Workforce training app developer Poka adds strategic investor Schneider Electric

Jonathan Shieber
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Poka, a workforce training app and software service for industrial companies, has added to its roster of backers SE Ventures, the venture capital arm of the European energy and automation conglomerate Schneider Electric.

The company has raised more than $23 million in funding so far for its application and software services package that provides training and tips for workers on the factory floor.

The company said it would use the new funding to expand its global marketing through new distribution strategies and to speed up its product development.

Since 2014, Poka has been selling its services to companies including Bosch, Danone, Mars, The Kraft Heinz Company, Johnson & Johnson and Stanley Black and Decker, the company said.

Previous backers of the Quebec City, Canada-based company include Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Groupe Leclerc and CDPQ, according to the company.

For Poka, demand is driven by the combination of increasing automation and an aging workforce creating a skills gap in industrial facilities.

"Poka was designed specifically to address the challenges and needs of large global manufacturers -- many of whom are clients of Schneider Electric," said Poka chief executive Alex Leclerc in a statement. "Our partnership gives us global reach within our target markets and provides value to our joint customers by offering them a more complete path to digital transformation."

For SE Ventures general partner Grant Allen, the replacement of aging technologies around communication and knowledge-sharing in manufacturing facilities represented an obvious investment opportunity. "The tools and systems used to communicate, capture and share knowledge in commercial production facilities are largely outdated, leaving workers without the necessary information to be effective and safe," said Allen.