Getting a New Receptionist with TextUs.Biz

While I have nothing against receptionists, I’ve always felt like it was a thankless job that should be able to easily be replaced by the machines. Many of the people I know who are receptionists spend their time doing lots of other things and I’ve always felt like it would dramatically improve their life if they could focus on all the other things, rather than split their attention between those and being a receptionist.

We’ve never had a dedicated receptionist at Foundry Group but our office was oriented so the people “in the line of fire” were constantly interrupted whenever someone came in the office. So, we asked a local startup, TextUs.Biz to solve this problem for us.  They came up with an iPad app called “Receptionist” which freed up anyone from having to pay specific attention to the front door. As a result, we redesigned the entrance to our office with “Receptionist” front and center, a new lobby, and a Mezzanine room.

The team at TextUs.Biz hasn’t slowed down. They have taken the idea to market and recently launched TextUs.Biz Receptionist for the public (it’s available in iTunes now.) The functionality and feature set of the app are intuitive. Visitors can ping who they are here to see and can directly interact with the person or their assistant. It also has some fun tricks like taking a picture of the visitor and storing it automatically in the visitor log for future reference.

We like the gang at TextUs.Biz – they did great work for us. The machines have taken over the world anyway, so why not let them help check people in? Check it out the app here and their AngelList profile here.

  • http://www.eliainsider.com Elia Freedman

    That’s brilliant, Brad. We were never quite big enough for a receptionist at our peak but I always hated that we didn’t have some way for the employees to know there was someone up front. Price is really cheap, too: a few hours of a receptionist. Hope to be big enough again someday to need it!

  • http://www.semilshah.com/ Semil Shah

    There are a few designers who’ve left Twitter who’ve started a similar app (called Envoy), currently in Beta.

  • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

    That’s a great app idea, and it could apply to other segments, like manufacturing plants, gas stations, malls, etc..

    But I’m not too crazy about their name. Marketing will be important for their growth.

  • JB

    I never comment on these things but honestly and respectfully disagree with this solution. The receptionist is the first thing outside clients and potential clients see when phoning in or paying a visit. They are problem solvers and tone setters. I’m extremely turned off when I show up to a company and am greeted by a machine. It’s akin to outsourcing customer service to a country where the (cheaper) employees don’t speak a version of the English language that’s easily decipherable. How annoying is that? Isn’t enough of the planet turning to impersonal machines? How nice is it when you show up to a meeting and are greeted with a warm smile and a great personality offering you a cup of coffee or water?

    Although I admire you and your partners greatly Brad — I think you are falling prey here to the rest of society’s rapid digression to a world where, in this case, technology is taking away a much needed human element.

    Call me old fashioned, but I think this represents a step backwards in our evolution.

    Apologies if you all are investors, which you probably are, and please say hi and remind Ryan he agreed to let me sit in on one of his and Jason’s recording sessions. I’ll be in Colorado Springs for a board meeting December 16th and if they by chance are in town and recording or playing a gig, I’m a big fan of their music, would love to check them out and could fly in the 14th or 15th.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I totally respect your opinion. We aren’t investors BTW.

  • Leonard Welter

    Saw this when I visited TechStars in Boulder (or was it GNIP? same office anyway!) – thought it was a great idea. Thought it was it was widely available at the time. Even told someone about it last week. Now I know the name!

  • eliasmoubayed

    I tend not to comment either but also respectfully disagree with the solution. I am less bothered by the fact that there isn’t anyone on reception, although it is preferable and it does set the tone. I also understand companies who aren’t quite big enough for a receptionist. I suspect you are big enough however and I think you could have found a bright younger local person without a job and given them one. You never know what might happen – clearly should be able to do the reception job but probably all sorts of other things too. If you hire someone with smarts maybe they can help with desk research – who knows you might inspire them into a life of entrepreneurship. Sort of like the mailroom job in talent agencies in hollywood. Ironically, I am pretty sure it was one of your posts that turned me on to the book ‘the last firewall’, with all the robots and disenfranchised humans. This solution feels a lot like that to me.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Thx for the comment! We aren’t that big – only 12 people. And we’ve already got four assistants, so all the random stuff is covered. Having a receptionist on top of this is way overkill, so in the past the default was one of the four of them had to handle it as well. And that was a drag for them.

  • pasmith

    In the right situation this is a great solution

  • tchazzard

    Interesting solution. Perhaps you could mount an iPad to a Roomba to combine greeting with cleaning.

    • JC

      Follow me, I’ll take you to your meeting.

  • receptionist

    Thanks a lot TextUs.Biz. I’m coming out with a new app soon that replaces engineers.

    – a receptionist

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Awesome!

    • RBC

      hahaha +1

    • Ted Guggenheim – TextUs.Biz

      We are working on that, but the the devs keep quitting. Not sure why . . .?

  • RBC

    As part of your next video maybe you can do a first person tour of a visitor coming to your office. You could get this guy to film it from his bike …http://vitaminl.tv/video/483?ref=rcm

  • Lindsay Trinkle

    We

    • Ted Guggenheim – TextUs.Biz

      Thanks Lindsay! Keep spreading the word!

  • Professor Om Prakash Misra

    I think it can be true as stated provided if some one has more busy life thinking about welfare of people?

  • JC

    I was surprised to see it when I visited your office last spring, but the “customer experience” was great. No more sitting and wondering if anyone knows you are there, or being annoyed that you are being actively ignored by the person behind the desk. :)

  • JKD

    I’ve used the app, and I think it’s a terrific solution for office spaces with multiple small businesses that wouldn’t easily be able to pool resources to hire a traditional receptionist, as well as for really small businesses that can’t afford a full time receptionist. It’s also not a bad idea to have one to supplement a “live body” at the front desk… every human being needs to pop out for lunch every once in a while.

    • Ted Guggenheim – TextUs.Biz

      Great point! The Receptionist can be an excellent complement to a live person in connecting the visitor with the contact wherever that person might be, in the building or elsewhere. Receptionist can even print badges and keeps a detailed, exportable Visitor Log.

  • Nicola

    How does this work if employees in the office do not have Apple products or company cell phones? Can it be tied to their Windows desktop email via Outlook or Google?

    • Ted Guggenheim – TextUs.Biz

      Hi Nicola! Receptionist communicates with the contacts (employees) via any text-capable device, personal, company or otherwise. It also sends an email instantly to the contact notifying you of the visitor’s arrival. The email contains a number of prewritten responses in the form of links that you can use to reply to the visitor as well.

  • robchogo

    sweet. Just signed up. Now need to find a nifty stand :)