Pickr, the digital staffing platform for utility service providers and workers, has raised £1m in a funding round from venture capital firm Episode 1, following investment by Angels including Nick Kingsbury last year.

The new capital will be used to secure key senior hires and to expand Pickr’s existing talent cloud of skilled workers.

Founded in 2017, the Norwich-based company helps service providers in the £28bn energy and utilities sectors reduce the cost and time of building and managing a flexible workforce.

Using machine learning and intelligent automation, Pickr said customers can fill their temporary, on-demand, and short-term hiring requirements within hours, reducing recruitment agency fees.

The company, a 2019 National Technology Awards finalist, already works with some of the UK’s leading utility service providers, including Cellex, Defusion Utility Services, HAL Utilities, and KN Network Services.

In the past year, over 4,000 shifts were managed via the platform with over £350,000 in wages paid out.

“Our customers win and lose contracts based on the speed at which they can scale their workforce. They need the right people with the right skills in the right place, often at short notice. If they can’t find them quickly, it can cost them dearly,” said Kane Halsey, CEO of Pickr.

“We created Pickr specifically to solve this problem. We’ve already built a community of the workers our customers need – from groundworkers and cablers to fibre splicers and works supervisors – which means we can fulfil pretty much any requirement quickly and at low cost.

“Our ultimate goal is to be the connector that everyone in the sector turns to, providing the best opportunities for the unsung heroes who work in all conditions to keep our economy moving and removing the pain and cost of resourcing for businesses in the supply chain.”

Adrian Lloyd, the Episode 1 director, explained why he had backed the startup: “The Pickr team knows its niche and has proven its business model.

“The company is solving a real problem much more cost-effectively than traditional recruitment agencies and has all the ingredients needed to disrupt the marketplace.

“Utilities is a big enough market in itself to get us excited, but Pickr has potential well beyond into all aspect of the industrial workforce.”