Seso, the workforce management platform for agriculture, announced today that it has closed $25 million in Series A funding. The financing round was led by Index Ventures. Seso's investors include NFX and Founders Fund, co-leads of Seso's Seed Funding, as well as K5 Ventures, Operator Partners, Shrug Capital, and The Chainsmokers' Mantis Fund. With this investment, Seso will advance its mission to create a stronger, more equitable and efficient food production system in the U.S.
Seso is building the first end-to-end recruiting and workforce management platform for the agriculture industry. It is the first technology company to expand employment opportunities for farm workers and deploy software to keep and protect American agriculture. Seso provides compliance, visa automation, applicant tracking, and workforce management tools to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the agricultural sector today.
"America has the most productive agricultural system in the world, but it's dying if we don't have a labor force in place," said Michael Guirguis, Seso's Founder and CEO. "We all treasure food that is grown locally. We built Seso to ensure the workforce is in place to ensure American agriculture and its workers continue to thrive."
There is an ongoing nationwide labor shortage in agriculture that is holding back American food production and it is at a crisis point. Many of the crops people love in their diets-like tomatoes, berries and oranges-have been affected by the lack of workers, but when foods are outsourced from other countries, the U.S loses control over the quality of the crops and the conditions in which they are grown. The country's agricultural production relies on seasonal migrant workers, but the process of hiring and managing those workers can be prohibitively difficult. U.S. farms are facing unprecedented business pressures and lack a system of record to manage their workforce. Seso is bridging that gap.
"Seso is taking an innovative and laser-focusd approach to tackling a major problem in an underserved vertical-U.S agriculture," said Nina Achadjian, Partner at Index Ventures. "Their software provides vital tools that will have a positive social impact on the labor force and ensure that American food production can meet its full potential. This investment will fuel Seso as the company enters the next phase of its growth."
For every two open jobs in agriculture, there is only one job applicant. Bringing workers to the U.S through the H-2A visa, an uncapped visa for farmworkers that is meant to supplement domestic farm labor, has bipartisan support, but it is one of the most difficult bureaucratic programs to apply to. Farmers have previously had to rely on middlemen to bring in H-2A workers and the process is highly fragmented and riddled with inefficiencies. 72 percent of farms have received H-2A workers late because of visa application mistakes and $3.1 billion worth of crops each year rot in the field because there aren't enough workers to complete the harvest.
"While there has been heavy investments in improving food production in the field with technology like drones and sensors, the biggest spend in agriculture is actually labor, and there have been no innovations in workforce management until now. Seso is addressing the labor shortage and helping farms manage their workforce in an ethical and sustainable way," said Jordan Taylor, co-founder of Seso.
Seso streamlines the process of applying to the H-2A visa program. It also provides agricultural employers access to qualified labor through a database of thousands of H-2A workers. The software helps farms across the country find harvesters, communicate with workers, and keep track of work flows. By centralizing workforce management, Seso helps farms maintain labor compliance, transitions farms to digital (getting rid of paperwork), and enables farms to do their own recruitment. Seso saves farms up to 24 percent per worker while also making it easier for workers to come to the U.S, have a more consistent work life, and earn more money while supporting food production.
"Seso's end-to-end platform automates many of the complexities holding back both farms and laborers who are helping feed our nation," explained Pete Flint, General Partner at NFX. "The Seso team has created a rare win-win-win scenario by helping workers find good jobs, understaffed farms hire skilled laborers, and consumers save money at the grocery store."
Guirguis was inspired to found Seso after helping his cousin on her farm in California's central valley. She wanted to buy the property next door, but did not have the labor to service it. Michael, who built a career around employment policy, and labor markets, realized the labor issue was huge in the agriculture industry. Since launching in 2021, Seso has signed 80+ customers, including 7 of the largest 20 employers in the industry. The founders of ServiceTitan, Flexport, Ramp, Workrise (formerly Rigup), and Motive (formerly KeepTruckin) invested in this round along with many of the largest farms in the U.S. This investment will enable Seso to embark on the next phase of the company's growth. Seso plans to build additional HR software and financial services to expand workers' access to the financial system for the first time, addressing a $14.8 billion market opportunity.
Seso is a vertical software company for agriculture. Seso is addressing the growing shortage of farm labor in the U.S by automating the H-2A visa, creating a digital system of record to connect match workers and growers, and providing workforce management software to farms. Seso's mission is to provide agricultural workers with meaningful, safe employment opportunities; increase the agricultural workforce in the U.S; and reduce admin costs to employers through software.
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