A lot has changed in business over the past thirty years—but one element that continues eternal is meetings. These days we might have them over Zoom, but they’re still the same as ever.
Our guest on the latest UpTech Report isn’t trying to change meetings, but he is hoping to make them easier to navigate and process. And he’s doing it with artificial intelligence.
Krish Ramineni is the co-founder and CEO of Fireflies.ai—a company that offers an artificial personal assistant that can take notes on your meetings, giving you transcripts and action items—and even attend them without you.
More information: https://fireflies.ai/
Krish Ramineni is one of the youngest Product Managers hired at Microsoft. Lead projects around customer voice analytics and growth engineering while at Microsoft. Graduated from University of Pennsylvania. Guest lectured at Stanford on Deep Learning & ML. Early-stage startup advisor
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!
Krish Ramineni 0:00
People are realizing they can get deals done, they can get work done and accomplish really, really big things through video conferencing, they don’t have to sit in the same room and meet in the same room. I know it’s great to be able to go meet your customers in person, especially if you’re like a large enterprise, but people are getting things done.
Alexander Ferguson 0:25
A lot has changed in business over the past 30 years. But one element that continues eternal is meetings. These days, we might have them over zoom, but they’re still the same as ever. Our guests on the latest UpTech Report isn’t trying to change meetings. But he is hoping to make them easier to navigate and process. And he’s doing it with artificial intelligence. Krish Ramineni, the co founder and CEO of Fireflies. It’s a company that offers an artificial personal assistant that can take notes on your meetings, giving you transcripts and action items, and even attend them without you. Krish, I’m excited to be with you and hear more about fireflies and this concept of what you’re looking to serve this begin. Can you describe your company and the concept of it in five seconds really brief? What is it?
Krish Ramineni 1:12
Fireflies is a AI meeting assistant that joins your meetings and takes notes.
Alexander Ferguson 1:17
Yeah, suppose that AI assistant joins your meetings and takes your notes. So this concept what what began the even before it was created? What did you see? What was the problem that you’re like, I need to solve this?
Krish Ramineni 1:31
Great question. So with the areas that we were serving, we noticed that you know whether we were working in tech or any other industry meetings is where work gets done. And the common problem is people spend so much of their working time in meetings. And those things add up over time, right, the challenges with staying organized, getting decisions driven to completion. And so we always felt like there needed to be better documentation and accountability for meetings. And we wanted to build away where people could actually get work done during meetings and not have to worry about taking notes or having things written down and then having to follow up over email. And with all that said, we said okay, let’s build an assistant like Jarvis like that you see an Iron Man or, you know, like Siri that can join your meetings, transcribe everything, extract out action items and notes from that meeting and help you stay organized. So that was a really the root problem that we were tapping into.
Alexander Ferguson 2:35
Why fireflies the name?
Krish Ramineni 2:38
That’s a great, that’s an that’s a tough question to answer usually. So fireflies actually was the code name we use for a bunch of other projects in the past and my co founder and I, we met while my co founder, Sam was at MIT, we were working on a host of different projects, the initial project we worked on was related to drones and delivery. And so we want to do drone delivery at night. And at night, when the drones go out and light up. It looks like fireflies. So that’s where the name came from. And we’ve always, you know, stuck with that name. But you know, we were kind of lazy to change the name, to be honest. But as we’ve gone about and started building out our company, people have come up with great origin stories that we didn’t even think about. So they said, Oh, I totally get why you’ve named your company, fireflies because you’re lighting up conversations that were previously like, something you couldn’t see inside an organization. And they’re like, Wow, well, we’ll run with that story. But
Alexander Ferguson 3:34
we’ll take it. A little love the honesty, but also the ability to pivot and use it, keep using it. It’s a cool day. So now in today’s world, where I working from home is the standard. If anything, this has accelerated, I imagined the adoption of more video meetings and content, which allows your platform to help even more can. Can you weigh in on that? What’s your thoughts?
