Making Meetings Amazing | Darin Brown from Docket

Very few people take delight at a calendar filled with meetings. We tend to feel they’re unproductive, dull, and a waste of time. But Darin Brown, the founder and CEO of Docket, wants to focus on the good meetings. “You debated the topics, came up with some decisions, felt like a team in alignment, and you’re charged for action,” he says.

His mission is to make all meetings the good meetings. His solution is an online collaborative workspace for creating agendas, documenting decisions, and tracking action items.

On this edition of UpTech Report, Darin discusses how his solution strives to find the right synthesis between building a tool and shaping human behavior, and he offers some advice on how to have better meetings that anyone can use.

More information:

Docket was co-founded in January 2019 by CEO Darin Brown. Prior to co-founding Docket, Darin served as the CTO of Angie’s List and Vice President at Salesforce and ExactTarget.

As in his previous roles, Darin laid the foundation, building an amazing, experienced team and board of directors. Team members bring a variety of experience including co-founder, CTO, marketing technology, mergers and acquisitions, marketing, compliance, customer management, and product-led growth. From early-stage startup, growth-level, and enterprise experience, our leadership knows what it takes to start companies from the ground up and nurture them to success.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Darin Brown 0:00
Talking about meetings. You get almost a visceral reaction often, right? So unless you’re in sales, you know, you look at your calendar, do you see a day full of meetings, most people will groan because they think, Oh, this is so unproductive, this is just such a waste of my time.

Alexander Ferguson 0:21
Welcome, everyone to UpTech Report, our Applied Tech series. This series is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at I’m excited for our guest today. Darin Brown, who’s based in Indianapolis, Indiana, CEO and co founder of Docket welcome Darren,

Darin Brown 0:38

Alexander Ferguson 0:40
I’m excited to be able to dig in, you stay on your website, the product that you have is a meeting focused platform, perfect for, as you say, making the most out of every meeting. And really you’re targeting managers, entrepreneurs, other business leaders that well, they do a lot of meetings. So this might be a tool they want. They want to check out on your site, you shared meetings manner, but we’re doing them wrong. Can you dive into like, what was the problem that you initially set out to solve? And how has that changed over time?

Darin Brown 1:09
Yeah, so I mean, if you think about it, this, this problem was almost universal. You know, one of the great things about this, as I thought about going into building a startup and what problem I wanted to tackle. And what really resonated with this, if you talked about meetings, you get almost a visceral reaction often, right? So unless you’re in sales, you know, you look at your calendar, you see a day full of meetings, most people will groan because they think, Oh, this is so unproductive, this is just such a waste of my time. But yet, we’ve all been in meetings, where you come out energized, right? You come out with you have a firm plan of action, you knew what you were there to accomplish. You had a good debate, you debated the topics, you came up some decisions, and you felt like a team, you know, in alignment, and you’re you’re charged for action. And so you know, dockets mission is to bridge that gap between that just groan of pain that you feel when you see your calendar versus that, that just energize excitement of the effective meeting. And that that’s where we’re at. We’re seeing a lot of early success at that. And you know, it’s a problem, it resonates. And it’s an easy problem for people to grasp.

Alexander Ferguson 2:16
Now, this has been about coming up on two years. Correct that since you since you’ve launched, I’d like to in our second part for those loves to hear more about the journey, what it’s like to build a company. Stay tuned for our discussion with there. But a little teaser here. If if you could know what you know, now, two years ago, what’s something you wish you had known? And you could tell yourself?

Darin Brown 2:40
Well, that’s an excellent question. So on the problem statement itself, it is ubiquitous. But the biggest challenge that we face is really replacing, you know, current habit in paper, right? So it is, when people that are looking to solve this problem, they find it, they love it, because it just makes having that clarity and transparency around your meeting so much easier, and in some cases automatic. But oftentimes, it is that habit that you need to build, if that is not something that you’re used to right. And so that’s the kind of the hump that we are challenged to get over. Yeah.

Alexander Ferguson 3:20
And you’re in it right now. Now. And for those extended, stay tuned for part two, to hear more about this, that journey, but really getting to the product, I think that’s a powerful statement of behavioral change. I mean, if you want something to change, you have to change the way you think about something the way you do. Let’s talk about the benefits of what you’re touting of, hey, it actually is worth the effort to make a change in the way you do meetings. What what’s the effect? What’s the outcome that some of

Darin Brown 3:47
it’s really just a it’s alignment and productivity and save just because that’s such a simple concept, right? I’m having the team aligned, makes them much more productive, you can make better decisions much faster, you’re not repeating the same conversations over and over again. So the team is not feeling frustrated, like you’re not making any progress, you’re just crystal clear about the outcome of each meeting, you’re crystal clear about the intent of each meeting and why you’re having it. And it just, you know, beyond just the efficiency and effectiveness, it actually makes people’s work life feel better, because they’re not as frustrated.

Alexander Ferguson 4:18
So then I’ll go ahead and ask the tough question, why is your tool better than just let me write it down on a piece of paper of what were the meetings are happening what I’m going to talk about, how does it help?

