Over the past few years, multiple startups have tried to take the hassle out of scheduling meetings. Calendar tools like Meetingbird and Calendly let users create meeting slots for attendees to choose from, while virtual assistants like X.ai can schedule entire meetings on the user’s behalf.
Now former Facebook executives Timothy Campos and Burc Arpat have launched a new startup called Woven to take another crack at the problem.
Woven is essentially another group scheduling tool aimed at eliminating back-and-forth email coordination. It’s also a stand-alone calendar app that integrates with Google’s G Suite (and, soon, with Microsoft Office 365). Campos says the goal was to combine a full-blown calendar experience with smarter scheduling features.
“If you look at Calendly or X.ai or some of the other applications that are trying to help people solve the scheduling problem, they’re not calendars,” says Campos, who was Facebook’s CIO from 2010 to late 2016. “Really, this is the only product that I’m aware of that puts [calendars and scheduling features] together.”
To schedule an event through Woven’s app or desktop website, you can either create one from scratch or pick from a list of “Suggested” events, which uses natural language processing to scan your email inbox for meeting requests. You can then ask Woven to suggest some times that work with your schedule.
Woven then sends an email to the other attendees, asking them to pick one of your suggested times. They can also open a link to Woven’s website and suggest alternative times, which Woven will check against your own calendar. (If all attendees are using Woven, the app will suggest mutually available times from the start.)
Using Woven’s app isn’t mandatory. You can also type “@woven” in an email and ask it to suggest meeting times on its own. (That aspect of Woven is similar to X.ai, whose virtual assistants come up with meeting times based on your calendar.) But the app itself includes some clever touches to make scheduling easier, such as a map view that shows travel times to each meeting and the ability to select which of your calendars Woven should work around. The app also lets you view “draft” events and make adjustments to tentative meeting times.
“Because we’ve integrated the scheduling experience and the calendar experience, we have much more of the context of what the user is trying to do,” Campos says.
Woven’s current scheduling features are available for free, and the plan is to offer paid subscriptions for more advanced scheduling features in the future.
Still, Campos says scheduling is just the beginning of what Woven hopes to offer. Users can already apply tags and private notes to their events, and the plan is to support attachments and third-party app integration in the future. Woven is also planning to offer analytics tools to users and organizations, turning users’ schedules into insights on whether they’re making good use of meeting times.
Campos refers to these kinds of connections between calendars and other services as a “graph engine”–a clear nod to the Facebook “social graph” that analyzes the connections between users. Woven’s long-term goal is to turn its calendar connections into interesting new time-management applications, and it has raised a seed round of $4.8 million to pursue that mission.
“We don’t see ourselves just as a scheduling tool,” Campos says.