Conversation with - Image credit Pixabay/GeraltRich Waldron is the co-founder and CEO of Enterprise Times had the opportunity to talk to him about the company and its journey. Tray was originally described as an IPaaS vendor; it is now fulfilling what its founders originally set out for the company to do, as hyper-automation emerges as a better descriptor for its functionality.

What is Tray?

Waldron replied, “Tray is an automation platform that makes it easy for our customers to connect systems internally or externally, dependent on their needs. We combine many different software platforms within our service and programming concepts to make it simple for low-code development across all mediums.”

Tray is a private company. It last raised funds in September 2022 as part of a staggered Series C round. In total, the company has raised around $149 million. What statistics can you share about Tray as a company?

“We typically don’t share revenue. From a customer perspective, we are in the early 1,000s. We’ve been growing around 80% year on year, which has been particularly accelerated post the pandemic. In terms of offices, we’re based in many different locations now. Our headquarters are in San Francisco. We have an office in London. We’ve set up shop in Sydney. Then we have many hubs, typically in North America. We predominantly have employees working out of hubs in Atlanta, San Diego, LA, Chicago, and Boston. From an employee perspective, we’re hovering around the 300 mark.”

On Achievements

What have you achieved this year?

“This year has been a great year for Tray. We’re on track to get close to doubling our revenue over the past 12 months. Our embedded line has been particularly strong. We’ve seen real growth in companies looking to open up and extend their integration responsibilities to their customers. They effectively use us to build the native integrations into their product and take advantage of our architecture to enable that.”

On the vision

What’s your vision for Tray?

“We didn’t start out thinking about integration as the primary use case. The goal for us from day one, and continues to be, is that we’re about enabling people to problem solve without the limitations that come with technology.”

What do you mean by that?

“When you buy software, the lion’s share of the value is restricted to people who can code. If you think about buying a major CRM, or a piece of ERP technology, typically, the most powerful elements of those services are hidden behind the API. That’s where you get access to the data, and that’s where you get access to the full functionality. The best companies figure out ways to effectively create their processes.

“Our vision was more. What if we could take knowledge workers and effectively give them the capability of an engineer? What if we could democratise the elements of programming that make it so valuable and make it visual? In doing so, what we recognise is that we effectively enable people to solve their own problems. Engineers are not pulled off important projects to work on line-of-business challenges. It also means not trying to get people to stand up expensive and difficult-to-use IPaaS solutions.

“That vision effectively drives how we build our product. Our platform is entirely browser-based. You can get started instantaneously. Our customers can process more data, quicker than traditional iPaaS vendors.

“Where it gets really interesting is, what if you start packaging up those solutions and making them available to configure for even less technical users? What if you effectively become a business programming language internally within an enterprise? That’s very much how we think about the ultimate direction. It transcends the integration market we’ve seen historically and takes advantage of a lot of the back-end technology growth we’ve seen over the past 10 years since we started the business.”

On partners

On the website, you have a list of partners that appear to be more technology partners than channel or consulting partners. What is your partner strategy?

“We have a two-pronged approach. What we found to be particularly beneficial for us is that we can work with specialised technology partners.

“What is interesting about the partner realm is that historically, they made all of their consulting dollars by offering the consulting service in the actual implementation of the tech or standing up the product.

“Today, you’re getting specialised partner vendors, who will become experts in, say, marketing and sales operations or finance operations. We work directly with them because we can package up use cases that they can then take to their customers.

“For example, a NetSuite quote to cash integration. You can template out a product that gives you the kick-off point from a partner engagement perspective. It means that the partner is specifically focused on serving those types of audiences that become a beneficial audience for us.

“Then you have your traditional consulting agreements. The big consulting shops who are looking to go and add additional technology services to their book of business. They’re getting a lot of demand for how do we automate various functions more effectively?”

On the future

What do you hope to achieve in 2023?

“The important thing for us as a business is that we continue on the path we’re already on. We’ve found a great balance for how we go to market. We’ve grown our enterprise account list in the past 18 months. Effectively, you will see more of the same from us in that perspective.

“What you may see coming from us in the future is leaning even more heavily into opening up more of our services so that you can build on top of Tray. To be a truly powerful automation vendor, you’ve got to go and deliver what you’re telling the rest of the market it needs to do. Every service you use should be configurable via an API and accessible, and you should be able to scale on it. Automation vendors really should be the same.

