Manchester start-up Orka raises £29m to scale worker tech products

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Manchester-based Orka Technology Group has raised £29million in its latest funding round.

The fundraise was a mixture of debt financing from Sonovate and equity funding involving the British Business Bank Future Fund and existing investors, including Peter Searle, the former UK CEO of Adecco. It takes the total raised by Orka to £31.5m since the company launched in 2017.

As well as growing Orka Pay, the start-up will use the funding to double its headcount to 50 in 2021 and invest in its full portfolio of tech solutions for shift workers, which also includes the company’s flagship product, labour-as-a-service platform Orka Works.

Orka believes it can cater to the shift towards flexible employment taking place across many industries and with Orka Pay, the company aims to capitalise on the growing demand among businesses and workers for flexible pay options.

Launched last year, Orka Pay enables shift workers at partner organisations to withdraw up to 50% of their wages as soon as they have earned them, providing an alternative to high-interest loans and credit card debt.

The company’s first product, Orka Works (formerly Broadstone), allows workers to quickly and easily find fair and flexible temporary employment with large organisations working in traditional, regulated industries such as security, cleaning and logistics.

It is used by over 50,000 people in the UK to find work, saw 150% year-on-year revenue growth in Q3 of last year and counts G4S and ISS among its client-base. This year, the company will launch its third core product, Orka Check, to improve the process for worker background checks.

Tom Pickersgill, co-founder and CEO of Orka, said: “Four years ago we set out to transform the experience of hourly paid workers, who make up 85% of the global workforce. What we’re doing is unique in this sector, and thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to reach many more businesses and their employees in the coming year – and improve the service that we can offer them.”

Peter Searle, existing investor and former CEO of Adecco, said: “Having followed Orka’s journey closely for a few years now, it’s clear that this is a company truly shifting the dial up when it comes to temporary work.

"They have rightly identified an important gap in the market, as more people seek out flexible employment that fits around their lifestyle, and they have unquestionably established themselves as a leader in worker tech. I’m very excited to be supporting them as they enter their next stage of growth."