It’s possible that you are an incredibly organized person who remembers everything important from your meetings, and you’re part of an incredibly organized team where every post-meeting task is communicated clearly. But … maybe not. Maybe stuff slips through the cracks. That’s where Retrace, an app that just launched at Disrupt NY’s Startup Battlefield, comes in.
Co-founder and CEO Austin Marusco told me that Retrace is “the best way to remember and organize everything about the meetings you have.” It’s an iPhone app that integrates with your Google Calendar or Calendars, creating a shared workspace around each meeting where participants can share notes, photos and tasks. It also displays contact information and profiles (you can pull in data from LinkedIn and Facebook) for everyone in the meeting.
A number of smart calendar apps also aggregate information about meetings, but they’re mostly aimed at helping you get prepared for or get to the meeting on time. Retrace, on the other hand, is more about what comes after the meeting (though preparation is part of the app too). ”These [smart calendar] apps make you more punctual,” Marusco said. “We help you do your job better.”
For example, during my interview with Marusco and his co-founder/CTO Kenan Pulak, they created a task for later — sharing their screenshots of Retrace with me.
During their on-stage presentation, Marusco and Pulak walked through the entire meeting process and showed how Retrace can help. Beforehand, users can set up meetings, invite others, view profiles, and save the location to find directions later on. During the meeting, or right afterwards, someone could create a meeting summary and post follow-up tasks in the App. People to review those notes whenever they want, including their preparation for the follow-up meeting.
To a large extent, Retrace is aimed at replacing the notes that people take during meetings and the follow-up emails that they send afterwards. That’s a system I’ve become quite used to, and one that more or less works. Marusco pointed out, however, that the notes you take are often only useful to yourself, and that email inboxes are a pretty cluttered place for the assignments, reminders, and additional material that is sent afterwards.
Oh, and if you’re meeting with people who aren’t already Retrace users, the app should still be useful because you can store information for yourself, or share the content in the app with other people via email.
The company has raised $100,000 from CrunchFund, Archimedes Labs, and MkII Ventures. (CrunchFund was founded by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, while Archimedes Labs’ Chief Product Officer Keith Teare was Arrington’s co-founder at TC.)
I was a little surprised to see Marusco and Pulak, who only recently graduated from Virginia Tech, working on this type of problem. It seems like this idea would come more naturally from an experienced sales type. And while they do expect salespeople (along with anyone else who has a lot of meetings) to be early adopters, they also argued that, as relative newcomers to the business world, they’re in a better position to recognize how clunky the current processes are.
This is the pair’s second trip to Disrupt, having participated in the Startup Alley last year with their previous company, Roundpop. Marusco said that he and Pulak didn’t go to bars for a year beforehand in order to save the money to attend.
As for Retrace, they’ve been working on it since June. Pulak said it was initially more of a contact-sharing product, but they decided that meetings were a bigger opportunity. And naturally, they’re heavy users of the app themselves — Marusco said that a few minutes after each meeting, the app reminds him to upload notes, and that he’s also making heavy use of the ability to create tasks.
Retrace is launching today in a limited beta that you can sign-up for on the Retrace website. For now, it’s limited to an iPhone app, a decision that Marusco justified by arguing that fewer and fewer people are bringing their laptops to meetings. That said, the company does plan to launch eventually on other platforms, including the desktop web. It also plans to integrate with Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive for document-sharing.
The business plan is to keep the basic app free, but to charge for premium features like profile customization and integration with other services like Salesforce.
Q&A With Judges
Nicole Glaros: It sounds like you’re making this for someone who’s super-disorganized. How are you going to convince them to change their behavior?
Marusco: A lot of enterprise tools are terrible, whereas Retrace “spent a ton of time making sure that every interaction we do is as seamless as possible” — for example the automatic syncing with Google Calendar.
Matt Brezina: Have you guys done enough customer development to figure out who the target user for whom you’re filling a real need?
Naval Ravikant: Yes, you need to dive into a vertical case. “I don’t think the concept of meetings actually exists.” Meetings are too nebulous: “I can’t think of single app or device that exists around the word ‘meeting.’”
Marusco: Agreed, but there is already specific interest from VCs and salespeople.
Glaros: We should be able to record the meeting and Retrace transcribes the notes.
Ravikant: Yes, this should be more passive. “The only work you should make me do is invite people.”
Glaros: What about search?
Marusco: We have it.