Every once in a while I interact with a new product and have an epiphany: “Ah! This is it. This is the future and how the world will work.”
Over the summer I caught up with one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Howard Lerman, and he said he had something to show me. It was a new product he and a bunch of colleagues from the various companies he had previously founded were building. He gave me a high-level overview of what they were doing, but showing always beats telling. And when Howard demoed Ro.am, I knew that I was witnessing what the future of work looked like for companies that operate out of an office, remotely, or a combination of the two. There has already been a lot of good coverage of Roam and I encourage you the check it out: Howard’s remarks, CNBC, TechCrunch, Squawk Box, and IVP.
Many companies are trying to find ways for people to work better together remotely by creating some version of a browser-based HQ. We’ve seen everything from Meta’s futuristic avatar-based version of the workplace metaverse to various permutations of gamified work experiences. Most of them come across cartoonish and impractical. But Roam actually feels like a HQ, but in the cloud. It’s a viable virtual office.
I fell in love with it for several personal reasons. First and foremost, it mimics a physical office. I can see who is present, who they’re meeting with, “knock” on their “doors,” and have spontaneous conversations. It’s the only thing I’ve seen that comes close to the in person experience. It’s intentionally skeuomorphic, or as Howard describes, a “breakthrough office graphical interface,” the same way Apple designed for the iPhone when they were acclimating the world to transitioning from desktop to mobile.
I need to be around people in order to feel energized, productive, and happy. If I ever were to build another company, I’d want to work from home 1-2 days per week and be in an office surrounded by people 3-4 days per week. Roam is the tool that creates a seamless experience transitioning through these modalities, ensuring nobody loses out on the magic of collaboration. It also eliminates roughly 50% of Zoom meeting time by making quick hallway conversations practical – the average meeting time in Roam is ~8 minutes!
The shift to distributed teams, remote work, and an asynchronous cadence has been confusing and hard for most founders and leaders. There’s always a creeping suspicion in the back of your mind that people are phoning it in and that you’re losing the magical moments that make building things so special and rewarding. And for those who value a performance based culture, the transition to remote or hybrid is a steep learning curve with few best practices. Roam is a happy equilibrium. It’s the solution we’ve been waiting for that needs to exist. It’s not that Roam enables managers to surveil, it’s that it creates a work setting that enables people to flourish regardless of where they are. Some people and roles will always be able to operate asynchronously and that’s great. But that’s the exception, not the rule. And Roam empowers different configurations to embrace best practices and develop new ones for a rapidly changing work world.
I believe that Roam will be the platform that enables more magic moments between colleagues and helps us to do even better work together. I’m lucky to be an investor backing Howard and the incredible Roam team. Sign your company up here.