Do raises $2M to make meetings more efficient

Steven Loeb · March 11, 2015 · Short URL:

Do also announces new integration with Microsoft Office 365

Let's be honest here: we all know that meetings are sometimes important, but nobody actually likes going to them. I used to work at a company where I would get pulled away from the work I was doing to go sit in a room and listen to somebody lecture about this or that. Mostly it had nothing to do with me. And guess what? I still had to get that work done on time, even though I had just lost an hour of my time.

Do, which just raised a $2 million seed round, is on a mission to eliminate the pain of excessive and unnecessary meetings, offering up a suite of tools designed to make them go faster and be more efficient. 

The seed round included investors such as NEA, Path founder Dave Morin, early Facebook employee Kevin Colleran, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Chegg co-founder Aayush Phumbhra, Cotap CEO and former Yammer Chief Product Officer Jim Patterson, along with other prominent angels. The company had previously raised a $400,000 pre-seed round, and was incubated through Sherpa Ventures. 

Founded in 2013, Do is a meeting management startup that offers ways for employees to not only be better prepared for meetings, but to collaborate ahead of time to cut down on time.

"We know how painful meetings can be for people. Our general way of thinking about it is that they are often a waste of time," Jason Shah, CEO of Do, told me in an interview. "What it boils down to is the fact that people are unprepared and that many meeting don't need to happen at all and have no purpose. Nobody is thinking about who actually needed to be there, and not inviting 10 instead of the two people that actually mattered."

Even though people work for the same company, and have common goal, they aren't on the same page, he said. So what the company did was build a product that allows people to prepare for their meetings ahead of time, and to get the most out of them.

That includes visual timelines of meetings, to show everyone what is happening right in front of them; the ability to set agendas, track followups and define outcomes beforehand; a shared canvas for all the notes, presentations and docs shared during the meeting; automatic meeting summaries, and even a timer to indicate if the meeting is going over schedule. 

Do can also connect it with other productivity tools including Evernote and, as of earlier this week, Microsoft Office 365. 

"That integration is important because is expands our addressable user base," Shah said. "This is a massive win for us because it gives the product to so many who have been wanting to use it since July of last year."

Now, when a users signs in with their Office 365 account, they will instantly see all of their meetings, both past and future, on Do's infinite scroll time line. On mobile, using the Do app for iPhone and iPad, means they can access all these meetings, too, being able to view agendas, set followups and outcomes, and share meeting summaries on the fly.

The team behind Do all have experience with workplace collaboration and enterprise social software companies. Shah was a product manager at Yammer, for example, and it was that experience that showed him some of what was missing from other similar services.

When someone would sign up for Yammer, he told me, it would be just that person. And while they could then invite other people, that was the only way to start to get value from it.

"It was cool technology to play around with, but it required getting other people on the platform. You were not going to post unless others were there. Over time, from a startup perspective, it becomes, 'how does someone sign up and get instant value out of the product?'" said Shah.

Yammer was a success despite that problem, but he made sure that Do would be valuable even to a lone user. So now, when someone signs up, they can go over what they want to cover in a meeting, creating a checklist of all the points they want to hit.

"It gets better when other people get involved, and everyone gets more out of meeting, but the individual also gets value."

It is important to note, though, that Do goes beyond just collaborative features. What sets it apart from other similar companies it the approach it takes toward its users.

"This problem is not new. The problem that meetings suck has been around a long time. Our approach is not so much a tech driven one. Over the past 20 to 25 years the big development was video conferencing. The ability to communicate across the globe doesn't do anything to fix the problems when meetings are so bad. It doesn’t solve the root problem with meetings," Shah said.

"We are thinking about the human side of the problem, not just building technology to fix it. Why is someone late? It's because they doesn’t value it. Why is a meeting without an agenda? Maybe its the only way that a boss knows people will show up and do their work, and if they left it up to emailing nothing would happen. These are human problems, rather than problems with code. We are driven by a human and sociological angle. It's not a better widget, it's really understanding people’s problems."

Others in the space, do not have that philosophy or skill set.

When I asked Shah to elaborate on what this all means, he told me that the company is keeping it "close to the chest" right now, and that he could not discuss it further. It definitely sounds like Do has something interesting up its sleeve which would go deeper and further to fixing the problem.

Founded in late 2013, and launched in July of 2014, Do already has 5,000 companies using it. 

The company will use its new funding to launch new product features that will be available on a paid version of the app. Right now the product is free, but the company wants to roll out a paid version, and that requires product development.

Some of those features will include enhanced security and administrative tools, as well as business intelligence for enterprises.

The funding will also go toward building up the team, which currently consists of five employees.

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