Riff Co-Founders Isabel Bescos (CEO) and Matthew Scheybeler (CTO)

As the movement towards remote work, greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, becomes more widely adopted, the need for solutions that support team communication and collaboration are more important than ever, especially as many companies announce plans to now retain a fully distributed structure.

That’s why we’re excited to back Isabel and Matthew, the brains behind Riff – the voice-first chat tool set to revolutionise how teams communicate when working remotely – as part of a $1.5M seed round led by our friends at Balderton and with participation from angels including Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas, COO of GoCardless, Nicolas Brusson, CEO of BlaBlaCar and Tim Sadler, CEO of Tessian.

Set up by CEO Isabel Bescos (former head of corporate strategy at BlaBlaCar, and previously part of Balderton’s investment team), with CTO Matthew Scheybeler, (co-founder of Silicon Valley’s pioneering video search tool, blinkx), Riff is positioned as the answer to the everyday pain points felt by teams trying to communicate from different locations.

On why the need for Riff is more important now than ever, CEO and co-founder, Isabel Bescos, comments:

“Distributed teams require new tools to allow them to communicate as efficiently as when they were sat next to each other. Instant messaging tools can be distracting, jammed with notifications and hard-to-follow threads, and on the other hand, video conferencing tools often require additional software and tend to be used for pre-scheduled, formal meetings.
What is lacking is something that enables effortless and spontaneously collaboration throughout the day. The remote equivalent of turning to ask a colleague a quick question, or to discuss the project you are working on.

We are looking to replicate that ease and spontaneity with Riff in creating a totally new voice tool for teams. With Riff, users can instantly speak to any team member while collaborating on a piece of work. For example, Riff is particularly helpful whenever several members of a team need to work together on an urgent problem, such as solving a technical bug which could take several hours. Riff allows you to be connected to your team for long periods of time without the intensity of being on camera for hours on end. People can also drop in and out as needed without the need for scheduled calls.”

Isabel adds, “We wanted to take the speed and fluidity with which online gamers converse whilst gaming, and transpose it into the enterprise. Rather than inundating users with notifications, Riff hopes to simplify interactions. Speaking on Riff is less distracting than Slack or Email, but faster than scheduling and waiting for a video call.

“For years, companies have been searching for ways to make office communications faster. Not just for when team members are working from home, but between teams on different floors, different offices or across time zones. None have quite managed to combine speed and efficiency with security and minimal disruption until now. Plus, the potential of Riff is huge. We’re only just scratching the surface of what such a communication tool can do and offer to companies and it’s an exciting road to be on.”

On why we invested our Managing Partner, Carlos, comments:

“The need to communicate with team members, many of which are distributed around the world in times like these, is more important than ever. We are very excited to back Isabel, Matthew and their vision for Riff to reduce the pain that teams have in making communications more spontaneous and more relevant

Riff is currently in private beta and plans to launch publicly in 2021. The funding will be used to build out the engineering team and to develop Riff’s full feature suite.