Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
It’s funny how everyday experiences shape our ideas and create potential businesses.
For Larry Gadea, the inspiration for Envoy — the startup he founded, which is launching out of beta today — came from waiting around to meet friends during a period of free time after he left a job at Twitter.
While out literally waiting to meet friends, Gadea — who was Twitter employee number 49 — noticed that a lot of the tech startups that they worked at used basic processes to manage visitor registrations at their offices.
Gadea would typically fill out a log-in book for every visit, and complete various forms and (sometimes) NDAs on paper. Pens wouldn’t work, the day’s date might be forgotten, he’d need to do his research before arriving, and in general “it all just felt really archaic,” he told TNW in an interview.
These experiences were the polar opposite of Google, where Gadea began his career. The search giant, like other tech firms, has a computerized system for onboarding visitors in a more slick and efficient manner. When Gadea’s curiosity led to conversations with friends, he discovered that Google had actually built its digital system itself.
That, in turn, led him to question why other companies were stuck in the analog era — thus Envoy was born to make the visitor experience a digital one for any company.
Envoy actually began as a basic $2 iOS app, but once it began to get traction — Gadea recalled a 200-person company using it to run their reception office — he realized he was on to something, developed more features, made the app free and devised a monthly pricing plan.
Today, Envoy has more than 250 customers, including Yelp, Airbnb, Pixar, Box, Coinbase and other respected Silicon Valley names. Its clientele actually stretches round the globe, and includes non-tech companies, and even an oil rig.
The service is split into two monthly plans: a basic $99 version, and a premium $249 service. The latter provides support for multiple offices, enables company admins to send pre-registration emails to visitors in advanced of their arrival, and includes other value-adds.
The concept is simple, as this video outlines:
The Envoy team is currently five strong, and the startup has raised an angel round of “more than $1 million,” Gadea said.
The use case is elementary and necessary for many, and its business model actually makes money — which combined is a refreshing change from some other companies that emerge from the US tackling problems that are harder to define.
Envoy is also notable for the bevvy of high-profile people who invested in the company’s funding round. Backers include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, and Viki founder Razmig Hovaghimian.
So what’s next for Envoy?
Gadea is aiming to ramp up user acquisition and increase the team. The startup is considering linking user profiles up on the services — keeping information private as needed — and possibly adding features that could hook up to social networks to tell you if, for example, you are visiting a company that employs people who you follow on Twitter.
To be honest, the product doesn’t sound like it needs a lot of work, beyond being translated into new languages for potential customers overseas. That’s another thing that Gadea said will likely come soon, perhaps starting with European languages.
For now, the Envoy founder and CEO is focused on “building the best product we can,” and helping bring the analog processes that first caught his attention into the digital era.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.