At Solid, we’re working on improving the experience of the meeting. There’s a lot to be done, so we narrowed down our approach, choosing to focus on the preparation, note taking and following up phases of the meeting. But “the meeting” is a very large topic. Along our journey, we often come across other startups addressing other pain points in meetings. Today, we’re introducing Better Meetings: a series of interviews showcasing the startups and entrepreneurs we encountered.
As a first in our Better Meetings series, we’re featuring Charlie: an app that gives you information and context about the people you’re meeting with. I interviewed Aaron Frazin, co-founder and CEO of Charlie.
Aaron has always been an entrepreneur, and built his first company, a small web design and animation shop, when he was still a teenager. After spending some time working on the global strategy at Prezi, he founded Charlie with his cofounder and CTO, Rob Volk.
Thibaut Davoult (Solid): Hi Aaron. Can you introduce Charlie to our readers? How did the idea originate and who’s behind it?
Aaron Frazin (Charlie): I’ve always known that the more prepared you are, the more you stand out from the pack. But damn, did I hate actually doing the prepwork. Who actually likes spending half their day on Google and Linkedin when you could be out there, meeting people? Eventually, I got sick of it and decided to create Charlie to be my pre-call assistant so I could spend my day on the most important activities. That’s how the company was born, in 2012.
Since then, Charlie has been tasked to research over 4 million meetings for leaders around the world. The team has grown and we now employ 7 people full-time.
TD: So you built Charlie to answer a problem you had experienced. Why do you think Charlie is useful for others as well?
AF: Entrepreneurs often find their calendar bursting to the seams with meeting after meeting. It would take the average person 57 Google searches to replicate our research. Charlie emails you first thing in the morning with 1-page summaries on every person you are meeting with.
TD: Can you tell us a bit more about what Charlie does?
AF: Before each meeting in your calendar, Charlie sends you key points on everyone you are meeting with. Charlie summarizes any shared passions you have, their hobbies and professional background, breaking company news, and more. All this is found by combing through major social networks, hundreds of thousands of news sources, blogs, tweets, company financials, and company websites to deliver you a pre-meeting summary.
TD: Do you have a cool story to share with our readers to close this interview?
AF: A couple months back a startup CEO emailed me that he had hired a whole team of summer interns to create executive briefs for his sales reps, but now he has Charlie replace that process entirely. His sales reps are more prepared and his interns don’t need to spend a whole summer glued to their screen researching people.
Want to try out Charlie? Here’s a VIP access special for you, the readers of the Solid blog.