Nobody really likes work meetings. Pete Christothoulou thinks they’re such a problem that he’s launching a new startup to rethink the whole endeavor.
Christothoulou, the former founder and CEO of conversational analytics company Marchex, is now founder and CEO of Xembly, a startup that uses artificial intelligence software to improve meeting productivity. The Madrona Venture Labs company is launching in beta this week.
“Meetings aren’t just broken — they’re dangerous,” Christothoulou said in a news release promoting a survey of workers who say they’re burned out on meetings. “Unproductive meetings are not only a serious performance drag, they are employee engagement and mental health daggers. Show me a company who hasn’t improved their meeting culture and I’ll show you employees who are likely job hunting.”
Christothoulou’s hope is that as people return to a “post-pandemic normal,” they’ll reset their approach to the workday, and turn to technology such as Xembly’s to optimize productivity and happiness.
Xembly says its productivity software helps automate meeting tasks, decisions and actions, and surfaces data-driven insights that can improve meetings. For example, it gives users feedback on how to shorten meetings that don’t need to be so long.
Companies accelerated adoption of digital collaboration tools such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams due to the pandemic and shift to remote work. Xembly is built for both in-person and online meetings.
After leaving Marchex in October 2016, Christothoulou was founder and CEO of the lifestyle content platform Inspo Network alongside his wife Heather Christothoulou. The startup raised more than $8 million before shutting down in early 2020.
As for Xembly’s survey of 1,000 workers’ views on meetings, most believe the biggest problem with meetings is when they’re unnecessary to begin with. How long they last is the next biggest concern.
A majority said the best way to improve meetings is to have a clear agenda and goal.
So what would workers be doing if not sitting in unproductive meetings? 55% said they would get more work done, and 37% said they would learn or develop work-related skills and knowledge.
Xembly is currently running a waitlist for access to its private beta.