In the spring of 2013, Dennis Mortensen’s predictive analytics company, Visual Revenue, was acquired by Outbrain. As entrepreneurs are famously known for devoting all hours of the day to their budding startups, Mortensen finally had some time.
With an entrepreneurial itch, he decided to count how many meetings he had scheduled over the past year. He tallied up to 1,019. Out of those 1,019 meetings, 672 of them were rescheduled. Factoring in email ping pong, Mortensen averaged that it takes about 17 minutes to schedule a meeting—which adds up to about nine hours per week spent on this mundane task. Mortensen’s next venture, x.ai, was born.
X.ai is a personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence. The service works to help professionals drastically cut down on time spent scheduling meetings, without having to hire a real personal assistant. The service works like this:
When you receive a meeting request, you Cc: Amy Ingram or Andrew Ingram, the company’s current available assistants. This virtually hands over the job to the bots, who email with your contact to find the best time and location based on your schedule and preferences. Seamlessly, a meeting invite appears in your inbox, and the meeting is booked on your calendar.
Users can simply email Amy or Andrew their scheduling preferences including their favorite meeting times, places and types (i.e. phone calls, in-person gatherings).
X.ai has raised $11.3 million in venture capital so far, which it has used in order to scale its business pre-launch. For now, the company remains in closed beta, with a huge volume of beta users already utilizing the service. When the product launches it will include a free version for individuals who schedule less than about 10 meetings per month. The premium version of x.ai will allow users to customize their personal assistants’ names and email signatures. Soon after coming out of beta, x.ai also plans to release a business edition of the service for enterprises who want to incorporate the technology into their companies at large.
While we’ve seen artificially intelligent “assistants” before in the form of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, these services only apply to general queries. X.ai’s mission is to hone in on one specific task—scheduling meetings—and disrupt a massive pain point in the modern office.
“I like the paradigm shift we’re seeing in software moving away from apps that assist you in doing your job faster and more accurately to intelligent agents that complete a job you want done in full,” said Mortensen.
Globally, there are about 10 billion formal meetings conducted per year, which is the market that x.ai is hunting. Using intelligent (and affordable) virtual assistants, the entire workforce will be able to organize their schedules better, as assistants will no longer be a privilege awarded solely to top executives.
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