We never set out to build a startup. Working full time in the workplace technology sector, with young kids at home and super impressive working partners, it was the last thing on our minds.
During the pandemic the world changed rapidly, and so did our expectations for when, where and how we want to work. As individuals, don’t we all desire more flexibility, work-life balance, and a great experience, no matter where we are working?
Whether we like it or not, we find ourselves in the midst of a workplace revolution, with ongoing rapid transformation happening all around us. Even with people changing the way they work, how they work, or leaving ‘work’ all together, most of us still need to work somewhere. Even if we want that ‘somewhere’ to look and feel very different to a traditional office.
We are seeing a progressive trend to the office being the new off-site, acting as the cultural hub for the organization. Extra care and incentives are needed to bring people together in a physical workspace in order to build that culture - through team on-sites, training sessions, social gatherings and in-person experiences. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the organizations who understand this need for a new kind of workplace experience, and act on it fast, are going to thrive alongside the most in-demand talent.
Speaking to our clients, we recognized this rapidly changing world of work left many leaders struggling to plan, manage, measure and navigate a path to make both employees and organizations successful. The two constants we heard from our clients were ‘It’s hard to deliver a good employee experience in a hybrid world’ and ‘We know the future office will be radically different, but we don’t have the tools to manage our workplaces into the future’.
This gap in meeting employees’ expectations, coupled with team leaders’ need to facilitate collaboration and cater to their people's preferences, means organizations are searching for a way to manage their hybrid work environment while still maintaining company culture and productivity. One of the CEOs we spoke with during our research said it best - ‘Organizations must provide employees with flexibility around where and when they work but in return, employees need to be transparent for the benefit of their team and maintaining that trust and morale’
It is clearly a business critical requirement and yet we found no suitable product out there we could put forward to clients to solve the problem.
Sure, you have tools narrowly focused on desk booking, or specific workplace features and functionality, but none of them solved these broader hybrid work challenges. This gave us a meaningful opportunity to look beyond existing property technology products and build a single platform that could equally meet the needs of individuals, teams and the organization.
So, we put our heads together to come up with a solution to enable the future of work. A product to remove the friction associated with hybrid work, giving organizations a platform to reinvigorate culture, collaboration and deliver amazing employee and workplace experiences.
That product is Calven. An interactive workplace platform with experience at its heart, providing a means to balance individual preferences, team objectives and organizational policies and guidelines, all operating together. It’s this concept (venn diagram) combined with the notion of a calendar which forms our name, and the design for our logo.
Alongside our day jobs and family priorities, we’ve put everything into bringing Calven to life over the past 12 months, but the origins really go back 10 years to when we were first introduced by our mutual mentor and close friend, the late Fred Bargetzi. Fred was the visionary CTO of Crestron, a leader at the forefront of workplace tech as the industry was booming. The three of us just clicked.
We’d meet up a couple of times a year and collaborate from other sides of the globe (Sydney and NYC), debating technology, designing products and trying to figure out where the workplace was headed. Just as we were forming Calven, Fred sadly passed away. While he’s no longer with us in person, his support and guidance gave us the confidence to get started and we know he’s watching and willing us on from above.
Like most founders and their startups, Calven is personal to us. We believe Calven can help democratize the future of work for everyone and we’re excited to see how it shapes better work experiences.
Where we are today
The two of us have built this platform from opposite ends of the world (Dan in NYC and JP in Sydney) and after 12 months of development, we couldn’t be happier to launch Calven.
Being born remote and having a clear purpose of why we needed to develop, Calven gave us the opportunity to attract world-class talent in workplace strategy and technology, software engineering, and operations. We experience the challenges first-hand of building culture and connection with remote teams, which is one of the problems we’re trying to solve with Calven. We drink our own champagne, so to speak, and we’re all the better for it. A huge shout out to our incredible team (dispersed across Australia, USA and Europe). We know it’s been a wild ride! Thank you for all your hard work and continued commitment - we couldn’t do this without you.
We feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing calibre of investors behind us, and customers who’ve partnered with us to this point in our journey. Collectively, their support and insights have ensured we’re bringing to market a platform that will remove much of the friction and challenges managing in a hybrid environment. It’s a vote of confidence in our ability as a team, as well as the immense potential of software solutions, to enable the future of work.
Securing an AU $6.8m seed round led by AirTree and supported by several other strategic investors is enabling us to continue our investment in the Calven platform, implement marketing campaigns in our two launch markets of Australia and the USA, and expand our 25-person team. So, if you’re keen to join us - we’re hiring!
In the development phase, we’ve worked closely with our design partners including (but not limited to) Canva, Afterpay, Quantium and Gilbert + Tobin to develop the platform, and refine how Calven can support leading organizations. Their collective insights and ongoing feedback has been invaluable in the features we have built into the first release of Calven.
Given the staggering workplace disruption experienced over the last two years, how can anyone predict the future of work? There’s no one size fits all approach; the future of work is different for every organization, in fact the teams and people within each organization are different. So, we have designed Calven so that our features and capabilities can continue to evolve as our customers and users' needs evolve.
We're not designing software to set and forget! More changes are bound to come, and Calven gives employees, employers and team leaders the levers to shift and adapt with those changes over time.
We’re so excited to deliver on our mission and have plenty of plans up our sleeves, but for now our focus is on successfully rolling out Calven to our launch customers, continuing to enhance the capabilities of the platform, and growing our talented team.
Together, let’s make the future of work work for everyone!
JP and Dan