This year's Remote Manager Report is finally here! Be the first to read it.

Company

Announcing Kona’s $4M Seed Round Led by Unusual Ventures

July 26, 2022
A small icon of a clock for read time.
4 mins

At Kona we’re excited to share that we’ve raised $4M in seed funding to help remote companies stay on top of employee wellbeing.

Sid Pandiya
At Kona we’re excited to share that we’ve raised $4M in seed funding to help remote companies stay on top of employee wellbeing.

Table of Contents

Share this article:

Need help managing your remote team? Try Kona.

One tool for pulse checks, team building, and coaching––in Slack. Free forever. No credit card required.

Start for free

Or book a demo to learn more.

When Andrew, Corine and I met as undergrads at UCLA, we quickly bonded over a shared passion for solving people-related problems. Our conversations became a forum to share war stories about our struggles at work, terrible managers, and failed startups. We realized we’d all been burned by remote work, each in our own way. Even back then it was obvious to us that remote work was the future. But certain things about it are broken.

Since October 2019, we’ve interviewed 1,000+ remote managers to learn more about the key problems they faced with leading teams. We kept hearing the same issues when we asked them about their hardest problems––the softer aspects of teamwork are exponentially more difficult in remote environments. A lack of human connection and belonging leads to tons of burnout and mental health issues.

Since the onset of the pandemic, 75% of American workers have experienced burnout. The writing was on the wall: a prolonged lack of soft skills means workplace mental health is in sharp decline. We’d all experienced this problem before, and it became clear to us that businesses need to foster trust and real human connections. It was with this understanding that Kona was born.

At Kona, we believe everyone deserves to be cared for by their employer. Our mission is to make empathy mainstream at work.

Employee wellbeing is no longer a benefit — it's a necessity.


The rise of chronic stress we saw in our customer discovery wasn’t the only trend impacting people at work:

  • A Generational Shift – Millennial and Gen Z workers entered the workforce, without legacy cultural stigma around mental health. Our high expectations for executives and workplace environments means support and care at work is a basic necessity today.


  • The Great Resignation – Record numbers of Americans quit their jobs after experiencing burnout from companies that never prioritized their wellbeing. The level of attrition witnessed during the pandemic made it obvious that care and empathy is required at work.
  • Difficult Market Conditions – Turbulent public markets mean that a lot of companies have cut back hiring. Layoffs and hiring freezes trigger top performers to seek new opportunities. The best way to retain them is to ensure that they’re happy and cared for.

The group tasked with navigating these tidal shifts is typically the manager. Yet, managers lack support. They’re expected to drive business outcomes, but on top of that they need to build culture, fight burnout, build trust, and foster psychological safety. It’s just assumed that they know how to be great leaders, but they’ve never been equipped with the tools to enable this. Add in a layer of complexity from remote work, and they’re overwhelmed. Their teams are left with a consistently poor work environment and fragmented team culture.

Thank you! Click to download the PDF:
Download
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Want to do more to support mental health in your workplace?

Take the Pledge

Building the employee experience platform that puts people first


At Kona we’re excited to share that we’ve raised $4M in seed funding to help remote companies stay on top of employee wellbeing. This round was led by Unusual Ventures with participation from Evolutionary Ventures, 2.12 Angels, Tony Jamous, Louis Beryl, David Carrico, James Beshara, former Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, and more (including many of our early customers). Kona coaches managers through every interaction with their team, helping them build EQ and develop habits that put empathy first.

Employees with managers that listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out. Today, Kona helps managers do this by creating a safe space for emotional vulnerability and trust. With daily emotional check-ins, they can catch people-related issues in real time and prevent their best people from burning out and leaving. People-first leadership habits are the way to build successful modern-day companies–and the results speak for themselves.


 In 2021, we:

  • Nailed our initial product offering––daily emotional check-ins to catch burnout.
  • We iterated to find initial signs of product-market fit, and worked with top companies like MasterClass, Canva, GoodRx, Oyster, Aircall, and more. 
  • Helped measurably reduce attrition (13% to 0% in one case) and increase employee engagement (25% increase at multiple companies) with our early customers. 
  • Shared thought leadership and best practices for building remote culture in GitLab’s Handbook, Forbes, TechCrunch Sessions, Fortune, Entrepreneur, and have created leadership courses and webinars that will go live in 2022.

Where we’re going 


We’re just getting started. This round of funding will allow us to build our vision of being the people-first employee experience platform. We’ll go from supporting an assortment of individual managers at various companies to becoming the cultural backbone for the top companies in the world.

We’re thrilled to start working with Sandhya Hegde, Partner at Unusual Ventures. From our first interaction, it became clear that Sandhya and I shared a vision for an empathetic future of work. Unsusal’s participation is great validation of our team, our product, and the need for a solution to help remote teams stay on top of mental health and wellbeing.

Join the team

Kona is the employee experience platform that puts people first. Every culture-focused company in the world needs to put employee wellbeing first. We’re building the platform every employer will use to deliver a world-class employee experience.


If our mission excites you, and you want to join a team working to make empathy mainstream at work, check out our open roles. For the latest Kona news, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Meet the Author

Sid Pandiya

Sid Pandiya is the Co-founder and CEO of Kona. He was born in Dubai, and has lived in Hong Kong, India, Los Angeles, and New York. He currently resides in San Francisco. Sid graduated from UCLA with a degree in Computer Science. Fun fact: he can comfortably speak English with an American, Indian, or British (London) accent.

Monthly manager tips delivered straight to your inbox.