New Automation Startup Relay Challenges Zapier With Workflow Automation Platform


A new automation startup, Relay, has officially launched to the public, aiming to provide a workflow automation platform that goes beyond triggers and actions. The San Francisco-based company, led by founder Jacob Bank, is targeting mundane and repetitive tasks, offering collaborative workflows that support multiple stakeholders working in tandem.

Key Takeaway

Relay, a new automation startup, has launched a workflow automation platform that offers collaborative workflows beyond triggers and actions. With its emphasis on human-in-the-loop approvals and AI-powered features, Relay aims to provide a complete alternative to established automation platforms like Zapier.

Background and Founding

Relay is the brainchild of Jacob Bank, the founder of the smart scheduling app Timeful, which was acquired by Google in 2015. Bank joined Google and played a crucial role in integrating Timeful’s technology into various products. After leaving Google, Bank founded Relay, recruiting former colleagues from Google to join the venture.

Collaborative Workflows

Relay differentiates itself by focusing on collaborative workflows rather than simply automating data flows between products. The platform allows companies to automate tasks such as organizing all-hands meetings or onboarding new recruits, reducing the amount of human admin hours required for repetitive tasks. For example, Relay can integrate with productivity tools, calendars, and team collaboration software to ensure that all contributors receive the correct presentation template before a meeting and create a dedicated Slack channel for the meeting.

Funding and Expansion

Relay initially raised $5 million in a seed round of funding led by Khosla Ventures during its beta phase. The company has recently secured an additional $3.1 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (A16z) to support its growth. Relay currently has a workforce distributed across the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

A Complete Alternative to Zapier

Relay has evolved from being a “todo list for repeated sets of tasks” to a full-fledged workflow automation platform that offers hundreds of triggers and actions spanning various integrations. The company has also embraced AI advancements in the form of an AI assistant powered by ChatGPT, which can suggest content, extract information, summarize notes, and autofill fields. Relay’s AI capabilities, such as AI Autofill and AI Classify, enable users to automate tasks like generating email responses and classifying incoming emails based on content.

Human-in-the-Loop Approvals

One of Relay’s key differentiators is its emphasis on human-in-the-loop approvals. While automation plays a significant role in speeding up processes, the platform ensures that humans have the final say in approving specific actions. Relay allows users to double-check steps before execution, input missing data, add personalized content, and more. The company believes that certain workflows require human judgment and aims to seamlessly integrate human input into its automation processes.

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