Krish Ramineni 4:04
So there’s definitely a few big trends happening right now, we were always big believers in remote work. Our whole company is a globally distributed team across five countries in eight different locations. So for us remote work was how we started the company. Even from day one, we were remote, even though we moved our entire team to San Francisco in the beginning, we decided to like not go to the office and just start working from home because it was more convenient. And so I totally agree that with COVID. This was now become a force situation upon both big companies as well as small startups. And for us, the shift was a little bit more gradual because this is what we’ve been already doing. So I’m a big believer in that trend, that remote work, being able to work from anywhere being able to afford a living in different places other than just Silicon Valley is going to be a very big, big trend that’s going to happen right and so That was something that’s helped catalyze some of the growth we’ve seen with fireflies in the last couple months. The other thing is that people are realizing they can get deals done, they can get work done and accomplish really, really big things through video conferencing, they don’t have to sit in the same room and meet in the same room. I know, it’s great to be able to go meet your customers in person, especially if you’re like a large enterprise, but people are getting things done. In fact, m&a acquisitions are happening over video conferencing, student graduation, like is happening over video conferencing. So I think the world is has finally adopted that. And it has accepted it on a much larger scale. Due to you know, the recent, you know, changing events, the thing where fireflies becomes really interesting for folks is now they’re having too many meetings. And what became like, Oh, this is a cool tool. I’ll try out too. I need to stay organized. Like I’m having way too many meetings. I don’t remember what I said on like a zoom call, you know, two hours ago, because I’m having back to back to back meetings. Right? And so with that in mind, people are saying, Okay, I need something that can just help me organize and capture all my meetings in one place. I really need like a Google search for my meetings. And that’s where Firefly’s is really valuable for people where it’s able to capture everything automatically, it’s able to join the meeting. And then afterwards, people can go back and search across any single meeting that they’ve ever had. And because of the rise of meetings in the last couple months, it’s now become, oh, I need to have this tool versus Hey, this is something cool. I’m an early adopter, let me try it. But instead now it’s like, wow, our entire organization should have it. And people are coming up with really, really creative ways to use it. For example, I might have three or four simultaneous back to back meetings that I’m not able to attend. So what I do is I sent fireflies to attend those meetings, and I listened to the recaps afterwards, or review the recaps and transcripts afterwards. So and that was an idea that was brought to us by a customer who said, Hey, I have like several back to back meetings. And I’m using fireflies, to have it attend the meeting on my behalf. So it’s just really cool to see as well.
Alexander Ferguson 7:07
This concept of meetings back to back that’s like everyone’s, like exhausted with Zoom calls and things in today’s world. But it’s easy to forget everything. So I imagined I like your terminology Google search through it. Do you have let’s talk about other options out there, your competitors, and why? What is the same what’s different of what you’re offering?
Krish Ramineni 7:32
I think the world is heading towards a point in time where voice and meeting transcription and these things are becoming heavily embraced the technology where it was five years ago, you needed maybe 10 PhDs to do what we’re doing today. Now the technology is getting democratize AI is getting better speeches getting more accurate, right. And so all these factors are making this become more mainstream, to say the least. And I think we’re in this really great inflection point where if you were to have a meeting transcribed in the past, using, you know, human transcription services, they would charge you $1 per minute. So you would quickly run about $60 for a one hour podcast or one hour meeting, right. And now where the technology is really accurate, it’s almost on par with humans. And, you know, we’ll get to a point where it’ll be as good as humans. And so this is a really, really interesting wave of adoption that’s happening with the technology, the belief that we have is that what fireflies can help with is through meetings, and to by integrating with all the different systems that are out there. So the ability to capture meeting and transcribe the meeting is really the starting point. That’s the hook, why they come, but they’re really staying for the workflows and stuff. So I can just connect fireflies to my calendar, it’ll detect when I’m having a Zoom meeting or a Microsoft Teams meeting, we integrate with, you know, all the major web conferencing providers out there, including Google meet teams, GoTo Meeting, Uber conference, blue jeans, all these systems table to connect in and table to join the meeting. And it’s automatic for me. So I can, you know, sit back and not have to worry about it. So the ease of being able to integrate with all these web conferencing and video conferencing systems is really, really vital for users. And then being able to bring all these meetings back into the systems where you already work. So if I’m working on Slack, or if I’m working in Salesforce or any of these other tools, after my meeting, I can have the transcripts, the notes, the audio and all these other things automatically populated in there for me. And so we are essentially using voice to automate workflows in a really interesting way. And so that’s where, you know, customers come to us and say, Wow, this is really great. It’s two clicks. It’s already set up. I’m getting value out of
Alexander Ferguson 9:52
it. For you your business model. What does it look like? It’s the SAS model per user basis. Tell me a bit more about that.
