It seems that everyone agrees that meetings are a time suck. There have been many attempts to use technology to make it easier to organize and run them, but Voicera, a Bay area startup, is attacking the problem from a different angle. It wants to make it simpler to record meetings and pull out action items automatically using artificial intelligence. Today, it announced a $20 million Series A from a mix of venture capital firms and big-time enterprise investors.
For starters on the venture capital side, the round was led by e.ventures with participation from Battery Ventures, GGV Capital and Greycroft. The big enterprise investors included Cisco Investments, GV (the investment firm affiliated with Google), Microsoft, Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures. Today's investment brings the total raised to over $25 million.
While some companies like Zoom, BlueJeans and GoToMeeting want to help run the meeting and others like Cisco's Voice Control Assistant want to help you control the nuts and bolts of the meeting using your voice, Voicera wants to concentrate on the meeting transcription side of the equation.
"The whole idea [behind the company] is to focus on conversation and not be distracted by the act of taking notes," company CEO and founder Omar Tawakol told TechCrunch.
The company's product is called Eva, an AI-fueled automated note-taking assistant. Eva's job is to record the meeting, create a transcription, identify the important stuff and send out an email with the highlights to all meeting participants. That's the ideal anyway.
For now, the transcription while decent, still requires some human oversight to correct errors. While you can specifically tell Eva to record an action item, the goal is to tune the artificial intelligence and machine learning so that the bot can eventually handle this task with as little human intervention as possible.
The product has a number of integrations including Salesforce, Slack and email. You can share the transcript or action items with these other tools when appropriate. For instance, if you record a meeting with a new customer, the integration allows you to automatically create or update a Salesforce CRM record with data from the meeting.
For now, they are trying err on the side of privacy and are giving meeting participants full control over the transcript with the ability to delete it if they wish. Tawakol says they recognize this is a social experiment and people need to get used to the idea of being recorded and putting the note taking into the hands of technology.
The product is free for now while it's still in Beta, but in the near future it will move to a subscription model. There will still be a free version, but also various tiers for individuals, teams and enterprises. The pricing is still being worked out, but Tawakol wants to keep it to around $10 a month for an individual user.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.