Because of the pandemic, we’re all a lot more familiar with remote working than we used to be, whether we like it or not. But the remote tools of the pre-pandemic era — Slack, Trello, Zoom, Asana, etc., etc., etc. — are, if we admit it to ourselves, barely scratching the surface of what we really need to be productive. Luckily a new era of remote-working tools is fast emerging. As I recently tweeted, we need to think far more in asynchronous terms if remote working is to be productive (and healthy!), long term.
Older tools can offer asynchronous collaboration, but a new wave of tools is coming. Loom, for instance, is one-way video for “show and tell”. It’s raised $203.6 million — however, it has a drawback: it doesn’t have many collaboration features.
Now a new European startup hopes to address this.
Claap, an asynchronous meeting platform with video and collaboration, thinks it might have part of the solution, and a private beta launch is planned for this month.
It’s now raised $3 million in pre-seed funding from LocalGlobe, Headline, E.Ventures, Kima Ventures, and angels including Front co-founder Mathilde Collin, Oyster co-founder Tony Jamous, Nest and GoCardless founder Matt Robinson and Automattic’s head of product Aadil Mamujee. It also includes a group of 30 angels such as Ian Hogarth (Songkick), Olivier Godement (Stripe), Roxanne Varza (Station F), Chris Herd (FirstBase), Xavier Niel (Kima) and Shane Mac (investor in Remote).
We all now know that what were previously small catch-ups are now 30-minute Zoom calls, which are pointless. “Asynchronous meetings” could be the way forward. In fact, I actually want to try out Claap myself. Zoom ‘meetings’ need to be killed. Now.
Claap says its product allows employees to record a short video update on a topic, allow others to comment on the relevant part, and set a due date for team members to respond. Colleagues then view the video and respond in their own time. Claap bills itself as the remote working equivalent of the “quick hallway catch-up”. It integrates with other workplace tools such as Trello or Jira so that when a decision is made on a project, it’s recorded for everyone on the team to see and refer back to. A subscription model is planned which will have a sliding scale depending on team size.
Because it doesn’t require real-time interaction, you don’t need to find a time that suits everyone for a meeting, so in fact the “meeting” sort of disappears. Instead, the platform creates a space for feedback and iterations.
Founders Robin Bonduelle and Pierre Touzeau looked at solutions already adopted by companies such as Automattic, and GitLab. Touzeau was previously at 360Learning, which employed a strict limiting policy for meetings. Bonduelle has 10 years of product management experience, working at various startups and scaleups including Ogury where he was VP of Product, and Rocket Internet. He developed asynchronous communication habits while managing 50 people across four countries and time zones. Touzeau has worked for businesses including L’Oréal and 360Learning, where he was most recently VP of Marketing.
However, asynchronous communication is not always perfect. As we know, emails and Slack messages can go unread. Video MIGHT be the solution.
Robin Bonduelle, co-founder and CEO at Claap, said: “After a year of working remotely, people are realizing the benefits of not working in an office but at the same time grappling with one of its worst consequences: back-to-back video meetings. A query that in the office would take five minutes to solve now takes at least 30, leaving everyone more exhausted in the process. Claap is designed to solve this issue, allowing colleagues the tools to keep them engaged and connected but without taking up all their time. It’s a new meeting format that allows people to make quick decisions.”
Touzeau said: “Meetings are a necessary part of working, but it doesn’t need to be your entire day. Asynchronous meetings are the key to freeing up our calendars but making sure work still gets done and deadlines are met. We’re excited by the potential Claap has to empower people to work from anywhere.”
George Henry, general partner at LocalGlobe, said: “We were impressed with Robin and Pierre’s vision and the potential for Claap to allow employees to connect on a project when they need to and facilitate the ability to work from anywhere.”
Jonathan Userovici, partner at Headline, said: “Zoom may have been the go-to enterprise app over the past 12 months but for the thousands of businesses that are now going to be remote-first, video conferencing alone won’t be enough to keep teams connected and get work done. Claap is the challenger tool to end video-calling fatigue.”