The request is innocent enough, “Let’s meet next week to discuss.” It’s the absurd number of time-consuming emails that comes after that’s the problem.
Ahoy.Ai’s research found that the average worker spends in excess of three hours a month scheduling meetings. Instead, the Columbus-based startup offers an alternative to go from suggestion to scheduled in three steps.
It was the co-founders’ experiences trying to schedule a team meeting that prompted the startup to pivot to Ahoy.Ai.
“It was really hard among four people to find a common time to meet,” says CEO & Co-Founder Jesse Rowe. While studying operations management and new media technology at OSU, Rowe met fellow co-founders Max Dignan, Alex Ogorek and Ryan Faulhaber through student-led incubator and entrepreneurial club D3.
Initially the group was accepted into the Lumos accelerator with collaborative task management app Chek. After working on the startup for 11 months with okay results, the fateful meeting interlude shifted their focus in November of 2016.
Already in the calendar space exploring scheduling and productivity, “We were already familiar with this industry so we kind of knew competitors, what they did, what they didn’t do, and how we could really differ ourselves from them,” Rowe says.
Ahoy.Ai stands out by largely eliminating the “does this time work for you?” back-and-forth. All it takes is one email to get the schedule rolling.
Say an employee wants to meet with a group of their coworkers. The organizer would send an email to the attendees with text like “let’s meet for coffee next Tuesday morning” and cc firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants then receive an email asking to confirm that they want to meet. With invites accepted, the next email is an update with the final date and time of the meeting, complete with synced calendar invite.
Email isn’t the only option for Ahoy.Ai’s convenience. The service also offers integration with Slack. A /meet and tag of the participants, and Ahoy.Ai goes to snycing with the email associated with the account.
It’s email magic accomplished through natural language processing (NLP) and algorithms. The NLP looks for keywords like days of the week to establish timing priority, or words like coffee for morning hours, or drinks for evening. Ahoy-ers sync their calendars with the service at the first on-boarding experience so algorithms can cross-reference participants for optimal times.
What about those no-go times that might not be on a calendar? Ahoy.Ai makes room for those too with a dashboard where users can enter preferred times, or blacklist times.
There’s nothing to download and no app, getting started is as simple as cc’ing email@example.com in an email. After a fee 30-day trial, the service is $10/month and B2B packages are $6/month per active seat.
Rowe says they’ve outlined a few different groups of Ayoh.Ai target users. Sales and HR teams can leverage the technology for external meeting scheduling, while office assistants, managers and executives find scheduling value for internal meetings.
The email and Slack services are up and running, with the Slack option bringing in about 150 teams since its launch just a few weeks ago. But Rowe says now begins the refinement stage.
“The main thing that we’re working on right now is building out that NPL,” Rowe says.
They will also be deploying more machine learning aspects. Ideally, Ahoy.Ai will learn when users want to schedule meetings and who they typically schedule them with and find optimal times around that knowledge. Features like booking meeting rooms through email are on the table as well.
For more information, visit ahoy.ai.