Krish Ramineni 9:59
Yeah. So our Business definitely is focused on getting people to have meetings and not have to worry about how many meetings they’re having. So it is a SAS per seat model. And you can be an individual user that’s using it, you can invite your team, and they can have their meetings started, captured and transcribed as well. People are able to come in and sign up and start using it with our free tier. And then if you want the transcription and meeting search, and some of these more advanced capabilities like integrations, you’re able to get access to that on the Pro and Business tier, we price it, you know, like any other collaboration tools, so that you know, you don’t have to worry about adding seats, and like having the bill rack up so that it’s like affordable. I think there are enterprise voice technology systems out there that are going to be charging hundreds of dollars per seat, maybe 100 $200 per seat. And what we’re able to do is give you that same value for 1015 bucks per user. And it’s also really exciting to see people adopt that and figure out the value, we have customers coming back to us and telling us if I had to use the same stuff, fireflies is providing me a couple years ago, this would have cost me like 1000s of dollars per month. Right? So the affordability and ability to basically bring bring it to the masses.
Alexander Ferguson 11:21
So for you where you are now what’s what’s the roadmap in the near term and the long term? So the next year, what’s coming up on the road? And what are you planning for the long term.
Krish Ramineni 11:31
So right now our goal is to be able to we’re still a small company. So we’re trying to scale up and support the needs of users, you know, volume of users and meetings has hit us relatively quickly. And just keeping up making the system, you know, and experience more easier over time and just keep building a better product, a better product, and really tuning into customers. I think the value is there, we figured out the things that customers really love us about love about us. And then we have also found things where we can definitely improve and increase that overall experience for folks. For me, what I look at is how can we help capture meetings and then help capture the voice of your organization, your customers, your employees and everything in the most easy way possible. And so we’re doing things that are able to integrate with all these different systems. So one, you’re seeing his web conferencing today, but you know, we’re working with systems and integrating on a more native level, we rolled out our new Zapier integration where you know, Xavier has connected to over hundreds and hundreds of different voice and telephony systems. And with fireflies now you can basically get all those meetings and recordings and voicemails and everything in those different systems transcribed with a click of a button. You know, if you have like a Google Drive folder with tons of past recordings or past webinars, you can run them through Zapier and fireflies and have been transcribed. So our vision is to build this 360 degree voice router, where it’s able to connect to all these different systems of voice and communication and be able to capture it for you. And so going back to our business model and the vision I see for fireflies, it’s very, you know, I I’m a huge fan of Zapier and I’m a huge fan of workflows. And I’m sure like any person that’s working on a lot of different things and has a small team needs to use automated workflows like Zapier and segment all incredible tools out there. Clearbit. Again, another great workflow tool. So we’re seeing people get really creative with fireflies, people are coming to us and telling us, Hey, this is how I integrate Calendly with fireflies so that I can have my meetings work. There’s another AI meeting scheduler called x.ai. And they get that system to talk to Fred or AI system and schedule the meeting and have it transcribed. So it’s really cool to see users, right, these guys aren’t developers. But these guys are users that are coming in and saying these are all the great ways I can use fireflies. And I think that’s a testament to also this bigger movement of no code that’s happening. People love using tools like notion airtable, which are essentially like databases that you can build workflows and applications on top of and so they’re bringing those, you know, same. It’s that same DNA to be able to build tools on top of fireflies or build workflows on top of fireflies. And we totally want to encourage that we want people to build their own workflows using Zapier or our API and help them you know, create like a really, really enriched experience and plug fireflies into whatever they’re doing.
Alexander Ferguson 14:36
Be sure to check out part two of my conversation with Krish in which he talks about what it was like to come out to San Francisco to start a business with no experience and no connections.