Tandem, a startup building corporate communications tools, has released a new product called Spaces, hoping to blend remote and in-office work so that all staff feels properly connected to their co-workers. The release of Spaces comes as many companies are digesting a return to offices and the question of how to manage a team that is working from multiple locations.
Back in 2019, Tandem was the hottest company coming out of Y Combinator. At the time, TechCrunch noted that the company was “developing communication software for remote teams after pivoting from crypto” work. It landed $7.5 million before the pandemic hit.
Talk about right place and right time, yeah? Rajiv Ayyangar, Tandem’s CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch recently that things at his startup went vertical with the onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing mass move to working from home. The CEO said that his company grew by around 30x in a few weeks’ time.
I went for a tour of Tandem’s current software to get a feel for its new service. Generally speaking, Tandem is an app that allows teams to communicate, track their meetings and collect in chat rooms.
You’ve used related software. What I will say is that Tandem’s layout is pretty slick, meaning that it has a user experience that was easy to learn. It has some nice touches as well, like icons near user names so that you can see what software your co-workers are using at any given time. If you see a developer using an IDE, maybe you wait to ping them, right?
But where Tandem is looking to break out from the pack of software products that allow for computer-to-computer communications is its Spaces product. In short, the service works with video-ready hardware inside of office spaces like conference rooms and general-use areas, allowing remote staff to connect to different parts of the office, listen in or actively participate.
In a demo, I was taken around the Tandem office in real time, dropping in on meetings and generally being a nuisance for a little while. We showed up on TVs in conference rooms and what I think was some sort of lounge space.
At this juncture, I need to establish my remote-work bona fides. I have been an on-again, off-again remote worker since my early college years. My first journalism job was for a company on a different continent. I never made it to the office in years of working there. At TechCrunch, I’ve been both remote and IRL, and my last gig was more in-person than not. So when it comes to Zooming into meetings, managing over the phone and generally using every piece of software out there over time, I am aware of the advantages and issues that remote work engenders.
With that in mind, I like what Tandem has built. It works with a lot of hardware options, including cheap laptops, so even more frugal teams will be able to access the service. You don’t have to buy a huge rig to bridge the gap between staff in the office and those afar. Naturally, having a large screen with a good camera and mic will make Spaces better, but you can also throw a cheap laptop into the mix if you are on a budget.
When you select a particular “space” in an office inside the app, you can connect quietly or with video and audio, depending on your needs. Does that feel creepy in practice, showing up on in-office screens? Not really, because remote staffers are tapping into the office — not the houses of their co-workers.
The service launched on April 4. Naturally, we asked the company how its release is going. Per Ayyangar, it’s “too early to share numbers,” but the CEO did email over some positive customer comments that he said were disclosed “verbatim.” Both pieces of feedback highlighted the importance of community connection, which was likely music to Tandem’s ears.
Tandem is a SaaS startup, meaning that its customers subscribe to its service on a recurring basis. Regular Tandem costs $8 per month per user, more for enterprise features. Spaces, in contrast, costs $50 per company per month, or more, again, for enterprise-grade accoutrements.
Ayyangar said that around 800 companies use Tandem today, but we couldn’t drill more deeply to get a customer count. (The startup features a free tier, as many self-service products do in the modern software world.)
Spaces could help Tandem drive more revenue from its existing customers, or perhaps attract new customers. Either way, it’s well timed.
What we’re curious about next is how much the new product helps Tandem grow; it hasn’t raised more capital since that late 2019 round, per Crunchbase data, which means that it’s probably getting ready to do so. If Spaces performs well, perhaps we’ll hear from the company again sooner rather than later.