Do we need so many virtual HQ platforms?

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Teamflow, founded by ex-Uber manager Flo Crivello, has raised an $11 million Series A just three months after raising a $3.9 million seed for its virtual HQ platform. The latest round in the startup was led by Battery Ventures, with Menlo Ventures leading its previous financing event.

Teamflow’s raise comes just days after competitor Gather announced a $26 million Series A round led by Sequoia Capital. Another company, Branch, has raised a $1.5 million seed round from investors such as Homebrew and Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia and is currently raising its Series A.

All these startups want to bring into the mainstream a game-like interface for people to toggle through during their work day. The reality is, all three companies (and dozens of others) likely can’t win. The winning difference lies in strategy, Teamflow’s Crivello tells me.

“I think in the early days, the biggest differentiator is going to be UX and our aesthetic,” he said. “A lot of the other players have a very gamified approach, and we’re big fans of that, but we think that people don’t want to have their [work] meetings in a Pokémon game.”

A tour through Teamflow’s office shows that the company is more focused on productivity than gamification. Integrations include a Slack-like chat feature as well as file and image sharing. It is working on an in-platform app store so users can download the integrations that work best with their team, Crivello said. There are games too.

Teamflow’s virtual HQ platform.

This focus has helped Teamflow gain traction with employers instead of event organizers, a more stable source of revenue per the founder. The company currently hosts thousands of teams within startups on its platform, wracking in “hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.” Gather, a competitor, recently told TechCrunch that it gets the majority of its revenue from one-off events. Gather’s monthly revenue is currently $400,000, according to founder Philip Wang.

Gather, alternatively, looks and feels very different from Teamflow in that it is closer to the feel of Sims.

Gather’s virtual HQ platform.

Branch’s Dayton Mills said that it has been able to stay competitive through becoming “much more gamified.” It has added levels, in-game currencies and XP to encourage employees to customize their office space.

“Productivity isn’t broken, but culture, fun and social interaction is,” Mills told TechCrunch. “So when it comes to work and play we’re aiming to fix the play part, not the work. Work comes as a side effect.” Branch has not made revenue yet.

How to do remote work right, from the teams that know it best

The next ambition for Teamflow is expanding its customer base beyond the hip experimental team at startups. Crivello noted that Zoom brings in about 40% of its revenue through enterprise sales, and Teamflow is resultedly “doubling down on enterprise readiness.”

The company will work on being compliant and upholding privacy standards so it can onboard healthcare and biotech companies, what it views as “buttoned up verticals” that might not want the other gamified approaches.

Crivello is clear about his vision for the startup: He wants to make it harder to move out of a virtual office than a physical office. If Teamflow can become an operating system of sorts long-term, adding on applications and bringing in a high quality of standards, it might be able to bring on a broader set of clients.

Virtual HQs race to win over a remote-work-fatigued market


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