Darin Brown 4:30
Yeah, so the way it really helps is it brings the team together so you often if you take notes, which is a big F for a lot of people if you take notes, it’s your own personal notes and your own notepads and you kind of go away and those never see the light of day right? And maybe you took some action items down for yourself and you’re likely dead right but nobody is keeping track of those beyond yourself. Right so with Doc it you have this club collaborative experience where the entire team can take notes together can see the you know, all the interactions going on. If you note something that you think is something that’s been decided, you know, somebody else in the meeting can immediately jump in. But wait a minute, that’s not exactly what I heard. So you can short circuit the need to have yet another meeting to debate that topic while you’re in the meeting. And then the action items that you can track within docket, get propagated out through the system and through your email, and through slack and those types of things. So that the entire team is aware of all the action items for the team. And then the next meeting that you have, you know exactly where those stand.

Alexander Ferguson 5:29
Make it sounds like it’s the best use case, if you’re meeting with your internal team on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly, or monthly, and being able to run those meetings more effectively, correct.

Darin Brown 5:43
Yeah, across the server use cases. Because if you think take a step back, pretty much every meeting has three phases that has the pre meeting, work phase, the End Meeting phase, and the post meeting phase. And so our framework makes each of those phases, easy to do, and takes a lot of the work and the onus out of those, those phases. And so what we really focus on is those team meetings, the reoccurring meetings, the project meetings, and even client meetings, where you want to make sure that your conversation with the customer is polished, professional and consistent. So there is kind of a set of use cases there that are, perhaps they seem different, you know, on the initial look at them, but they all boil down to that pre and post meeting work that you need to do.

Alexander Ferguson 6:28
What about folks who are doing meetings with externally? Does this still work? Well, in that kind of situation? Or mostly internally?

Darin Brown 6:36
Yeah, no, actually, we what are the differentiators between us and some of our competitors, as we embrace that external meeting, we’re not just internally focused in team meetings, we have features and functionality built in to make having those external meetings seamless, so that for instance, if you’re having a customer meeting, a prospect meeting, your customers can engage with docking without having to create an account, you can send out agendas and recaps with your customer with your brand, versus the docket brand. Those are types of you know, some of the the just straightforward features that we enable for you to have those conversations, to get that consistency with your with your customers.

Alexander Ferguson 7:14
Your business model, it’s it’s per month per user type situation.

Darin Brown 7:18
Yeah, we call it product lead growth. So it is, you know, it’s essentially a freemium type model, you have it, there’s the free basic version, you can get in you can sign up, you can use a lot of functionality. In that version, we of course, want you to see the value in the next tier, which is the pro tier. And you start to get calls to action within the product and prompting around things like custom templates, Team templates, a lot of the real kind of collaboration experience that brings the team together are in the pro tier where you get the most value there. And it is per month per user with a discount, of course you want

Alexander Ferguson 7:53
What’s your most exciting feature that you guys released lately, and maybe make people go aha, when they see.

Darin Brown 8:01
So we have a nice overlay with zoom that is about to be expanded quite a bit. So I’ll describe what we have now. And then what we’re going to have here in the short term. So what we have now is one of the major challenges, especially now in the COVID world, but even pre COVID, right. So if you have I’m on a laptop, I’ve got my zoom window open, I’m trying to take part in the meeting. But I’ve got action items over here, I got agendas, I’ve got documents, I need to pull up, and I’m toggling between three and four different windows to bring all that up. So with docket, you can start the Zoom call from within docket, you can have the agenda and the notes and the task and everything right, they’re bringing up resources, so you don’t have to flip between windows in order to do that. That’s why it exists today. The exciting part is we are one of the early cohorts to launch what Zoom is calling zoom apps. So you’ll be able to flip the script and start zoom. And then from within zoom, pull up docket in the original window and get all the benefits of docket and zoom at the same time.

Alexander Ferguson 8:58
And that case, then it’d be supported both Mac and PC. No matter where you got it. Okay. Anything you can share more about the technology underlying how it’s just different or just even on the on the roadmap beyond including this this site from the Zoom application that you want people to know that,

Darin Brown 9:18
yeah, it’s so what we’re really focused on over the next several months to a year is really enhancing the immediate experience and get into more of a coaching type experience within the meeting. So as we’re talking, you know, they’re your phrases, I’m saying there’s phrases you’re saying there’s facial expressions, smiles, that those types of things, you can start to build in some intelligence and emotional intelligence and then analysis in order to understand how the conversations are going within a meeting, and be able to respond to those in real time and let those that are facilitating the meeting. Understand how people are feeling or thinking, you know, beyond just your writing the meeting and make sure you’re just inclusive, making sure you’re getting everything By the end of the conversation, who’s talking the most who’s not said anything, and just prompting you in a much more coachable way to facilitate a much better meeting?

Alexander Ferguson 10:09
What can you share any tips or thoughts on a closing here for any managers, entrepreneurs, business leaders when it comes to meetings? Yeah, that they should just think about, and maybe just do it differently than they thought before.

Darin Brown 10:24
So we say it’s really comes down to clarity about what the meeting is about, and why specifically, somebody’s been asked to write if you just provide that clarity. People feel much, much better and understand why they’re being asked to take part of your day, and attend a meeting. And then is transparency about what actually happened in the meeting, so that you’re all in alignment, you all understand the action items. And if you couldn’t happen to make it to that meeting, you know, that there’s consistent recaps being sent out updates being sent out to you don’t feel like you have to attend the meeting, just to know what’s going on. So it’s really around that clarity transparency concept. That’s what Docker is built for and built on.

Alexander Ferguson 11:04
Well, thank you so much, Darin, for sharing docket and the exciting things that you are bringing forth. Now everyone, stay tuned for part two of our chat here we’ll hear more about their journey and his story of how he got to where he is today. That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you subscribe to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.



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