Natter today emerged from stealth with a virtual conversation tool to enable more inclusive and meaningful “watercooler conversations” for hybrid and remote teams. With a founding team consisting of former BBC, Uber and Google executives, the startup has been in development at WeWork’s Growth Campus in London where it has been consulting with ten early access partners including University College London (UCL), WeWork, Kraft Heinz and World Remit. Natter has raised $1 million pre-seed funding to support its development.
Charlie Woodward, most recently a head of commercial partnerships at the BBC, and prior to that, a business development executive at Uber, has co-founded Natter to break down social and hierarchical barriers through inclusive conversations. Natter uses data analytics and intelligent-matching algorithms to digitally replicate the spontaneous watercooler conversation, matching employees to peers and leaders across an organisation regardless of physical location, background or remit. Timed ‘natters’ are then scheduled to take place on its proprietary video platform, collating large quantities of employee engagement data and insights within minutes through these conversations.
With the post-pandemic shift towards more flexible and productive working practices, employers have struggled to enable vital spontaneous social interactions between colleagues within remote and hybrid teams. Natter has been developed to fundamentally challenge the problem of hierarchical and social bias at work, ensuring that these culture defining interactions are reinstated more fairly and impactfully than ever before.
“As businesses rebuild post-pandemic, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to level the playing field at work and give everyone a voice,” explained Charlie Woodward, Co-Founder & CEO of Natter. “Distributed work has enabled huge improvements in flexibility, wellbeing and productivity. 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.”
Testing is ongoing at a number of organisations, with Natter expecting over 100,000 users to be onboarded in the coming months. Early users include the second largest university in the United Kingdom, UCL; multinational financial services company, WorldRemit; and one of the leading global flexible space providers, WeWork. In addition to facilitating spontaneous social interactions to enable knowledge sharing and a more inclusive workplace culture, early access partners have also used Natter to provide mentorship programmes, drive innovation and ideation, capture real-time employee feedback and insights, encourage cross-company mental well-being check-ins, and new starter onboarding.
Kate Faxen, Head of Employee Experience at early access partner, UCL, explains, “Natter helps our community of staff and students by recreating the spontaneity of those serendipitous corridor conversations that we all miss in our new, virtualized 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.”
Temitope Sadiku, Global Head of Digital Employee Experience, Kraft Heinz, explains, “The shift to remote and hybrid work unearths a fundamental challenge for organisations looking to keep their employees connected and engaged. In the past, luck and location were the key drivers of opportunity. Now, using innovative new technologies, we can code and enable opportunity fairly - connecting people more effectively than ever before and without social bias.”
Mathieu Proust, General Manager UK, Ireland and Emerging Markets, WeWork, said: “As companies navigate the seismic changes in the workplace sparked by the pandemic, flexibility and prioritising employee wellbeing is now more important than ever. With the last 18 months also presenting a huge challenge to growth companies, we launched Growth Campus to help boost the UK’s start-up ecosystem. We are delighted that Growth Campus has supported Natter with the space and resources to help them grow from a concept into a really effective tool, that we have trialled with our own teams, to create even more opportunities for people to connect and collaborate.”
With a team split between San Francisco and London, Natter has raised a total of $1 million in pre-seed funding, with participation from a range of angel investors with tech expertise from Silicon Valley and London, ex-Uber executives, and exited SaaS CTOs and CEOs. Backers include early investors in Flexport, Ripple and Zuora. Natter’s founding team consists of former Uber, Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Farfetch, Deloitte and BBC executives.
Natter is a virtual conversation tool which combines proprietary video, intelligent matching algorithms and data analytics technology to break down barriers through the power of conversation, building connections that matter across hybrid teams and communities. For more information, please visit www.natter.co