Meetzoo is an interactive calendar that encompasses your schedule with your social media.
Paul Lewis-Borman, CEO and Founder of Meetzoo, has created an app to help boost the productivity of business meetings and minimise the ‘in one ear – out the other’ effect.
The innovative app enables you to work with others in order to plan and subsequently consolidate the discussion that takes place during meetings. The concept is simple yet effective, and the collaborative aspect of Meetzoo makes it truly unique.
“We are about to launch our crowd-funding campaign and we’ve had over 40k pledged already via our website”
We caught up with Paul to find out more about Meetzoo’s potential and his crowdfunding campaign which just launched this week – so you can invest now!
TechSPARK: How did Meetzoo come about?
Paul Lewis-Borman: The idea for Meetzoo came from my experience of business meetings over the past 20 years and the difficulty in maintaining continuity of thought and action among all the participants. I was going into meetings with half a dozen LinkedIn profiles open on my laptop browser and I thought “this is crazy I have all the email addresses in the calendar invite, why can’t I link to the LinkedIn profiles from there? I then started analysing how I and others manage meetings and where the inefficiencies were and one of the key things was the time taken in creating, distributing and finding meeting minutes.
“I love the South West, I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurial ambition and talent here”
I thought there has to be a better way and so I went looking for an app to solve the problem, but couldn’t find one that provided the flexibility yet integrated approach I think we need when working together in modern business meetings. Meetzoo is my solution to this problem!
TS: How does Meetzoo work?
PLB: Meetzoo combines your calendar with social media profiles and collaborative note taking to:
- Tell you information about who you’re meeting
- See when you met before and what you talked about
- To share agenda items, notes and actions
- To quickly and easily connect with new contacts
- Allow you to push meeting minutes directly into your existing CRM system
TS: What have been some biggest successes to date for Meetzoo?
PLB: We have established and trademarked our brand in both the UK and the USA and our public Beta was launched recently for which we’ve had great feedback and participation. We are about to launch our crowd-funding campaign and we’ve had over 45k pledged already via our Meetzoo website.
TS: How has the South West tech community helped you setting up your startup?
PLB: I love the South West, I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurial ambition and talent here. I volunteer some of my time as a Mentor at the Entrepreneurial Spark incubator in Bristol – an initiative by RBS to support (mostly) first-time entrepreneurs, and I’m always delighted with the enthusiasm and smart ideas that are coming out of this area. I frequently work from The Engine Shed which is a great hub of support and resources for a startup business.
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TS: Are you excited to be involved with the Crowd10 crowd-funding accelerator programme?
PLB: Doing your first crowd-funding campaign is a bit like planning your wedding – there are a lot of people counting on you and you have to get it right! So it really helps to have experienced hands to guide you and this is what Kirsty Ranger and the team at Crowd10 do.
They have tremendous experience in this area and they enable you to concentrate your time and efforts on what’s worth doing and how to maximise your campaign. They also know how to work with entrepreneurs – we’re not the easiest people in the world to work with!
Check out Meetzoo’s crowdfunding campaign video:
PLB: My code writing days are far behind me so unlike my previous startup where I wrote the basic product, with Meetzoo I needed a team to do this under my guidance. So I found myself in a situation not dissimilar to non-technical founders.
This presents a bit of a chicken and egg situation because you can’t create a product without a budget to fund it, and you can’t get investment unless you’ve got at least a minimum viable product (MVP). So you have to be inventive. I found a low-cost offshore company that loved the Meetzoo concept and offered them a combination of a monthly retainer and share equity to get the product built.
“Employing smart people is the key to success, remember you need to work on your business, not in it. One person is not a business”
It still cost me quite a lot, but not as much as if I’d had to pay a full-time team. The rub is that you always play second fiddle to whatever they are doing to “pay their bills”, so I needed to be patient and sometimes bite my lip where in a previous life I would have had more control. Ultimately, however, it got us to a stage where we have a beautiful product and a successful beta program, so it was worth it.
What advice would you give to others thinking about starting their own app?
PLB: 1) Bring people with you – offering shares or share options to get people involved and drive down your costs
2) Employ people as soon as you possibly can – in any capacity: volunteer, shares in return for work, part-time, whatever. Employing smart people is the key to success, remember you need to work on your business, not in it. One person is not a business.
3) Make it beautiful – I risk running contrary to Eric Reis and The Lean Startup, but the fact is people eat with their eyes so don’t concentrate just on functionality. People need to fall in love with your product, and that’s an aesthetic thing. People will decide if they like your product within a few seconds of seeing it, so all the great functionality you build means nothing if they already decided they don’t like it. It’s a very tough job bringing people back once they’re turned off. But if they fall in love with your product, then they will forgive a few bugs and lack of features because they will be dreaming about how great this “beautiful” product is going to be.
TS: How can people get involved with Meetzoo?
PLB: We are now crowdfunding UK’s leading equity crowdfunding site Crowdcube, so people now have the opportunity to share in our success and own shares in Meetzoo. Investing is simple and you can invest anything from £10 upwards and investors may be eligible for a reduction in their income tax bill equivalent to 50p for every £1 they invest, under the governments SEIS scheme. You can see Meetzoo’s crowdfunding pitch on Crowdcube now.
TS: What’s next for Meetzoo?
We will use the funds raised from our crowd-funding campaign to employ a full-time development and support team to drive our exciting roadmap forward. We have a huge opportunity for growth and a ready-made market in the 450m LinkedIn users worldwide alone. Our aim is to target 10% of this base in the next 4 years which will generate us in excess of £40m annual revenues. We’ve seen one of our US competitors acquired by Cisco just last week, so it’s all to play for and I’m very excited about it.
Thanks very much to Paul for taking the time to chat to us. You can help put Meetzoo on the map now by donating here as the crowd-funding campaign is officially underway! To keep up to date with Meetzoo’s latest news check out the Meetzoo website or you can follow them on Twitter here: @MeetzooApp