We’re thrilled to announce today that Welkio, the product that originated at a Hathway Hackathon, has been acquired by WeWork, the platform for creators that provides beautiful workspace, an inspiring community, and business services to thousands of members at more than 75 locations worldwide. We’re excited for the Welkio team and proud that by following our mantra of innovating like startups, we created a successful startup of our own. While the Welkio team will be moving to New York to join WeWork, Hathway will remain an independent agency and will continue its mission to help clients leverage mobile to innovate like startups.
“The creation, incubation, spinoff, and acquisition of Welkio is a great representation of what we can do, not just for ourselves but also for our clients,” says Jesse Dundon, CEO of Hathway.
“I’ve become a big fan of WeWork ever since we set up our San Francisco office at their Transbay location, so I’m pleased with the result and am excited for Welkio to grow within WeWork,” Dundon continues.
This move will allow Hathway to accelerate the work we do building apps, websites, and mobile marketing campaigns for our clients. As for the Welkio team, headed up by long-time Hathway employees Florent Ferere and DJ Tarazona, the acquisition will help them take Welkio and their vision of making offices a friendlier space to new heights.
“We truly believe in what WeWork is doing, and we are excited to be a part of it as well as continue to build great products,” says Ferere, who founded Welkio.
Welkio is still open for business and will continue to serve its existing customers.
For those of you who don’t already know, here’s some history on how Welkio started and how they got where they are today.
On September 13, 2014, Hathway was just coming up for air after our first 24-hour Hackathon—an in-house creative brainstorming event that provided valuable skill development for our agency’s team of developers, designers, marketers, and executives. It was also a chance for team members to work alongside people they might not normally work with, and to produce projects they were personally passionate about, honing their skills for future client projects while opening the door to innovation. The event was a resounding success, and not just because the team had a ton of fun while learning some new skills. It was also the inception of a new product that would grow to be so much more.
Florent Ferere had noticed that larger firms like Facebook and Google had digital sign-in processes that had been developed in-house. Meanwhile, smaller companies were still utilizing outdated paper-and-pen sign-in books. Not only is this process often annoying to those using it; it can also have a negative impact on the security and friendliness of an office. Ferere had the idea to develop a SaaS platform and iPad kiosk that smaller companies could buy, keeping their costs low and visitors happy. As Hathway grew and our security and confidentiality needs expanded, Ferere became even more motivated to solve this problem.
With the upcoming Hackathon, it was the perfect opportunity to pitch his idea, and with that, Welkio was born. Over 24 hours, the Hackathon team—including Ferere, solution architect Eneko Alonso, and Dundon—designed and developed a working prototype of the Welkio platform and iPad kiosk app. After the Hackathon, we dedicated a small founding team, made up of Ferere and lead software engineer DJ Tarazona, to bring Welkio to market.
The Stars Aligned
Welkio picked up its first paying customers in March 2015 and continued to grow in both customers and key metrics, like total visits tracked on the system. We incubated the product for almost a year before spinning it off as its own company, Welkio Inc., in October 2015, with the intention of raising funds to further develop Welkio while allowing Hathway to focus on its core mobile agency line of business.
Meanwhile, in September 2015, we were looking for a home for Hathway San Francisco and chose WeWork’s office in the beautiful downtown Transbay building. There we became better acquainted with WeWork’s services, as well as their company and vision as a whole.
Following Welkio’s spinoff, WeWork reached out and demonstrated interest in implementing the visitor sign-in at their locations worldwide. WeWork then made an offer: they could continue as a Welkio customer, or they could acquire Welkio and in doing so strengthen their member experience. As WeWork’s mission to “create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living” aligns perfectly with Welkio’s vision, it was a match made in heaven.
A Happy Send-Off
Ferere credits much of Welkio’s success to the early support of the Hathway team. The Hackathon allowed for a fast turnaround on an initial idea, and continued support provided them with their logo design, development of their first website, and guidance on how to grow as a startup. Hathway’s Bay Area expansion also put Welkio on WeWork’s radar—something they hadn’t initially planned for.
Hathway could not be more pleased with this acquisition and wishes the Welkio team the best in this next chapter and looks forward to seeing their product in use worldwide.