“What we’re starting to see is the DevOps function rise up and look at how they can even more deeply seat automation into their private cloud initiatives. That gives them the capability to build their own internal bespoke automation services, and they can use our pre-built infrastructure to go and scale that.”

Growth plans

What are your plans for international growth?

“We’ve made some pretty big strides in the past 12 months. We stood up our APAC team. We’ve regionalised our products so you can run the data through the most appropriate residencies. Today, Tray sells worldwide. You’ll see us continue to do that by hiring in additional regions and expanding our reach from a partner perspective.”

What is your acquisition strategy?

“Acquisitions is a funny one for me. It can be very hard to justify the value between folding in new technology and building nascent technology yourself. To date, we’re very much taking a stance that everything that we build within our service is quicker to market and of higher quality. We effectively look to hire in expertise for the areas that we’re moving into.

“As we’ve added, for example, the regionality to our platform and stood up the analytics within our service, we’ve gone out and effectively acquired what we believe to be the best talent and the folks with the most knowledge when it comes to delivering those services.

“For us on the acquisition side, we’re keeping an eye on some of the subsidiary vendors that provide solutions that may fit nicely with us or dovetail nicely with us. That would initially look like a partnership, an example there being EDI. We’ve done some great partnerships, which have extended the use of our platform. At some point, it may make sense that we formalise that in a slightly different way.”

On focus

What’s your focus on a target market sense?

“The nice thing about being an integration vendor is you can work across verticals. That means we predominantly target that early enterprise segment as a core user. We find that the requirements of that group very much mirror a large enterprise and mid-market because fast-growing mid-market organisations are typically hiring folks that have historically been at enterprises. They stand up their internal solutions in a similar manner.

“What that means is, from a domain perspective, we can be really specific about the verticals that we then sell into because we aren’t tied to going after a specific industry. You already see a lot from us on the revenue side of our house; we’ve had a lot of historical success there. You’ll continue to see us have a very clear line focus on IT, because we think that’s a broadly underserved market from an automation perspective.

“Lastly, on the embedded side of the house, major SaaS vendors are a big audience for us. They have a huge headache when integrating solutions for their customers. Outside of that, we typically land all over the map. We sell to eCommerce providers, have use cases for Customer Success teams, and offer many solutions from a finance perspective. Whilst you see our focus, more from the marketing materials we’re putting out, that general automation approach is where Tray sings best.”


What are your challenges?

If you think about it, the world’s been through a bit of a tumble cycle. We’ve gone from extremely locking down every industry, every supply chain, constraining growth in really every way possible. Every business had to adapt to that at the drop of a hat. Then we’ve had the most explosive 18 to 24 months that have probably existed in the last 20 years of software. Having then adapted back the other way everybody’s looking at this saying, well, we’ve got an entirely new market that we have to go and work and balance our way through.

“The biggest challenge many companies face today, beyond the economics of that, is thinking about it at a human level. Everybody’s gone from being locked at home to being back outdoors. We’ve now seen a lot of challenges for many organisations from a headcount perspective, and the variance of that has changed.

“When you’re running an organisation that has the ambitions that Tray does and the growth that Tray has had, you’ve got to think about what this next term will look like. How do you navigate through it? That’s an all-consuming event and is a primary challenge for everybody in the market. Certainly, it takes up a lot of our time.

“Beyond that, it’s the good old-fashioned fun of bringing a better piece of software to an old market and knocking out some of the older vendors along the way. That, as much as it is a challenge is also what makes us fun!”

The book question

What was the latest book you read, and what was your take out for business from it?

The book I’m currently reading isn’t related to business at all. For me, that’s quite important, because so much of the time is spent thinking about and looking through the lens of how you run and scale software business.

“I’m actually currently reading Anthony Bourdain’s book (Amazon Aus, UK, US). The perspective you get there is how somebody gets through a cutthroat industry and does it by being incredibly personal. By having something that has a magnetism about that individual. That is ultimately what makes people want to follow them.

“I think that is directly correlated to how to scale a business because it is a leap of faith. You do have to create an organisation where everybody’s aligned around a similar goal and where people think similarly. If you only do everything by the book, you just feel like everybody else. That’s been my main takeaway so far.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here