You’d think an industry like manufacturing would have its own software stack, but in many cases, vast amounts of things are managed by Excel spreadsheets. The thing is, spreadsheets are great for a lot of things, but for manufacturing and especially on the public management front, they’re simply out there. it has To be a better way, AG5 believes. A few investors agreed and 6 million euros started to add to the Dutch startup’s coffers.
“Manufacturing front-line workers are the largest group of workers,” AG5 CEO Rick Van Ecktelt said in an interview with TechCrunch. It says there are 2.7 billion of them worldwide. “At a macro level, the current pace of technological progress, increased change and an aging population mean that the skilled labor shortage is getting worse every year, making our balance sheet economy even more critical. I love the idea that we can make a difference in this big challenge.
The company spent the first few years of its life doing early product/market fit to prove its concept before buying it for institutional investors. Headline was led by Acadian Ventures and a handful of other investors who completed the round. Starting in Germany, the company aims to continue internationalization beyond the Netherlands and expand its integration ecosystem to enable more customers to integrate their existing tools with their HR and learning tools.
Although the company declined to divulge the exact terms of the deal, the company raised $6 million for a “substantial” price.
In a previous startup, AG5’s founders were working on a similar problem using construction equipment through a different lens for emergency responders, including firefighters.
“Firefighting requires highly specialized training. In the same way that the operation of different firefighting vehicles requires very different skills, the same is true on the factory floor. Each machine and task requires specific expertise. I was shocked at how manual and inefficient the entire process was,” says van Echtel. “To a large extent, organizations struggle to maintain an overview of which front-line workers are qualified to operate a particular tool or work on a particular product line. Large HR systems use it, but this software is not designed for talent management. So each company builds its own spreadsheets. It is difficult, does not scale and is prone to error. We help organizations avoid these and provide them with a return key talent management solution that integrates with the software they already use.
Macroeconomics can be on its side, as sophistication is the name of the game.
“The European Commission has made 2023 the European Year of Skills. Twenty-eight jobs, from construction and healthcare to engineering and IT, show a growing demand for high and low-skilled workers,” says van Echtel. It’s a disproportionately important issue to raise digital skills in the workplace, especially in Germany where 19 percent of GDP comes from manufacturing.
Over time, the company wants to establish a skills management system for its employees, so that the teams can be trained and deployed efficiently.
“Whether they work at a fixed desk at a computer or on the factory floor with heavy machinery, we ultimately want to lead to happier and healthier workers,” says van Echtel. “This leads to greater personal empowerment, increased career opportunities and reduced work-related injuries and illnesses.”
The company currently has 31 employees and previous clients include Due Egberts Coffee & Beverages, KLM Air France, Tatasteel and Toyota Bosch.