We’re delighted to announce today that Seso has closed its $25M Series A, led by Index Ventures. NFX previously co-led their seed round and as part of this new fundraising we are sharing our rationale for backing Seso.
Agriculture is one of those industries that is often overlooked by traditional tech investors, but is absolutely vital for the functioning and stability of our society. As farms face an ever more challenging business environment, we need innovation that empowers them to focus on what matters most: growing crops and feeding the nation.
Our essential food supply has and will continue to have a deep dependency on labor. The agriculture labor market is massively different from other labor markets in the US, both in the type of work performed and where those workers come from.
And yet, as with other areas of the economy, the agricultural industry faces a record labor shortage, a problem that has been growing for decades with no end in sight. In fact, $3.1 billion worth of crops each year rot in the field because there aren’t enough workers to complete the harvest. And so a large and growing part of the US agricultural labor comes from temporary visas provided to foreign workers, but this process is complicated and time consuming.
That’s where Seso comes in. As the first end-to-end recruiting and workforce management platform for the agriculture industry, Seso helps farms better navigate the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, understand labor laws, and stay compliant, while also helping workers find safe and meaningful employment.
Here’s a look at just 3 of the reasons why NFX is backing Seso.
While the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker program was intended to cut down on the inefficiencies described above and enable U.S. farms to easily fill vacant positions with foreign workers, the program has not delivered on that promise.
The program is ridden with many of the same bureaucratic barriers that other immigration programs face, including making farms and laborers go through no fewer than 15 different application steps which significantly curtails the completion rate of applicants.
All this complexity has created a system in which both farms and laborers drop out of the process causing the jobs to go unfilled or turn to the black market.
Seso cuts down the time to file an H-2A from hours to minutes.
By creating an end-to-end vertically integrated platform that automates the complexities for both farms and laborers, Seso is poised to transform the industry’s labor market.
By automating the H-2A visa process and creating a marketplace of thousands of qualified H-2A workers, Seso solves several of the major pain points facing farmers today.
Without Seso, farmers need to manually file numerous immigration forms, file with various government agencies, wait months to hear back, and then manage hiring, transportation, documentation paperwork, and more. This has led to more than 72% of farms receiving H-2A workers late because of visa application mistakes. Seso automates the process to reduce errors and mistakes.
Their platform offers a centralized workforce management platform that eliminates paperwork, maintains compliance, and reduces the cost to hire workers by up to 24%. They also help arrange transportation for farm workers and provide a comprehensive HR backend to track digitized paperwork and documentation.
Seso also provides a strong social impact by helping traditionally vulnerable migrant workers via offering educational resources, pay guarantees, and meaningful work. The company thoroughly vets the farms it’s working with and offers support to workers throughout the entire process should they have any questions or feel like they’re being mistreated.
Both of Seso’s co-founders have had a unique set of experiences that led them to understand the problem facing both farmers and laborers. The company’s CEO, Michael Guirguis had grown up helping out on a family farm where he saw firsthand the difficulties of finding qualified labor. He also spent time at the White House’s National Economic Council working on labor policy as well as McKinsey & Co. and other companies working on labor marketplaces.
Seso’s Head of Product, Jordan Taylor also grew up working on a family farm and previously worked at several tech companies including the Farmers Business Network, a Unicorn ecommerce marketplace, where he built software products used by tens of thousands of farmers worldwide.
Check out Seso’s website to learn how they’re transforming the agricultural labor market.
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