It’s a bittersweet day as we bid adieu to Comfy co-founder Andrew Krioukov, who after seven years of tirelessly building Comfy from the ground up, will be transitioning CEO responsibilities to Daniel Schroeder.
An early advocate and leader of digital transformation both in his decade-plus career at Philips and as VP of Siemens Smart Spaces program, Daniel brings an unparalleled level of passion and expertise to Comfy as it expands the delivery of its solution to workplaces around the world. Known around Comfy HQ for his contagious enthusiasm and relentless energy, Daniel agreed to pause for a beat and sit down with us to share his story, and his vision for Comfy and the #futureofwork.
You’ve been a champion of creating places that people love to work in for years, even before you joined Siemens. When did you first discover the importance of connected workplaces?
I began my career at Philips, launching product lines in new markets around the world. I worked in three continents and came to realize that the secret to achieving double-digit growth is building, leading, and enabling incredibly productive, innovative, and collaborative teams. This belief drove me to join Siemens in 2017 as VP of Smart Spaces, with the goal to maximize Siemens' strengths in building technologies to create smarter workplaces. To me, smarter workplaces are ones that are people-centric, where work is productive, innovative ideas are born, and collaboration is seamless.
When you think about how the nature of work has changed over the years—increasingly project-based, complex, and dispersed—by comparison, the way today's buildings are run and the way workplaces are designed are both shamefully behind the times.
When I first discovered Comfy, I thought, "Oh my god, this company is the future!" Comfy’s co-founders, Andrew and Steve (Dawson-Haggerty), have built a product that truly understands how workplace needs are changing, and how technology will meet the needs of today’s—and tomorrow's—workers.
What are you most excited about with Comfy’s position in the market today?
Before Comfy officially became part of the Siemens family, I worked with a team to evaluate dozens of market players working in the smart and digital workplace. Some of them made claims about personalized control, but after a bit of research it was clear that thanks to the leadership and technical expertise of Andrew and Steve, Comfy is the only market leader with potential to scale.
In the past year, as Comfy officially became a part of Siemens, I've been fortunate to join the Comfy team and share in major achievements. I've been impressed by how quickly we grew our technical capabilities—integrating with every major technology provider in building automation, occupancy sensing, and the digital workplace. We’ve anticipated and addressed some of the most complex workplace challenges of today’s enterprises by investing and executing against an ambitious product roadmap.
Comfy is an inherently agile organization. This is a major strength and why Comfy will continue to be an independently-run entity. At the same time, Comfy is backed by the resources and stability of Siemens, one of the world’s largest and most forward-looking enterprises. This is an incredibly powerful combination and I look forward to working alongside Steve (who will remain CTO), the rest of the management team, and the entire Comfy team to continue building on this market advantage.
"I truly believe Comfy has the ability to become the #1 employee platform in the world. We are not training to be second place."
Today more than ever, workplaces are expected to be hubs for innovation and productivity. How do you see Comfy helping companies address that need?
I talk to C-suite executives constantly. The pressure they are under to stay competitive and deliver shareholder value all relies on a simple challenge: How do we innovate more? How do we innovate faster? What spaces do we need to do so? Agile organizations work in rapid cycles of thinking and doing. They require physical and virtual environments that foster transparency, communication, and collaboration. They must constantly adapt their spaces to meet changing business needs.
Leading companies know their investments in real estate and technology directly impact workplace culture, but they need information to figure out how. Without visibility into what “works” and what doesn’t, even the most innovative companies struggle to create the optimal mix of spaces and services. Meanwhile, employees—along with their productivity, engagement, and creativity—are suffering; 93% of employees say their companies do not provide them with the best place to work.
For me, it’s about delivering technology that brings visibility into which spaces and facets of the workplace truly drive agility and innovation, while simultaneously empowering employees with the real-time information and control to be their most productive at work—that’s how Comfy is changing the game.
The workplace tech landscape has rapidly evolved in the past couple of years. What makes Comfy stand out?
The landscape has changed a lot, just in the past few years. We’re seeing many low-code occupant-facing platforms that connect with other workplace apps, but don't actually integrate with building systems. We're seeing smart building solutions that claim to be vendor-agnostic, but still operate on a building-by-building basis and aren't capable of scaling across diverse real estate portfolios. We’re seeing analytics dashboards that deliver on space utilization data, but leave occupant needs and feedback out of the equation.
Comfy is unique because we have the ability to do all these things. We offer a complete, end-to-end workplace solution. We have a real-time, secure connection to digital workplace apps, building systems, and IoT solutions. We understand the IT, OT, and IoT worlds. We have a strong track record of deploying in diverse building portfolios around the world, and for developing consumer-grade app technology that sticks. And, we do it rapidly. In the coming months, you’ll see the fruits of our labour with a Comfy that is more intelligent, more predictive, and more personalized than any workplace solution on the market today.
"Agile organizations work in rapid cycles of thinking and doing. They require physical and virtual environments that foster transparency, communication, and collaboration."
Over the past year, you’ve made a big impression on all of us on the Comfy team with your passion and contagious enthusiasm for this industry. What’s the most exciting aspect of your new role here at Comfy?
The people! I truly believe that people are the most critical aspect of any successful company. The people at Comfy are among the most innovative and passionate I have ever met. Fostering that culture and developing a workplace that supports them is super important to me.
Everyone at Comfy should be incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the years, and for what we will continue to achieve. The new modular app design that we just released a couple weeks ago is a perfect example of how we are continuously improving the Comfy solution to better meet the needs of today’s most innovative companies.
I feel incredibly privileged to be Comfy's new CEO. And, to be honest I only accepted the role with the reassurance that Comfy would stay Comfy. I am here to scale Comfy in every sense: To grow the number of Comfy users around the world, and to bring Comfy's culture and vision to every person we interact with.
We’re psyched to have you as part of the Comfy family, Daniel!
Interested in hearing more about Comfy’s vision for the #futureofwork? Contact us to continue the conversation.