Additional Thoughts – Book a Meeting Post Mortem
Posted on July 16, 2014
At the end of April, we shut down Book a Meeting after 8 months of effort to build a better way to find the right time for a meeting. I have previously detailed my lessons learned from running Book a Meeting.
Over the past three months, I have reflected further on the lessons learned and I missed a big one.
Meetings between people have class hierarchies or social stratification.
When we go through the process of booking a meeting, human beings will take into consideration their own social class in comparison to the social class of the person they are trying to meet with. Based on the social class relationship, we will have different expectations as to who will control the meeting parameters. Let me give an example. If a very influential and famous person (eg. Pope Francis or President Obama or whoever else might fit your criteria) wanted to book a meeting, it is very likely they would have complete control over the meeting parameters such as location, time and other participants. In contrast, if two social peers were booking a meeting the approach would be more accommodating. If you don’t believe me, when Stephen Harper decided he wanted to visit the Velocity Garage he not only dictated the parameters for the meeting but also had significant security accompanying him. The building was shut down to anyone who wasn’t part of the work area until he had left the building.
I didn’t realize that when we built Book a Meeting it had an implicit class structure to its approach. My main use of the product was to book meetings with people who would request my time (almost always by email) where they would be students from the University of Waterloo or founders within Velocity. For the Book a Meeting process to work, the initiator of the meeting would have to be willing to work through the process we had created in the product. Given the social structure of the requests coming to me, the students or founders were willing to jump through the hoops to find the day and time that fit my schedule. My co-founder Brian, whose primary use case would have been working with clients, found that the social relationship he shared with clients did not match the expectations for the product.
Unfortunately, the majority of people who have a significant number of meetings and a high social structure that would have been great candidates for using Book a Meeting have already solved this problem with a great solution- assistants. When starting the company, we intentionally were not targeting people who already had an assistant since they provide more value than just booking meetings. Looking back on our experience, I realize now that we completely misunderstood the market for the product because of the implied social structure to meetings. The largest target market for our product already had a solution.