When Jake Klamka first moved to Silicon Valley, he started taking a lot of meetings. He'd rush from one office to another, from this coffee shop to that one, and he felt continually unprepared. Sometimes it was a meeting he'd set up a week or two before, and with the blur of faces in between, he now needed a quick refresher on who he was about to meet. Since he had a smartphone, all the information was, in theory, in the palm of his hand.
"But in practice, when you're rushing, it's such a painful experience," he tells Fast Company. "You have to launch multiple apps, on that little keyboard, and if you misspell a name, you'd have to start all over. The information is there! But it's just that last step of getting it on the screen on the phone."
Klamka and a partner thus conceived Noteleaf, which first went live two weeks ago, and which is getting an update with new features today. A member of the current Y Combinator batch of speed-incubated startups, Noteleaf solves the problem Klamka experienced, mining the information you want and sending you a text message with a link to a profile of the person you're about to meet. And it does most of this automatically (provided, in the current iteration, that you use Google Calendar).
Going in, Klamka and his partner, Wil Chung, decided that a principle of Noteleaf's design would be that it not demand new behavior on the part of the user—Klamka calls this the "whole driving philosophy" of the startup. Noteleaf isn't an app; it's something you sign up for on the web, and it works behind the scenes, without needing any direct input from you.
Here's an example. After signing up for Noteleaf, the next day you note in your Google Calendar that you have "coffee with Jake" at 1:30 p.m. the next day. Noteleaf then searches through your data—your LinkedIn contacts, headings in your Gmail, and so on—to figure out which Jake it thinks you're meeting with. It builds out a profile, mined from, in this case, Jake Klamka's LinkedIn data, and automatically texts you a link to the information a few minutes before the meeting.
Klamka says he's going for "an element of magic" with all this—"that wow moment," he adds, where the user asks, "how did you know that?"
Noteleaf started from scratch in December, and joined Y Combinator in January; the company is very young. The recognition algorithm isn't perfect, yet, Klamka admits. It's hovering around the 80% mark in terms of accuracy—more accurate, obviously, if you put in full names, and if you scheduled the meeting over email. For the moment, the service is free; down the line, he foresees a freemium model, with heavy users paying a monthly fee.
The new features in today's update include two elements that should help break the ice with the person you're meeting, plus something that will help ensure you get to the meeting on time. Noteleaf now shows you mutual connections on LinkedIn, the three most recent tweets of the person you're meeting (provided she feeds her tweets to LinkedIn), and a map to the meeting location, with estimated travel time.
"We're trying to take this from just being about the person you meet, towards the direction of giving you everything you need to get prepared for that meeting."
Now you'll never forget if you're about to meet with a potential investor, a client, or a date. Life just got less awkward.
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[Image: Flickr user CobraVerde]
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