23 March 2021
Why We Invested In Bizly

According to a study by Bain & Company, organizations spend about 15% of their time in meetings. However, that time is not distributed proportionally: middle managers spend 35% and senior managers spend up to 50% of their time in meetings. Time spent on conference calls, team check-ins, and other gatherings wouldn’t be a problem if more employees found them worthwhile, but corporate meetings have almost become synonymous with boredom, distraction, and lack of productivity. A Gallup poll conducted in 2020 reported that 72% of meetings are considered unproductive. According to a survey of 1400 professionals conducted by Wrike, 46% of office workers hate meetings and high meeting attendance was found to be correlated with low job satisfaction.

To address these problems, people have taken up meeting hacks. Tips or rules of thumb such as “keep the invite list as short as possible”, “set a hard stop” and, of course “don’t host a meeting when an email will do” are among the most popular meeting hacks. As one would expect, these hacks assume that meetings are inherently wasteful, and consequently, they optimize for limiting the amount of time spent on them. No doubt using a hack is better than doing nothing, but hacks can only go so far. Software is a much more sustainable and scalable way to unlock productivity from discussions. Tools like Zoom, Miro, and Asana each do a great job of addressing one or two particular issues involved with meetings — especially remote meetings — but none of them address all of the key issues that turn meetings into such frustrating experiences.

When we first met Ron Shah, Bizly’s founder, we immediately knew that he was on to something. He started his pitch by identifying three factors that make meetings unproductive. The first is poor planning. Few meeting hosts create agendas. Those who do, create them from scratch, failing to apply the right kind of plan to the right kind of meeting. Lack of data is another factor limiting productivity. Ironically, despite a modern corporate culture that hyper-emphasizes metrics, meetings, one of the most time intensive activities in the workplace, are rarely measured. Finally, Ron pointed out that meeting logistics are broken. The standard practice for workers in most organizations is to cobble together a collection of software tools to manage meeting logistics. Dropbox to store documents. Zoom to host the discussion. Email to coordinate schedules and remind participants. Google Docs to monitor the agenda. Toggling between all of these tools requires a high cognitive load — leaving less mental capacity for work that truly matters. After outlining these problems, Ron then demonstrated how Bizly solves them.

Bizly’s playbooks make planning productive meetings easy. The playbooks, which Bizly calls each of its well-designed agenda templates, help hosts manage time, structure the overall discussion, and create an atmosphere conducive to insights. Bizly’s playbooks cover several parts of the org and touch on team trust, user testing, product launches, diversity and inclusion training, and other topics critical to success in today’s business environment. Although perhaps not as effective as attending training sessions, these templates help novice meeting hosts — which most of us are — quickly learn and apply the skills necessary to make gatherings more productive and engaging.

One of the hottest features that Bizly is rolling out soon is asynchronous meetings. Bizly provides a dedicated workspace for every meeting which combines the meeting agenda, pertinent documents, group chat, as well as video and audio feeds. Bizly provides a deep collaboration workspace that allows for participants to contribute to a focused topic at whichever time works best for them without suffering from scheduling pain and video call burnout. Not only does this asynchronous setup solve the logistical pains around scheduling but it also instantly makes meeting content searchable and indexable for the organization. One of the core assumptions around meetings is that everyone has to be present at the same time, but by turning this assumption on its head, Bizly makes meetings less painful and more flexible.

Bringing quantitative rigor to meetings are Bizly’s dashboards for meeting attendance and engagement. For hosts seeking to deeply understand how well things went, Bizly features surveys with high response rates that are easy to craft and track. Meetings, especially cross functional ones, are some of the most impactful hours in a person’s workday because meetings are where information is shared and where major decisions are made. In essence, since one can only move what can be measured, Bizly’s tools empower hosts to move the minutes that matter most.

Of course, Bizly is more than just a place for managing meetings between people; it’s a platform where software itself meets collaboratively as well. Before Bizly, content management for meetings was broken. Hosts and attendees toggled between Zoom, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Google Sheets, email clients, and a host of other software to organize, attend, annotate, and store records for meetings. Bizly’s product strategy emphasizes integrations with leading software platforms. The result: Bizly clients have a one stop shop to store all of their materials related to their meetings: invites, attendance, notes, presentations, messages, and more.

With the exception of messaging and email apps, most software for the enterprise focuses on a particular type of user. Gusto is for HR professionals. GitHub is for developers. Invision is for designers. These products help their users do specific types of jobs really well. Bizly is unique because it’s one of the rare pieces of productivity software that everyone in a company can use regardless of job function. Everyone in a company, no matter the job function, attends meetings and everyone does work to prepare for meetings: the executive assistant who schedules the meeting, the analyst who prepares the presentation, the executive who edits meeting documents and rehearses. The potential viral effects are massive: anyone within the org can use Bizly, but so can people outside of the org, since, like Zoom, Bizly is incorporating features that allow anyone to collaborate on and attend a meeting via a single link. We also believe that Bizly benefits from strong network effects since, as more users within and between organizations start using Bizly, each user can interact with a larger set of colleagues to plan and run meetings efficiently.

Teams at Anthem, McDonalds, Merck, Boston Scientific and other leading companies have already changed how they do business through Bizly. They love how Bizly has, seemingly overnight, had an impact on company culture via the improvements it brings to meeting operations. Bizly is just getting started and we’re excited to partner with them as they continue to build products that reshape the future of work.

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