June 26, 2013

Sneaky Smart MVP

A Sneaky Smart MVP by Zenlike 



David Quail was the cofounder of Atassa which he sold to Yousendit.  In thinking about his next venture you’d think a successful  entrepreneur and accomplished engineer would jump into building and testing his next hypothesis over the next few months with a patent pending type of code base.




David was surely annoyed at the ass ache that is scheduling meetings but not sure if the application of the idea that he had to fix it would be good enough to get customers and to scale.


Scheduling a meeting takes 4 steps:  

Finding a mutual time.

Creating the invite.

Sending out the Invite

Getting Confirmation.


He imagined that there’s enough contextual information in a natural conversation between two parties to use Artificial intelligence to create a meeting automatically.  But the going rate for an AI engineer is only slightly less than the salary for Barack Obama.  So before hiring an AI engineer, he decided to validate the solution in the cheapest way possible.


For $0.05, a mechanical Turk worker could read an email and schedule a time if they had access to the data so long as David and the team could find a way to protect the identities of the two parties. But what’s even cheaper than $0.05 is $0.  So before employing turkers and building the technology to hide identities, David manually played the role of the artificial intelligent natural language processing algorithm, allowing a select few early users to email “” to have meetings scheduled.  David would manually create the meetings using this data, and in the process ironed out the user experience while at the same time proving demand.  Enough demand was shown that they’re now applying natural language processing to create the meeting automatically.


The process for using Zenlike is incredibly simple:  cc and your meetings are created for you within 30 minutes automatically.  If you like it, then you’ll use it again.  There’s plenty of other features they’re continuing to test using a similar manual approach.

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