Customer-centric workplace software: Meet Mike Chan, VP of Engineering

You already know about some of Mike Chan’s biggest accomplishments; he built a phone that later got acquired by Razer, a massive gaming-peripherals company. As our new VP of Engineering, Chan brings a strong background in mobile experience and workplace software innovation to lead our engineering efforts.

Envoy’s CEO and founder, Larry Gadea, is excited about Mike’s vision and “ ‘all in’ attitude on the IoT [Internet of Things]. We know he’ll be an incredible fit here.”

From filing over 100 patents to being a champion for the visitor management experience, get a first-hand glimpse into what it takes to build a truly agile engineering team and what’s next when it comes to the future of workplace technology.

Welcome to Envoy! As part of the Android 1.0 team and co-founder of Nextbit, you’ve disrupted the mobile industry more than once. Working to make the mobile software experience second to none has been a keystone in your career. How do you envision mapping that mindset to the workplace software experience?

MC: Always know what customer pain points we are solving with our software. How are we making people’s lives better? Whether it’s for use on mobile devices or within the workplace, this should be the central question that informs everything we do.

You have over 120 patents filed in your name––do you ever sleep?

MC: I have to keep my mind well-rested to keep those ideas flowing. Most nights I get 6-7 hours of sleep and I make up the rest with plenty of coffee!

What does the future of workplace experience look like when it comes to mobile functionality?

MC: There are 7.5 billion people on this planet and 4 billion of them have a smartphone. Smartphones are replacing PC functionality, not just in the home but at school as well. Year over year, students feel more comfortable doing homework and writing essays on their phones than PCs.

As the next generation enters the workforce, PCs will be replaced by mobile as their preferred device for productivity.

What comes to mind first when imagining how to challenge the status quo of workplace software?

MC: Workplace software should be more than just a tool to enhance productivity and efficiency. It should also provide moments of delight for employees, as if it were magic.

How has the SaaS B2B landscape changed since you first started in the software world, and what are some emerging trends you are excited about or want to experiment with?

MC: B2B used to be about delivering a checklist to IT in order to make the sale, then moving on to the next potential checklist and sale. If you take a look at companies like Slack and Zoom, there’s a real focus on providing a great user experience like your typical consumer internet company.

The workplace software iteration cycle is a lot faster now thanks to agile methodology and CI/CD being widely adopted across engineering teams. This allows teams to deliver new releases faster without a slow and expensive waterfall test cycle. Happy customers + happy engineers = win-win.

“I’m most excited to experiment with bringing ML and AI into the workplace. If you imagine the workplace of the future, it should learn and adapt to employee patterns. I don’t think we’ve really seen anyone take full advantage of this opportunity yet.”

–– Mike Chan, VP of Engineering, Envoy

You have described an ethos around the consumer experience that champions workplace software working so well that you don’t even think about it. How will you apply this same thinking to visitor management and the office OS?

MC: Small details matter. Focus on making the visitor experience so seamless it feels like magic. The same can be said about the rest of the workplace; there’s a huge opportunity to provide a seamless experience for visitors and employees alike.

What’s the most important lesson you have incorporated into your leadership strategy throughout your career thus far? How do you bring out the best in your team’s talent?

MC: Constantly remind people about the vision and clearly articulate the path to get there. Over communicate this.

Like a professional sports team, to get the best out of your team requires constant coaching and pushing the team just beyond their comfort zone––but not so hard they are set up for failure.

What are your top three reasons for joining Envoy?

MC:   1. The focus on the user experience.

2. The Office OS. Building a software platform for the future of the workplace is technically ambitious.

3. Great company culture.

What is something you are most looking forward to getting up and running in your first 30 days at Envoy?

MC: Getting an espresso machine and grinder in the office to teach people how to make a cappuccino.