Discover the backstory on your potential nanny. Scour the streets for your missing terrier. Find out if your spouse has been a little less than faithful.
Those are all tasks that can be accomplished at Trustify, a thriving tech company that recently relocated from Georgetown to Crystal City and blends old-school private investigation with new software.
“I want Trustify to be looked at as being the one-stop shop for all of your trust and safety needs,” says Jennifer Mellon, Trustify’s co-founder and president.
For $99 per hour, clients can have Trustify—a truncation of “trust but verify”—draw on its tech resources and brigade of more than 7,000 private investigators to dig deep into a particular query. And at any point, users can stop the process or decide to delve further. And for about 80 percent of Trustify’s clients, the service is their very first experience using a P.I.
Rather than providing the criminal history found in a mere background check, Trustify illuminates a more complete subject profile, asking: Who have they lived with? Who have they done business with? What are they doing on social media? What does a Google search turn up? What’s on the dark web about them?
The business employs about 35 staff members in-house. Mellon expects the staff total to reach 50 by year’s end.
Trustify’s new 10,000-square-foot, Wingate Hughes-designed office is a blend of a gumshoe film set and a WeWork location—a little too swanky for J.J. Gittes but just right for Bogart. On entry, visitors are welcomed to a beverage from a built-in bar stocked with branded coffee mugs, Moscow mule glasses, beer taps and a Vivreau water dispenser. As they wait, they can settle into a cushy yellow and white armchair while doodling in a provided book of drawing prompts. And just down the hall sit a row of small, wallpaper-lined rooms with hidden doors looked after by busts of wild animals.
“We’re building a different kind of technology company, so any space we had, we wanted to be really conducive to the kind of culture we’re creating,” Mellon says. The company also sponsors a service day once a month, and employees who participate earn an additional 8 hours of paid leave for further volunteerism.
Mellon and her husband, co-founder and CEO Danny Boice, launched Trustify in 2015 after stumbling on a huge untapped market for private investigative work. They have used the company to vet nannies for their five children, and they strive for a work-life balance at the office with two nursing rooms and a library for relaxation, plus a book club.
“I want you to plant deep roots,” Mellon says. “That’s one of the huge issues of women in tech: They come in, and they get burned out. They work crazy hours and they don’t see any path to a future.”
Trustify takes on paid and pro bono cases across the country and also works internationally, including a recent investigation into stolen artwork in Switzerland. Down the road, Mellon hopes the company will be considered a go-to digital service, a la Google, Instagram or Lyft.
Mellon is proud of the way Trustify has “democratized” the process of investigative work. “It’s really changed how the game’s been played, and it’s been super interesting to us in terms of how we’ve taken this massive market and then expanded it,” she says.