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Why We Invested in Marlo

David Beisel
November 5, 2019 · 2  min.

Meetings can suck.

I know that you’ve been there.  Stuck in a meeting which wasn’t productive.  Not for you, and not for many (or even all) of the participants.

Sometimes it’s a standing small-group meeting, an obligatory gathering that’s on everyone’s work calendar merely intended for reporting and not actually deciding.  Sometimes it’s an all-hands-on-deck meeting requiring a large group to attend, but what’s going to be discussed isn’t relevant for everyone.

The various scenario permutations go on and on, but the consistent theme runs throughout that people don’t like to be stuck in meetings.  Meetings take people away from doing real work.

Earlier this year, my partners and I at NextView invested in Boston-based Marlo to help address this work meeting suckiness.

Starting with the notion that you can’t fix what you don’t measure, Marlo captures anonymous micro-feedback after each meeting to calculate a Net Meeting Score.  The service trends these Net Meeting Scores over time, benchmarking meetings to other people’s, teams’, and companies’, while also providing actionable recommendations that can result in real change & improvement in productivity.

Marlo accomplishes this simple but powerful set of tasks by plugging into teammates’ Google calendars & Slack to know when you’re in a meeting and who you’re meeting with, then solicit tangible feedback.

Our Everyday Economy thematic approach at NextView Ventures has led us look at challenges that large groups of people face every day in their work environment.  Research conducted by behavioral and organizational psychologists cited in the Harvard Business Review shows 71% of attendees say meetings are unproductive and inefficient; 62% say meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together; and 25% of meetings are spent discussing irrelevant issues.

And for nearly all professionals working in office settings have first-hand faced the pain, boredom, and drudgery of pointless, inefficient, and unproductive meetings.

Marlo founders Ankith Harathi and John Keck decided to found Marlo in 2018, after meeting as students in the Harvard MS/MBA Program, where they are completing both an MBA and a Masters in Computer Science.  Given our firm’s close ties with the school, I had the privilege to meet them informally for coffee last year, and I was immediately impressed with their relentless focus on a pressing problem and their clear ability to make tangible progress quickly.

It’s no surprise to me that fast-forward a few months later, along with some seed capital from NextView and our syndicate partner Underscore to accelerate their efforts, the team has grown the service to reach dozens of companies and employees of all stripes, as featured in today’s Scott Kirsner Globe article.

And this is just the beginning… Marlo is on a mission to cure terrible meetings, including yours.  Try the service for yourself at GetMarlo.com.

 

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Author
David Beisel
Partner

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.