Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 3 June 2024
Categories B2B, Technology

Podcast – Interview with Larry Gadea, Founder and CEO of Envoy

Part of our special series of episodes of the c-suite podcast that was recorded in partnership with the European PR Agency Tyto and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Larry Gadea, Founder and CEO of Envoy.

In todays fast-paced and dynamic business environment, creating a positive workplace culture is becoming increasingly important.

This is where Envoy comes in.

Founded in 2013, the San Francisco based company has created a workplace platform that aims to improve employee experiences while boosting efficiency. Recently, Envoy reached a significant milestone, achieving unicorn status in January 2022 with a valuation of $1.4 billion.

Russell Goldsmith and co-host, Tyto’s Senior Partner, Holly Justice spoke to Larry Gadea, Founder and CEO of the workplace platform Envoy, to learn more about the company’s vision and approach to workplace innovation. Diving into the details of Envoy’s workplace platform, the features that set it apart and how it is helping companies improve their workplaces in measurable ways.

Larry has always been an engineer at heart. He honed his skills in reverse engineering and caught the attention of Google with his ability to make its ‘Google Desktop Search’ feature search his ‘Wordperfect’ files.

However, visa issues prevented him from leaving Canada at the age of 17. Eventually, he made it to Google, where he worked for four years before joining Twitter as one of its first 40 employees.

While at Google, he noticed the company’s efficient system for managing meeting rooms and space which inspired him to develop a visitor management product for Twitter. This product became very successful and is now used by 6,000-7,000 customers and nearly 20,000 workplaces worldwide.

Envoy is focused on helping businesses operate their workspaces in a more efficient and thoughtful way. With a shift to remote work due to Covid, companies are facing new challenges in managing their physical workspaces, such as determining how many parking spots and meeting rooms they need.

Envoy is responding by developing products that use analytics to provide businesses with the data they need to operate more efficiently. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Envoy remained committed to creating innovative products to improve the workspace experience for the people still going into warehouses and factories.

The executive team worked to understand the needs of these workers and build products to address their challenges. Moving forward, Envoy will continue to develop products that help businesses navigate the changing landscape of the modern workplace.

Larry emphasises the importance of clear communication between companies and their employees about returning to the workplace. Instead of encouraging people to come in without directly telling them to do so, Larry thinks companies should be clear about their policies and what they expect from their employees.

He envisions a future where companies focus on building an effective and efficient employee experience, downsizing their workforce or office space and utilising alternative solutions like sharing unused office space. Larry suggests a marketplace for listing free office space could be interesting and sees this as an opportunity for Envoy.

As an inspiring leader, Larry emphasises the importance of maintaining relationships with key contacts and influencers throughout his career, which has helped him secure funding and grow Envoy.

Larry values working with experienced and resilient employees and believes that resilience is a crucial skill for entrepreneurs to have. He advises focusing on building innovative products and not falling into autopilot mode, especially in a small company.

Larry also shares his personal story of resilience, having been born in Romania and smuggled out of the country due to his parents’ illegal jobs. He acknowledges his early interest in engineering and computers for helping him develop resilience.

Larry understand the need to build quickly in the software industry, as anyone can copy and clone software. He sees potential for solving problems in every office such as developing software to control office features like blinds, speakers and ventilation. Larry also shares an office hack from Envoy, where they used a scale to notify managers when the coffee machine needed to be refilled.

It’s crucial for Envoy to remember that they are all working together to navigate economic uncertainty and a changing environment. To maintain transparency and keep employees informed about current events, Larry personally addresses the company every week.

He believes that speaking openly, even if it means occasionally saying “dumb things”, is essential for building trust and rapport with stakeholders. However, he also acknowledges the potential downside of transparency and understands why some may choose to limit communication.

Larry describes the culture at Envoy as creating a great experience for employees, customers and their products by intentionally building products differently to stay ahead of trends. They aim to understand the key issues and pain points employees face in other workplaces.

The company values drive how they operate and are communicated through repetition. Envoy values a work culture that prefers office work as they like to work collaboratively and limit conflicts.

Being open and honest about mistakes is what Larry believes humanises himself and builds trust with employees. He values communication and encourages his team to speak their minds, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration.

He understands the importance of genuine and honest communication with external partners and investors. Believing in building confidence by regularly analysing company analytics and openly acknowledging areas for improvement. Larry also emphasises the importance of being transparent about company faults, rather than only highlighting successes.

Larry’s communication style can be described as direct and to the point, which can be a challenge for some. He believes that it’s important to communicate bad news so people can address it and move forward. However, he’s realised not everyone has the necessary context to understand decisions.

While slack channels are open for everyone to join, employees are busy with their own deadlines. He recognises that not everyone needs to be aware of the context for every task and adjusts his communication style accordingly.

In conclusion, Larry has shared valuable insights into the importance of communication in building a successful company culture and relationships with stakeholders. His experiences have taught him that being transparent and genuine in both internal and external communications is crucial for building trust and rapport.

He also stresses the need for repetition in communication to ensure that important messages are received and understood to navigate the challenges of effective communication in todays fast-faced business environment.

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