and 15.3 million restaurant workers in the U.S., it’s no wonder that there’s a mini-industry sprouting up to connect the two. In addition to Instawork, there are startups like Jobletics, which does much the same thing, and Shyft, which lets employees more easily swap shifts amongst themselves.
Who knows? Maybe services like Instawork and others will work so well restaurants will have an easier time finding workers, though that probably won’t stop the robots.