UpSmith Powers Its New Skilled Workforce Tool ‘Boost’ With $5M Raise

News of the $5M raise comes as Dallas-based UpSmith launches Boost, a new productivity app that's "a powerful tool to maximize sales performance and technician productivity" in construction and manufacturing. UpSmith Founder and CEO Wyatt Smith, a former Uber Elevate exec, says workers can redeem points earned on the app for tools, prizes, extra vacation days, and more.

Dallas-based UpSmith has raised $5 million in seed funding to help power up Boost, its new productivity app that helps skilled trades companies “win by gamifying technician performance.”

According to the financial blog FinSMEs, the fundraising round was led by Hannah Grey Ventures. Participants included a16z, GSV, Asymmetric Capital Partners, Cubit Capital, TechNexus, Crow Holdings, Kimbel Mechanical, Crescent Ridge, and Karman Ventures, along with other individuals.

“At UpSmith, we’re combatting skilled labor shortages by helping trades businesses solve workforce productivity challenges,” UpSmith Founder and CEO Wyatt Smith wrote on LinkedIn. “Boost helps contractors grow revenue, improve output, and lower costs by incentivizing value-creating behaviors from their teams,”

Seeking to help fill the over 1.3M openings in construction and manufacturing

[Graphic: UpSmith]

UpSmith was part of Praxis’ 2023 Business Accelerator cohort. Onstage at a Praxis pitch event seven months ago, Smith detailed his company’s mission.

“Across our country and around the world, we have a skilled labor crisis,” Smith said at the Praxis event. “Over 1.3 million openings in construction, manufacturing, the industrial backbone of our nation.”

“At the same time, over 15 million people that are languishing, caught in low-value work or out of the workforce altogether, are looking for ways to get back in,” he added. “Our goal is to enhance productivity, to give employers opportunities to increase revenue, and do so in ways that create high purpose, high dignity, high pay careers for a new generation of builders.”

UpSmith’s goal is to bring that need and human potential together, and it’s finding all kinds of people to do the jobs—screening candidates via a video-first sourcing platform.

“We look for people that have transitioned out of our military, people that are looking for opportunities who have come to our country and are looking for that first rung on the ladder, graduating high school students, and people that are looking to just get unstuck to be on gig work or feel that they have better opportunities exist, but the friction for pursuing them is just too high,” Smith said.

Training a new technician ‘in less than 90 days’

“Our first product is focused on upskilling,” Smith said at the Praxis event. “We can source, screen, train, and deploy a new technician in less than 90 days, in many cases driving more than $130,000 of revenue for a firm in just one year.”

“We do this by focusing on competence, on the types of mindsets and behavior markers, non-cognitive skills that people have that enable them to flourish, that when given very focused training, they can very quickly build a set of skills that have immense value in the market.”

In a pilot, UpSmith said it delivered 20 to 50% increases in run rate wages for electrician apprentices in 8 weeks of rapid upskilling, according to the Praxis website. “All 18 candidates hold industry safety certifications, over 94% graduated with mastery in national assessments, and over 83% were hired into careers expected to generate over $2.5M by 2025.”

Launching the new Boost productivity app 

Last week, UpSmith launched its new Boost productivity app with a video blog on its website.

In the video, Smith calls Boost “a powerful tool to maximize sales performance and technician productivity for decentralized teams.”

“Boost motivates technicians with rewards to drive value creating behaviors leading to more revenue,” Smith said. “For example, this connects to your existing systems to reward technicians for offering four options for service for homeowners or create some rewards to celebrate behaviors you want to motivate.”

“These interventions increase sales, conversion, and ticket sizes, but it’s often hard for managers to motivate compliance,” Smith noted. “With Boost, performance culture becomes your competitive edge.”

‘UpSmith points’ can be redeemed for tools, prizes, extra vacation days

Using the Boost tool, technicians earn “UpSmith points” every time they perform value-creating behaviors, allowing companies to motivate, coach, and celebrate field service teams to drive incremental revenue, Smith said.

UpSmith points can be redeemed in the startup’s rewards marketplace for tools, prizes, or extra vacation days—”whatever your team finds most exciting,” Smith said. For every $10 invested, Smith says companies can “earn $50 or more in incremental sales, all while creating a culture of achievement among your workforce.”

Expansion since 2022 launch

By helping to meet a critical nationwide need, UpSmith has seen rapid growth.

“We’re seeing a lot of traction,” Smith said at the Praxis event seven months ago. “We finished 2022 in two states and are now in 11. And after next week, we’ll be in 14. We’re seeing opportunities to take people from low-skilled work to flourishing in a relatively short amount of time, where they can drive a market-based solution to solve one of the biggest crises that our nation faces.”

Startup raised $3.3M in pre-seed funding in 2022

Ex-Marine Darren Green has received HVAC technician training through UpSmith. [Video still: UpSmith]

In October 2022, UpSmith raised $3.3 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz and Boston’s Asymmetric Capital Partners.

Launched in early 2022, UpSmith’s platform helps employers find, train, and retain skilled workers. The company is focused on the manufacturing, construction, and home services spaces—with UpSmith sourcing potential talent, screening and verifying candidates, then partnering with businesses to offer paid eight-week “training accelerators” to candidates. The startup does all this to create what it says are the three important determinants of career routes: “purpose, pay, and accessibility.”

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