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Natter raises $1m to bring watercooler chats to the remote workplace

London-based Natter has raised $1m in pre-seed funding to develop a virtual communication tool that aims to bring watercooler conversations to the remote and hybrid workplace.

Natter’s software uses data analytics and “intelligent-matching algorithms” to match employees for short video conversations. The tool is designed to allow “meaningful” conversations between employees, whether they’re remote or based in the office.

The startup said it was looking to solve the problem of social and hierarchical bias at work, in which remote employees have fewer workplace social interactions than their office-based peers. Many companies are choosing to keep flexible working practices from the pandemic and are commonly employing a hybrid approach.

Natter was founded by a team of former BBC, Google, Salesforce, Farfetch, Facebook, Deloitte and Uber executives.

It has emerged from stealth mode after developing the tool at WeWork’s Growth Campus in London. It is currently testing the software with early access partners including University College London, WeWork, Kraft Heinz and World Remit.

The Natter funding round involves participation from a slew of angel investors who bring tech expertise from London and Silicon Valley. It also involves early investors in Ripple, Zuora, and Flexport.

Natter funding: Creating virtual serendipity

Natter’s team is split between San Francisco and London, while its technology combines proprietary video, intelligent matching algorithms and data analytics technology.

The platform is also being used by early partners to provide mentorship programmes, drive innovation, capture real-time employee feedback and insights, encourage cross-company mental well-being check-ins, and new starter onboarding.

Natter is aiming to onboard over 100,000 users in the coming months.

“Distributed work has enabled huge improvements in flexibility, wellbeing and productivity,” said Charlie Woodward, co-founder and CEO of Natter. “Yet, social connection and the vital cultural dynamics brought about by interactions between colleagues and leadership remain largely neglected. We built Natter to get people talking about what matters most, with the people they may otherwise never interact with – regardless of their seniority, background or location.”

Kate Faxen, head of employee experience at UCL, said: “Natter helps our community of staff and students by recreating the spontaneity of those serendipitous corridor conversations that we all miss in our new, virtualised work environment. It enables us to understand how our people are doing, while also helping them to better connect with each other. We’re now able to collate both quantitative and qualitative data from hundreds of focused conversations in minutes on the subjects that matter most.”

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