We’ve raised $13.5M in new capital to continue on our mission to make every meeting more inclusive and worthwhile. The Series A was led by David Hornik of Lobby Capital, and with participation from an incredible group of seasoned founders and operators including Tope Awotona (CEO and Co-Founder of Calendly), Des Traynor, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, of Intercom), Ethan Eismann (VP of Design at Slack), Viviana Faga (ex-CMO of Yammer and Zenefits), David Fraga (ex-President of InVision), Frederic Kerrest (Executive Vice Chairman, COO, and co-founder of Okta), and others.
Over the past decade we’ve seen the workplace become increasingly distributed. And in the last 18 months, COVID has dramatically accelerated the trend and acceptance of remote and distributed work.
In tandem, we’ve seen huge productivity enhancements…driven by full-stack, collaboration software designed around distributed work: code, design, tasks, and the written word. The most time consuming part of our day, however, remains untouched: meetings.
Time spent meeting has never been so important
Take a peek at anyone’s calendar these days and you’re met with block after colorful block of meetings. These blocks didn’t instantly stack up the moment we all started working from home. Death by meeting has been creeping up on us for years.
In fact, before the pandemic, most of us were spending at least half of every day in meetings. The proliferation of video calls over the last year only brought the trend into sharper focus.
One-on-ones. Team meetings. Sales calls. Customer interviews. Design reviews. Sprint planning. Metrics readouts. Team happy hour. All-hands. And how could we forget the good ol’ ad-hoc meeting?
We don’t have “Zoom fatigue.” We have meeting fatigue.
It’s tempting to say “enough already!” and embrace asynchronous communication practices. Despite the temptation, we’re still spending a lot of our days in meetings and for good reason–meetings are where great things happen.
The solution to meeting fatigue isn’t to abolish meetings. It’s to meet better.
Magic happens when people come together
Meetings are a critical element of how we always have and will continue to work. But most meetings as they exist today aren’t time well spent.
As we navigate hybrid work, head back to the office, or stay remote, there’s never been a better time to rethink our approach to meetings. It’s time to get the ineffective ones off our calendars and improve the quality of the ones that remain, whether they happen in person or over video. Here’s why.
1. When we come together in real-time, we connect to “something bigger” than our individual work. We build relationships and create shared understanding, which has been shown to promote increased teamwork and efficiency. Well-run meetings yield positive, actionable results.
2. Meeting better is a competitive advantage and can increase team productivity beyond the meeting itself. Countless studies have shown how much we dislike ineffective meetings – that’s ineffective meetings, not the act of meeting itself. A 2017 study showed that 71% of senior managers said meetings were unproductive and inefficient. Bad meetings don’t just suck when we’re in them; they’ve been shown to cast a productivity shadow after.
3. Meeting better has been shown to increase employee satisfaction and engagement. In one company where managers re-thought meetings, an employee survey showed a 42% increase in perceived team collaboration, a 32% increase in psychological safety to speak up, and a 28% increase in team performance. Not only that, but the company saw work/life balance satisfaction scores increase from 62% to 92%.
Ready to meet better? Meet Vowel.
There are plenty of tools out there to help host meetings, many of them a nice-to-have utility, from an era when meetings were almost always in-person. Over the last 20 years they’ve competed with each other over this audio improvement or that resolution enhancement. They let you see and hear each other. That’s it. They don’t really do anything beyond facilitating the meeting itself.
Enter Vowel, the world’s first complete meeting solution designed to make every meeting more inclusive and worthwhile – before, during, and after.
Vowel has everything you need to plan, host, act on, and revisit meetings –all in one place. Collaborative agendas, live notes, browser-based video, real-time transcription, meeting insights, and on-demand recordings. There’s nothing to download and no additional services to pay for.
We’re slowly opening up access to our product and you can sign up to meet better here.
Here are just a few of the key features teams using Vowel are relying on to transform their meeting rituals:
Automated Transcription & On-Demand Recordings
See exactly who said what and when – give credit where credit’s due. With automatic transcription, your meetings will be more inclusive since everyone can focus on being an active participant. No more multitasking, just better meetings for everyone.
Your meetings are recorded and instantly available to share when they’re done, allowing anyone who couldn’t attend, or attendees who want to revisit a decision, to do so when it suits them best–no files to download and no storage limits. Just hit play.
With a complete record of every meeting, it’s easy to catch up on what you missed and understand the context behind decisions that were made immediately after the meeting or at any point in the future. Watch the whole meeting at 2x or jump to a specific moment with keyword search powered by exactly what was said, and by whom.
Collaborative Agendas & Live Notes
Finally, your agenda and notes are connected to your meeting itself. When you meet with Vowel, everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and can come prepared. Your meetings will be more focused, stay on track, and drive alignment.
Everyone can review and contribute to the agenda beforehand, and edit in real-time during. No additional tools or screen sharing is required – all everyone needs is the meeting link.
It’s easy to mark progress, capture outcomes, and assign action items that everyone can see and revisit later with automated summaries and historical search.
Where we’re headed
With our new funding, we’re accelerating progress towards our vision of amplifying what teams can accomplish through the magic of people coming together. That starts with making Vowel super simple, reliable, and delightful to use, whether you’re jamming on the design of a new product feature with a colleague or closing a deal with a marquee customer.
First things first, we’re doubling down on the foundation of Vowel, making it dead simple for you to meet with anyone, wherever they are–on the go, halfway around the world, or both. 😉 In fact, in just the last couple of months we’ve launched support for joining meetings using a mobile device (in beta), personal meeting rooms to use with scheduling tools like Calendly, and more.
Before 2021 comes to a close, we’ll be launching a completely new in-meeting UI to make it easier for people to make their voice heard, whether that’s through voice, a hand raise, emoji, or a comment. And a new highlight feature will make it easier to share key clips after a meeting wraps.
We’re also in the process of overhauling agendas and notifications. Share and get input on agendas in advance of a meeting. Ready for a lot less “why are are we here?” and a lot more “let’s dive in”? Us too.
And with overhauled agendas comes a new daily digest email to help you remember action items from the day’s meetings, provide on-demand. recordings of meetings you missed, and get you prepped for the next day’s meetings.
As we roll out these new features, we’ll also be breaking new ground to enhance the power of in-meeting notes and automatic transcription. We’ll help you design better meetings and keep things on track, and give you meaningful insights into how to make your meetings more inclusive for all your participants. 😃