Envoy’s visitor check-in software gobbled up the Bay Area tech market years ago, its iPads and drop-down menu a staple of front desks from Asana to Uber. But WD-40 is no tech high flyer – it makes an oil spray. “That’s when I thought, this is a real revolution,” Gadea says.
It’s also why five years after its launch, Envoy is raising a new $43 million funding round with a bigger goal in sight: the smart office. Or is it a connected office? Workplace nervous system? Office IoT? Gadea floats “Office OS.” But he doesn’t care what term wins out. “We’ve got thousands of customers standing by to use one of these,” he says.
Led by Menlo Ventures, with Initialized Capital and Andreessen Horowitz participating, the new Series B funding round likely values Envoy at more than $200 million. Envoy had previously raised $15 million in 2015. Since then, Envoy’s user base has grown from 1,000 companies to more than 10,000, checking in more than 100,000 people per day across 17 languages. Most important to Gadea: Four out of five users are outside the Bay Area and half outside the U.S., with customers like American Express and AstraZeneca as well as dentist offices and schools.
Most people who have interacted with Envoy to date know it for its Visitor product, which follows the same basic formula wherever it’s used. One of the first companies to adopt the tool was Yelp, when the business reviews site moved to a new headquarters in the fall of 2013. When someone visited Yelp, staff would have to print out the day’s visitors from a spreadsheet, then attach them to a clipboard for the receptionist to check one by one. When Yelp switched to Envoy, the clipboards went away. Now employees can preregister guests and get arrival updates in Slack.
Envoy’s second product, for package deliveries, takes a similar methodology but applies it to how businesses accept parcels and then distribute them to the right employee. Staff at Pandora can find out where a package is from and ask it to be brought to their desk from their computers, cutting down on the need for employees to walk up and down the halls looking for the right person. Pandora uses Deliveries in its Oakland headquarters, as well as in its Santa Monica and Chicago offices. “It can run five different mail rooms, five different front desks from one place,” says Gary Backus, Pandora’s manager of safety and security. “It helps me figure out who is in the office. And the guys in the mail room love Envoy.”
At Envoy, Gadea sounds almost giddy as he talks about the other areas of an office he wants Envoy to run. The startup has a list of at least 70 other things it could do around a workplace, he says; at 100 (and it’s unclear if he’s at all joking), the CEO says he’ll need to open up Envoy for other startups to build upon. Envoy is already working to beef up what it knows about visitors when they show up, allowing them to preload a photo, hook up their LinkedIn or social media, or make requests, for example, for audiovisual equipment or a special flavor of LaCroix sparkling water. But eventually Gadea wants Envoy to manage your conference rooms, key-card-type door access and even the right temperature for the office air-conditioning. Some tools could work behind the scenes, such as a multi-tenant product that would allow a building to use Envoy across a range of companies working within.
“Larry worked at Twitter for three years, and he has this Jack Dorsey-esque perfectionism about him, an attention to detail,” says Matt Murphy, who led the new funding round for Menlo. “And we were, like, Larry, this is great, you’ve got this interesting wedge in, but what’s next?”
Investors are betting that while Apple, Facebook and Google have built their own software to manage their large employee bases, most companies will gladly hand off such tasks to a specialist, giving them one (or a few) less things to worry about – from high-growth companies like Slack and Spotify to big companies like Accenture and Nike. The visitor tool, meanwhile, acts like Envoy’s viral ambassador, spreading the company around the world as visitors encounter Envoy on trips and then bring it back to their own buildings.
Envoy’s biggest challenge could be simply the range of options it faces in its product road map. With each one, Envoy will compete with one, if not several other companies approaching office management with that feature as its starting point. Customers who love Envoy’s experience will likely be willing to give it a try, but it will have to work better – and stay better – than rivals in an increasingly complex set of features. “It’s not like we would be switching out Salesforce,” says Yelp vice president of corporate infrastructure Todd Miner, who says he’d be willing to try new Envoy tools such as one for conference room booking. “These tools aren’t that deeply embedded. Which is good and bad for Envoy.”
Gadea, who blogged about the funding, seems to embrace the looming competition. He says Envoy will unveil its next product in the first half of next year, if not sooner. “For my employees reading this, please say Larry would be very excited if we can get something out at the end of this year,” he quips. “I am pretty pumped about this. Things don’t have to be the way they are.”