August 12, 2022

Flight Plan #013 - The Hybrid Office: Our Investment in Officely

Announcing our investment in Officely. The hybrid work management solution your team will actually use.

Written by

Lachlan Duffy

At TEN13, we are convinced that the 'Hybrid Office' is the future of office work. That's why we have led Officely's US$2m Seed round as launched earlier this week in Techcrunch.

This shift has been seen across the world's largest companies like Facebook and Google who are allowing workers to work from the office three days per week. Square and Twitter have already announced that they're allowing people to work remotely forever. This has also been witnessed across the millions of SMEs (including us at TEN13) working a split week in between the office and home.  Large corporates like PwC and Deloitte are allowing their workforce to work remotely plus with the murmuring around the Great Resignation, this future of the office is not what it once was.

This is one of the most significant shifts in work and human behaviour over the last few decades, many employees have been forced to work from home (for white-collar roles) over the past 2 years. Over this period, a realisation has come about - people can still be effective in their work whilst working-from-home and even further employees have become accustomed to flexible work conditions.

That being said, in a post-COVID world fully remote is not the final outcome - people are inherently social beings and enjoy collaborating and being part of a team, thus a mixture of in-office and work-from-home (WFH) is the likely future end-state, which we and others are referring to as the Hybrid Office. Companies are still exploring the best ways to offer location flexibility whilst maintaining engagement and collaboration across their workforces, and they are going to need a solution to manage culture, systems, communication, and scale HR operations to adapt to a hybrid environment.

Officely is building the software solution to manage the transition to the Hybrid Office. Starting with a plugin through Slack, Officely enables workers to book office days, facilitate bookings of meetings rooms & car parks, lock-in slots when particular colleagues are in the office, and provide reporting for management on office usage and utility.

The genius of the product is in its simplicity - it is intuitive and easy to use enabling the coordination and scheduling of employee attendance in the office using existing internal software tools (such as Slack) as their wedge. A good way to think of it is that Officely is building the Calendly for office booking; a simple tool that is used frequently and owns digital real estate within your employee's weekly workflows to book in office space.

Officely's bottoms-up sales approach has allowed them to capitalise on the serious demand for their product. They've only been live since April this year and have been growing their revenue and users by 85%+ month over month for the last 5 months on average and recently surpassing 40k employees and 1.5k companies online.

We have known Officely founders, Max Shepherd-Cross and Rich Turnbull for several years since they moved to Queensland, Australia. The team originally built HotelFlex (YC17), a flexible booking tool for hotel accommodation. HotelFlex was impacted by COVID-19 and the team refocussed their skillset and systems towards a new product. After months of rebuilding, Max and Rich resurfaced as Officely to enable the hybrid office future of work. Now at the end of 2021, with people returning to work and life in many parts of the world, workers aren't going back to the office with the same frequency as before and HR personnel and employers are in need of software solutions to manage this new world order. Officely is the platform to manage the hybrid office future of work.

3 of the 4 current Officely team!

Vision:

Officely's vision is to be the central tool for management in the Hybrid Office future. Businesses will manage employee collaboration and scheduling using Officely meaning it will own 2-3 minutes of real estate in every employee's day. Officely will put the power back into the hands of each employee by providing visibility on when other colleagues are in the office and allow them to schedule to go in on the same days and book specific meeting rooms, as well as ensuring that culture and HR operations can scale across a hybrid office future.

Why now? Timing:

COVID-19 has changed things and remote/hybrid work will become a staple of the 21st century for most white-collar jobs. Workplaces will offer hybrid work environments not as a differentiator in hiring but as table stakes. We are not going back to bums on seats workplaces for white-collar jobs and the dawn of the Hybrid Office era is on the horizon. HR teams are planning for this and need software tools to help manage both engagement and organisation of their employees in this hybrid world. We think that the timing couldn't be better for Officely to go after this opportunity to help both employees and employers work together on what the future of work looks like.

Product / Platform & Solution:

In its current format, Officely is a simple to use booking tool that helps employees to schedule desk space, see co-workers time in the office, book meeting rooms and parking spots, and more.

Have a listen to CEO, Max, run through a deeper dive into their product, the user interface, and how it will solve the Hybrid Office challenge for HR personnel.

Business model and traction:

Officely is a product-led freemium model that charges paid users up to US$2.5/month to use their product past 12 employees. As a customer, it's incredibly easy to adopt and onboard. Officely has managed to sign up global companies such as Bolt, 99designs, Clever, Front, Lemonade, Citymapper, and more. Customers are loving the product and are happy to recommend it to their friends and Officely has an NPS of 80.

Many of these companies are rolling out Officely in multiple offices after successful trials, showing proof of their land-and-expand opportunity. This is all with very limited marketing & advertising and distribution through the Slack app store at this stage.

