Meet Café, a new French startup founded by two brothers who want to help companies switch to hybrid remote-and-office workplace models. The cafe is not a traditional desk-booking tool. Instead, the company helps you see when people on your team are coming to the office so that you can plan when you should go to the office.
The cafe focuses on the people first instead of focusing on the workspace. “We decided we wouldn’t let you book a desk directly,” co-founder and CTO Arthur Lorote de Bains told me.
When you open the app, you get a simple calendar view. For each day, you can see that the members of your team are divided into groups – people coming to the office, people working from home, etc.
In a few taps, you can tell your other colleagues what you plan to do. In this way, it becomes very easy to schedule meetings, in-person conversations and generally hang out with your colleagues. If you are working on the same project then it also becomes easier to find a normal day with a specific colleague.
“We interviewed 150 companies and we realized that companies faced the same problem after interviewing the first five companies. They all use spreadsheets,” co-founder and CEO Tom Nguyen told me.
Using a tool like Cafe also gives you information about your office. For example, you can see the average number of people in your office based on the day of the week or the day of the month. Administrators can configure weekly reminders to ensure that everyone fills in information.
In addition to its mobile app and web app, Cafe integrates with your existing tools. For example, you can associate your cafe account with Slack so that your position on Slack reflects your position in the cafe. Teammates can hover over your name to know if you are in the office or you are at home.
The company is also working on integration with human resources information systems, such as Payfit, so that your vacation is automatically synchronized with the café.
As soon as companies start making plans to return to the office, the cafe arrives on the market at the right time. Companies can create custom situations to suit their specific needs. For example, a cafe customer has created a situation so that they know who has the key to the office to ensure that the office remains open.
The company raised a $ 1 million seed round from 122 West, Kima Ventures, Jonathan Vidavsky, Guillaume Lestrade, Jacques-Edouard Sabatier and various business angels that worked for WeWork, Dropbox, Github, Snapchat, Intercom, Stripe, Allen and Pfitt Are or work.
Like Typeform, Doodle or Slido, the café has chosen a freemium strategy. Teams can sign up for free and start using the product with their immediate peers. You do not need to enter card information to sign up.
If you want to roll it out across the entire organization with more users, then you need to start paying. The startup believes that employees will become product advocates for the entire organization. And it seems that the right strategy for a product is to make employees happy at work.