Built In Chicago: Envoy helps businesses employ a global workforce
Built In Chicago
By Brian Nordli
When it comes to immigration, technology is often an afterthought.
Envoy Global is attempting to change that.
We spoke to three leaders to learn more about how Envoy has grown — and the opportunity they have to help a global population through tech.
EMPLOYEES: 94 local
WHAT THEY DO: Envoy provides attorneys and a platform that helps companies navigate U.S. immigration policies, work through the complexities of global work permits and visas, and manage a global workforce.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago
WHO THEY HELP: 30,000 immigrants, visa workers and expats around the globe.
Dick Burke, CEO
As CEO, Dick Burke is focused on building a strong team, determining Envoy’s strategy and ensuring all teams work together to execute that strategy.
BEYOND WORK: He loves spending time with his children.
I understand you joined in 2015 when Envoy transitioned from a privately held company to taking on venture capital. How did you help lead that transition?
I was hired to scale the business. I had recently left Apartments.com following its sale and was attracted to Envoy’s mission, addressable market, competitive landscape and backing. Since then, we’ve more than tripled our rate of growth by hiring and developing a great team to lead improvements in our platform and relentlessly focusing on our customers’ needs.
How has the company evolved from when you joined to where it is now?
The majority of our changes have been focused in two areas — the quality of our service and our technology platform. To improve the quality of our service, we’ve increased the experience level of our team, enhanced their connection with our customers by being more accessible and proactive, expanded our ability to secure work authorizations across the globe and demanded that we deliver exceptional service.
Meanwhile, we’ve increased the functionality of our technology platform for securing a visa in the United States and launched software that simplifies the work authorization process in foreign countries. As we work with larger organizations, we’ve built out capabilities that help companies manage their entire foreign national populations, whether or not they used us to secure their work authorization.
What challenges came with scaling the company? Opportunities?
The biggest and most persistent challenge is recognizing that what got you to $10 million won’t get you to $20 million and then $50 million. We view ourselves as a perpetual work in progress, so we’re always evolving.
Scaling creates opportunities to develop new skills, learn new concepts and grow at an individual and company level. Change is hard, but if you can persevere, coming out the other side is extremely rewarding personally and professionally.
Where do you see Envoy in one year? In five?
We’re going to keep listening to our customers and develop offerings that make it easier for them to hire and manage their employees across borders. We want to remove as much of the friction from the immigration process as possible, giving employees and leaders more peace of mind in an increasingly challenging and uncertain time.
What issues are most pressing when it comes to immigrants in the workforce? What role can Envoy play in addressing those issues?
Our country needs a debate based on facts and premised on the reality that immigration reform is a “both/and” issue, not an “either/or” one. Our 1,000-plus customers (and the 400 others we interview for our annual Immigration Trends Survey) make clear that they can’t find enough U.S.-born talent to meet their needs and that STEM workers create jobs through their innovations. If the process of securing a visa to the U.S. becomes too onerous, it will either delay work at these companies or they’ll move overseas.
Sensible reform addresses the persistent gap between the supply of U.S.-born STEM talent and the demand for it. It addresses those instances of abuse that make people question the entire H-1B program.