“I completely forgot that we were supposed to meet today, I’m sorry.”
“I swore that I put it on the calendar.”
“My dog got sick.”
“My dog ate my calendar. Then he got sick.”
“Ugh. I blew it.”
These are excuses that
I you may have given recently for missing meetings with people, either for work or for personal outings. Even though every major tech company in the world, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, has tried to tackle scheduling, the reality is that the options suck. Even upstarts like Sunrise, while beautifully designed, aren’t getting the job done. If we can’t afford a real personal assistant to bug us about every step we’re supposed to take on a given day, we’re not doing a great job of keeping our schedules straight.
Even the most regimented planners aren’t thrilled with the options out there, with one close friend telling me that the “color coding” on Google Calendar is the only thing keeping her on time and employed. So what’s the fix if we can’t afford our own personal assistant and tech is letting us down?
How about a hybrid of both?
That’s what Aviary co-founder Michael Galpert has been working on in stealth mode under the company title of “Superhuman.io” for the past year or so. Not much has been known about what Galpert was up to, other than what was found on his trademark application for Superhuman:
downloadable software that allows users to obtain personal assistant and concierge services comprising making requested personal arrangements and reservations, running errands and providing customer specific information to meet individual needs, including assistance provided on demand via email
It sounds a bit like Exec, TaskRabbit and Fancy Hands, but in hindsight, it sounds exactly like SuperCalendar to me, which is Galpert’s first Superhuman product. So far, Galpert tells me that Superhuman has raised some seed capital to get things running, and the rollout will be gradual, with new invites going out every Monday. The service will cost you $89 a month, with unlimited scheduling.
The best part about how Galpert has gone about doing research for SuperCalendar is that he used Superhuman to collect information and feedback about what the product would end up offering, when you signed up for an invite. Even though you had no idea what you were signing up for. Genius.
I spoke with Galpert about the progress that he’s made on SuperCalendar, and asked him what he felt was missing with current offerings:
TechCrunch: What was it about calendaring that just wasn’t working for people?
Galpert: For busy people, managing their calendars was close to a full time job. The biggest annoyance that comes up when scheduling meetings is finding a time to meet, picking a location that is convenient for both parties etc. Not to mention you end up having to always be on high alert with your inbox and make sure to enter all the necessary info to keep your calendar up to date. We basically built a solution that makes it easier than doing it yourself.
We have some customers who choose to schedule meetings on their own and just fwd the email to their SuperCalendar assistant to add to their calendar. When something comes up and they need to cancel all their meetings that day. Customers just send over a note that says something like “reschedule all my meetings today for some time next week” and we take care of the hassle of rescheduling so they dont have to.
TechCrunch: Were your own experiences with scheduling things the reason for starting Superhuman?
Galpert: The reason we started Superhuman was to remove the bullshit in peoples lives that prevent them from being present and living their life. If you ask anyone that has a full time personal assistant they say they couldnt do what they do if it wasnt for their personal assistant. Richard Branson even mentioned this recently. The biggest distraction to your workflow is coordination and scheduling so we are starting with that.
Galpert: We dont think the solution is to give people a new interface to deal with. Ala tungle.me which was a service I loved but anyone that I asked to coordinate using it loathed. Our approach is not to create a service that takes more time to learn than to complete the task at hand. We make it simple and easy to share your preferences with your Super Assistant (a team of scheduling assistants) via email.
TechCrunch: Are you worried about scaling the service, since it relies on real people in the background?
Galpert: Over the next couple of weeks we will be rolling out invitations to the service to make sure that our system can handle the demand. We are constantly building out automated processes that will allow us to scale without needing to rely on real people in the background. That’s how we can offer the service for way cheaper than hiring someone full time in the first place.
For those of you who don’t have more than a few things going on every week that you have to be on time for, you might not get value out of paying $89 a month. This is aimed at professionals that either don’t want to handle their own scheduling, or just plain stink at it.
If you’d like to get priority access to SuperCalendar, you can use this code: SuperTC. Be sure to sign up now so that you can get your invite next Monday.
Unnecessary Disclosure: I'll be moving on to Yahoo! soon]