Many companies prefer to have all their employees working under the same roof, but there has been a growing push toward the distributed workforce model. A key benefit of this approach is that companies can access a much wider talent pool, including those with no desire to up sticks and move to Silicon Valley or another major tech hub.
However, major obstacles can prevent startups from hiring beyond their immediate locale — including difficulties identifying a suitable location, finding real estate, and navigating local legal and tax structures. And it’s against this backdrop that Terminal is setting out to help startups establish remote teams by doing all the heavy lifting for them.
While Terminal has corporate offices in San Francisco (HQ) and New York, the company is looking to launch remote engineering hubs in strategic hiring locations around the world, allowing it to manage all the practicalities for any startup interested in expanding their talent base. This includes running the recruitment process, designing the office layout, and offering the HR services employees generally expect when joining a new company.
Terminal said that its campuses are custom-built “with a technical audience in mind,” which includes facilities for remote collaboration.
“Our design ethos is centered on productivity and ease — so you’ll find rooms that can adjust based on team size, a higher ratio of meeting-rooms-to-open-space, and top-of-the-line video conferencing and communication tools in every room,” Terminal CEO Clay Kellogg told VentureBeat.
Terminal launched out of stealth back in 2017 with three hubs in Canada — Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver — and has since added another in Toronto, as well as its first non-Canadian base, located in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Today, Terminal announced that it has raised $17 million in a series B round of funding, following its $10 million series A round last year. The fresh cash injection will go some way toward helping it expand to 10 more cities around the world over the next couple of years, according to the company, which will include additional hubs in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. From 2021, Terminal is eyeing an expansion to Europe and Asia.
At its launch back in 2017, Terminal said that it planned to open 10 campuses by the end of 2018 — something that evidently didn’t materialize. This, according to Kellogg, was due in part to a realization that scaling such an operation so quickly would require significantly more resources.
“Part of why we are raising this funding is to continue our expansion into more tech hubs at a faster rate,” he said. “We found that our current locations were thriving and growing much faster than we anticipated, so we shifted our focus to support and grow those campuses before opening new ones. In all four Canadian markets, we’ve expanded to larger campuses in the past 12 months. These large, premium campuses enable us to provide an even better experience for our members and clients.”
Another key selling point for Terminal is that it helps U.S. tech companies get around tightening immigration rules that have sent international workers migrating to Canada and elsewhere. Being able to build a remote engineering hub in Mexico, for example, makes it much easier to access top technical talent south of the border — “If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you,” is the general idea here.
“The demand for engineers exceeds the supply of talent in the Bay Area,” Kellogg added. “Terminal is solving a market-level problem with a macro-level solution, helping fast-growing companies gain access to technical talent they otherwise would struggle to hire.”
With the advent of the internet, remote working has become a major facet of the global economy. Figures suggest that more than two-thirds of employees work away from the office at least one day a week, while it’s estimated that half of the U.S. workforce could be remote by 2020 — up from 43% in 2016. A number of big-name companies have embraced the remote working ethos, including payments giant Stripe, GitLab, and Automattic — in fact, the WordPress.com developer recently launched a new suite of productivity tools aimed specifically at the distributed workforce.
However, it’s worth stressing that Terminal’s model isn’t about home-working. With dedicated hubs, it’s more about fostering the kind of community a bona fide second office might, minus most of the hassle involved in setting one up. In each campus you’ll find multiple teams from various companies, kind of like a typical co-working space with shared spaces for meeting rooms and amenities.
“We’re providing life-changing opportunities for engineers,” Kellogg continued. “Developers and programmers love building their careers in an engineer-centric community working on world-changing products. We’re offering them a vibrant community with all of the HR resources, benefits, and perks that they can get if they worked in Silicon Valley — without having to leave their hometown.”
“As a fast-growing company, being able to attract and retain top tech talent is critical to our success,” said KeepTruckin CEO and cofounder Shoaib Makani. “Terminal has been a key partner in helping us build our engineering team in Vancouver, and tapping into Terminal’s extensive network has reduced the time it takes to scale our team.”
Leading Terminal’s latest round of funding was 8VC, a San Francisco-based VC firm set up by Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale back in 2015. Also participating in the round was Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Atomic, Cathay Innovation, Cherubic Ventures, and Craft Ventures, among others.
“Terminal is taking aim at the biggest problem holding back innovation: access to top technical talent,” Lonsdale said. “The best engineers are no longer concentrated in the Bay Area. They exist all over the world. Terminal helps startups access these engineers. Many of our fast-growing companies at 8VC rely on Terminal to help them scale.”