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This Twenty-Something’s Tech is Silicon Valley’s Greeter

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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Find a really boring problem and make an exciting solution. That’s Larry Gadea’s secret to success.

What’s a boring problem? How about the mundane process of signing in guests at an office? Big yawn.

But no one at Envoy is yawning. Gadea founded the visitor registration technology company in 2013. Today he employs 36 people and has more than 2,000 customers, including Box, GoPro, Pandora, Pinterest, Shopify, and Yelp, who pay monthly subscription fees. Even the fictional office in the HBO show Silicon Valley uses Envoy’s iPad-based program. Envoy’s slogan: “Make your front desk delightful.”

Gadea, who went from high school hacker to software engineering intern at Google while attending college, conceived the idea for Envoy while visiting friends at other Silicon Valley companies. “Whenever I met with someone, I’d go to their lobby and sign in,” he says. “Apple, Google, and Facebook had sophisticated sign-in systems, usually that they built themselves during hack weeks. But smaller companies didn’t have anything. I thought, ‘I bet all these other companies would want something like this.’”

The program he developed lets visitors register at an iPad kiosk or with a mobile app on their own phone. It automates processes such as getting signatures on waivers and non-disclosure agreements, printing name badges, notifying the host, and even following up with a “thanks for visiting us” email. 

“We turned a pen and paper system into a fun modern system,” says the 29-year-old CEO.

Businesses that use it benefit from better record keeping, enhanced security, and a collection of useful data. For instance, gyms use Envoy to get prospective members to sign waivers. Factories use it to document visitors and show them short safety videos. Schools register and photograph parents who take their children out of school. And defense contractors use Envoy to maintain ITAR compliance. Gadea says co-working spaces, wedding photographers, realtors, and meetup groups are also among Envoy’s users.

The platform’s simple setup has made adoption quick. “People will use it at one company and then another and say, 'We should be using this’,” Gadea says. “They download the app from the app store and are ready to go. It’s designed to be configured by any person.”  

A free version of Envoy has all the functionality to replace paper sign-in books. Upgrading to a version that lets users print badges or present non-disclosure agreements costs from $99 per month per office. Envoy with “all the bells and whistles” goes for $249 per month, and companies with offices around the world subscribe to an enterprise plan for $999 per month, Gadea says.

It’s been a year now since Envoy secured a $15 million Series A investment from Andreessen Horowitz, and Gadea says “it’s reasonable” to project “2x to 4x growth.” But for now, he’s more focused on building quality than quantity. “The whole point is to take these seemingly boring problems and make them exciting,” Gadea says. “The boring problems that no one is thinking about are where the opportunities are.”

Follow Adrienne Jane Burke at @adajane
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