Business travel startup Pana cuts 18 employees

Pana helps coordinate business travel for other firms. (Photos courtesy BizDen file and Creative Commons)

A reliance on business travel has prompted Denver-based startup Pana to make cuts in the wake of the pandemic.

The company, which coordinates business travel for other firms, laid off 18 employees last week, according to CEO Devon Tivona. He declined to disclose how many employees remain.

Pana CEO Devon Tivona

“It was easy to see the impact this COVID-19 pandemic had on our business, but it was much more difficult to understand the length of this crisis,” Tivona said. “In the face of such uncertainty of the future, we could either plan for the best … or we could plan for the worst, which involved some painful cuts, but at least we would know we still have a business at the end of the day. When faced with that existential crisis, although painful, it became extremely obvious.”

BusinessDen reported last April that Pana had raised $10 million from investors. At the time, Tivona said the company had 20 employees and expected to grow to 60 by the end of 2019.

Tivona said the company’s remaining employees have taken pay cuts between 10% and 30%. He said he and fellow co-founder Sam Felsenthal each now make a reduced salary of $77,000.

Pana, founded in 2014, is an app that helps business travelers book flights, hotels, rides and other logistics.

The company also works with job interview candidates and recruiters for on-site interviews. Job recruiters send travel details to Pana, and the startup then works with the candidate by suggesting flights and booking hotels, and sending a travel itinerary. Travelers can upload food and expense receipts and get reimbursed quickly, and Pana is available 24/7 by chat, email or text message to help the traveler.

Tivona said those who were let go did not leave empty-handed. The company offered departing employees a one-month severance package, a two-month stipend to go toward sessions with a mental health professional and a full-time employee dedicated to helping them find new jobs.

“Though these changes were incredibly painful, and we understand the impact on the lives of people within Pana and those we needed to let go, we’ve given ourselves certainty,” Tivona said. “Certainty that no matter what the world throws at us for the next 24 months, we will be able to survive it. It’s also allowed us to be creative about how we weather the storm and come out thriving.”

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