Sanish Mondkar Builds Legion Workforce Management Software To Turn Hourly Jobs Into Good Jobs.
Given the size and complexities of the global workforce, it’s not surprising that the global workforce management software market is large and growing, valued at $7.03 billion in 2020 and expected to reach $9.93 billion by 2026, according to Mordor Research.
Up until recently, most of these solutions were automated versions of what managers used to do by hand on spread sheets creating work schedules and calendars. Sanish Mondkar sought to change that for the better with the founding of Legion Technologies in 2016. Along the way he sought to improve the lives of hourly workers and gig workers.
The fast-growing, Redwood City, California-based Legion Technologies features an AI-powered workforce management platform that optimizes labor efficiency and employee engagement. It’s founder and CEO, Mondkar, had been thinking deeply about the work force management software category while he was Chief Product Officer at global software powerhouse SAP.
“It was part of my job, but also very much part of my interest to look at software categories and especially enterprise focus, software categories; how they evolve, and how they’re being disrupted by the emergence of things like the cloud. That happened in pretty much all software categories. And I was very curious about how come workforce management still did not have any cloud-based, provider who sort of did what Salesforce did, for example, for CRM; came in with a new model and good user experience and really took a significant market share. That didn’t happen in workforce management,” says Mondkar of his early thoughts about the category.
In 2015, he left SAP for reasons unrelated to workforce management software and decided to leave the Silicon Valley world behind to see the country. “I was taking some time off and just digging into to topics of interest, including talking to folks in my network. I took this great, almost two months, cross country road trip, visiting national parks and sleeping in my car with my dogs. It was great,” says Mondkar
In his journey, Mondkar got to know people at what he called “real businesses,” and how people work and the challenges they face. He observed some common problems and challenges amidst all the help-wanted signs on restaurants and cafes.
“I used to talk to all of these folks and a few patterns started emerging and I still had this thought about workforce management in the back of my mind, but now I’m looking at real-world problems that consistently resonated across every shape and size business who hire hourly workers, because they are dealing with some very similar problems,” says Mondkar.
Everybody was concerned about labor costs. But also increasingly, these businesses were dealing with new complexities that did not exist before with delivery services and digital ordering systems that would make hiring and staffing more unpredictable. The biggest concern, according to Mondkar, was the rise of gig economy jobs and how it offers an alternative to the workforce that they used to be able to depend on hiring during summer and peak season.
“In that six months journey, when I was having fun and doing a lot of research, the idea turned from this being a big business opportunity to reinvent workforce management, to almost a driven opportunity to improve our hourly jobs and turn them into good jobs,” says Mondkar. “If we can do that, if we can bring this technology driven assistance in whatever shape or form at that time, then it improves the experience for both sides.”
And in that moment Mondkar found both a business opportunity and a mission and set about building the Legion platform. On returning to the Bay Area, he met with Jacob Jaber, CEO of his favorite coffee, Phil’s Coffee, who was gracious enough to work with Mondkar to test and improve his platform with his workforce.
After 18 months of iterating, the Legion platform was formally commercialized in 2017. Today, the company has over half a million employees using its platform and is experiencing triple digit growth every year, year over year. Driven by the Pandemic, their growth was accelerated even further as companyies scrambled to adopt digital tools to better connect their workforce. “Last year was a really a big year for us. We grew 350% and that growth continues this year,” says Mondkar as the company expands beyond restaurants and retail into hospitality, distribution centers and manufacturing.
Such growth has attracted $85.5 million in total venture funding, including its most recent $50 million C Round in May 2021, led by Stripes. Other investors include Norwest Venture Partners, XYZ Venture Capital and Webb Investment Network, First Round Capital, NTT Docomo and Dollar General.
Mondkar is a relative latecomer to the startup world, having spent most of his successful career climbing the corporate IT and software product development ladder. He grew up in Mumbai, India and graduated from Pune University with a degree in computer engineering. He moved to the US to attend graduate school at Cornell, where he graduated with his master’s in computer science. From graduate school he went to work for GE (now Verizon) in Dallas. He headed to Silicon Valley when he joined Ariba, where he worked his way up to EVP and Chief Product Officer. He took a similar role at SAP when it acquired Ariba, before leaving the safe confines of the corporate world to found Legion.
As for the future?
“We exist to turn hourly jobs into good jobs. As an innovator, the great thing about being in the labor space is there is really no horizon to how many problems we can solve. And so, I fully expect, five, 10 years out, we will still be very excited about new opportunities, new ways to make hourly jobs, good jobs,” concludes Mondkar.