Bias alert: I am writing to you from my home office
Now in a more hybrid world, with corporations large and small trying to figure out how they will balance in-office employees and staff working from home, we were curious about how Firstbase is planning for the future.
The startup helps customers onboard remote staff, ensuring that new hires receive required hardware when they need it. If you changed jobs during the pandemic, you are likely aware that getting technology products out to new recruits is not always a simple process, a fact that compounds as the physical distance between corporate offices and individual workers grows.
The company has widened its feature set since we last spoke. Firstbase still helps customers’ new workers pick hardware, handling shipment and retrieval and management. It added financing to its offering mix. Now, for a regular fee, Firstbase will allow customers to pay for new employee hardware and other remote-friendly office peripherals like furniture on a ratable basis.
Growth in a hybrid era
The key question for Firstbase is how it fits into a world that is partially returning to in-office work. After posting startup-grade metrics in recent quarters — including 16x revenue growth since April 2021, from a 7x customer bump over a similar time frame — will the market prove less welcoming to Firstbase’s remote-employee servicing product than before?
Founder and CEO Chris Herd told TechCrunch that companies with hybrid workforces are using Firstbase to get hardware to in-office workers as well as those who work from their own digs. TechCrunch asked the company about its customer split between remote-first and hybrid-style companies, hoping to get a better handle on where the average company is heading. Herd said that Firstbase’s customer mix is a fairly even split, but that some putatively hybrid companies are still majority-remote.
The future of work remains in flux, I’d hazard.
But what Firstbase is building could fit neatly into the office world. The startup is either developing or planning warehouse capacity in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. That physical footprint allows the startup to manage its flow of devices to and from workers, limiting lag from need to delivery. During a global chip shortage, offloading critical supply chain work to a third party could prove attractive even for companies looking toward more IRL labor.
TechCrunch was curious whether Firstbase has plans of becoming a mobile device management (MDM) business, in addition to its current activities. MDMs like Jamf — now public — do more work on-device than around devices’ physical delivery and care. Herd said that two years ago, building MDM capabilities was a consideration. However, he said, in the interim, Firstbase learned that customers wanted it to plug into existing MDM products and HRIS (human resource information system) software systems, rather than replace those tools.
If Firstbase sells enough into SMBs that lack MDM tooling, perhaps in time it could build something simple for smaller customers.
Regardless, Herd said that after expecting his company to work with Series A and B-stage startups, it’s scaling up the maturity ladder to customers hiring hundreds and thousands of workers. That means six-figure deals instead of five-figure deals, he said. Private companies typically don’t share more than these generalized metrics, but in this case, they help explain the company’s recent growth rate.
Firstbase is a neat combination of software, hardware and financial tech. That makes it hard to guesstimate its gross margins or other economic details. Here’s to someone leaking the deck — or the company going public as quickly as possible so that we can get a peek at the data.