Calendly case study

Calendly is a bottoms-up SaaS tool just like Officely, allowing for easy scheduling of meetings. They've grown to 10 million users and recently raised US$350m at a US$3bn valuation.

Officely is adopting a similar horizontal model and opting for simplicity and integration within a user's daily workflow. If successful, their addressable market is exceptionally large and distribution via Slack and Microsoft Teams gives them huge potential exposure.

Officely is shooting to become the Calendly of office-booking.

Platform distribution:

Historically, building on top of large platforms such as Salesforce, Slack, & Microsoft, has been viewed as a risk for promising startups as they faced 'platform risk' and were beholden to these major companies. Yet as these companies have grown and their distribution and reach expanded - we've seen large tech companies increasingly being built on or distributing solely through these major platforms and generating venture outcomes. Examples include:

Here's another great article on building on top of platforms in the cloud era. Against this backdrop, we're comfortable that distribution through Slack and soon, Microsoft Teams, is a positive given the reach of these platforms. Each of these products has distribution to literally tens of millions of daily active users and we think that Officely is well-placed building atop their platform ecosystem.

Product Thesis: Who wins and why?

TEN13's product thesis on this category is that the winner has to be a lightweight solution - it can't feel like ANOTHER software tool to use to manage an office. Users are getting increasing SaaS fatigue with too many pieces of software to deal with, too many logins, and outside your typical workflow.

Officely has got this right and by building on top of Slack they have a collaboration-first approach to the hybrid workforce. Officely is intuitive and light and doesn't require much upskilling for new users which makes it a good solution for frictionless adoption. Officely also has very quick deployment by design; it only takes a few clicks to install it from the Slack App Store. This is a much more effective way to drive adoption than requiring users to download a file(s) from a website, create new logins, etc like most other B2B Software applications.

This difference in product psychology is important. Officely has taken a bottoms-up employee-first approach which sits against most other tools such as say culture tools like Robin and Condeco which are top-down (management asking for reporting and metrics). Ultimately, Officely will win out with a strategy that delivers more core value to end-users (being employees) over time than one which is top-down and riddled with user friction that will hamper long-term usage (and thus value creation and capture).

One of the other major selling points with Officely is their ability to own digital real estate meaning they are being viewed consistently in an employee's workflow (at minimum weekly) and this helps to drive both usage and retention. With embedded stickiness and usage by employees, we see this as the wedge to then layer on additional features and products that further drive retention and increase value capture from customers over time in a way that their competition will have difficulty in emulating.

Why we Invested:

  • Market shift and timing: The shift to the Hybrid Office is a massive shift in human behavior. The timing is ripe for tools to assist with these changes and capitalise on the change in the way people work. As the Hybrid Office era progresses, HR teams will be crying out for software solutions to manage worker movements and to ensure employee collaboration for both remote and in-person settings. Additionally, as remote work becomes more ingrained, corporate procurement teams can start to use the scheduling and booking data for office spaces to examine long-term needs for real estate and begin downsizing from large, city-based office space into something which more closely meets the needs of the Hybrid Office future.
  • Product led growth: Officely is using a bottoms-up sales strategy of product led growth (PLG) with thousands of employees using and recommending their product which is proving to be an amazing strategy for acquiring new users and expansion across companies. Officely is achieving this amazing traction with only 2 team members working on their product. We can't help but get excited when we start to imagine what they can do when they scale product development, build further distribution, and deploy marketing spend to grow their user base.
  • Tenacious Founding Team: Max & Rich have run their old company HotelFlex off limited capital and know just how to stretch a small budget. After COVID-19 last year put a stop to most travel tech companies, the team hey pivoted their business from a Hotel Booking tool (Booking hotel rooms for part of a day) with 20k hotel rooms to rebuild their solution to become a Hybrid Office employee scheduling software solution. Both founders have proved that they have the grit and resilience required to build a company together and have finally broken through with strong early evidence of product-market fit with their latest offering in Officely. Max and Rich have a relentless tenacity to keep going, to learn, upskill and constantly improve. We love to see this level of resilience and have backed them in this round to see what they can achieve with an expanded team and a fresh capital injection.

We're super excited to work with Max, Rich and the Officely team to build the future of the hybrid office. Officely are hiring aggressively in Product, Engineering and Growth Marketing.

Latest Articles

Launch of the Mavericks, an acquisition, and portfolio excitement

The Runway - September Edition

READ MORE

Flight Plan #17 - Our Investment in Kini

Pioneering access to financial products for Indonesia's 'unbanked', here are the details on our follow-on investment into Kini.

READ MORE

Defying the carnage, TEN13 grows, and new investments

Some reasons to celebrate as a tough Q2 drew to a close.

READ MORE