Generative AI is the buzzword of the moment in the technology industry. It’s no wonder – the VC firm Sequoia not so long ago predicted that generative AI, which includes AI that can generate text, art, and more based on prompts, could generate trillions of dollars in economic value in the long run. Is that just the optimistic reverie of a company heavily invested in space? Maybe. On the other hand, generative AI has proven to be a labor taste.
Supernormal hopes to demonstrate the value of generative AI with its technology, which creates meeting minutes by integrating with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other conferencing platforms. There are many vendors in the meeting notes transcription room, which exploded during the pandemic when working from home became the norm. But Supernormal sets itself apart by extracting important details from meetings, such as actions and decisions, and relies on OpenAI’s word processing AI to do the summary work.
It’s a strong sales pitch. Supernormal announced today that it has raised $10 million in a funding round led by Balderton with participation from Acequia Capital and by Founders VC. The new money brings the company’s total revenue to about $12.9 million, which co-founder and CEO Colin Treseler says will be spent on product R&D and hiring.
“Currently, Supernormal has a small team of 5, which is expected to grow to 25 by the end of 2023 – mainly in engineering, marketing and [customer] success,” Treseler told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The new funding will be used to advance the mission of delivering end-to-end workflow solutions based on foundational meeting data and to develop next-generation tools that deliver actions and insights from conversations across the organization.”
Treseler co-founded Supernormal with Fabian Perez, whom he met 13 years ago while working at a Balderton-funded company. (Treseler also held product manager roles at Meta and was the chief of staff of Klarna’s risk management division, while Perez was the director of design at GitHub.) In 2020, the two spent two weeks brainstorming what to build next. After long sessions, they realized that they had no notes of the conversations and that well-documented discussions would be critical to their success.
“On an organizational level, our meetings are an important part of our work product that has been ephemeral or too cumbersome to consume – who watches an hour-long meeting again when the main notes are important?” Treseler said. “In particular, we’ve heard that this product is extremely transformative for product managers, team leaders, and customer-facing teams, helping them easily track important updates and milestones.”
To that end, Supernormal’s platform, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 model, writes meeting and conversation notes in categories such as “presentation,” “customer discovery conversation,” and “interview.” Supernormal extracts details like customer goals and objectives, Treseler explains, and tries to automate post-meeting action items like follow-up emails, scheduling, and introductions.
Supernormal is self-learning – as users edit their notes, they improve the quality of the notes they get on their next call. But they can also delete all stored data if they want to for privacy reasons.
“As companies close contracts, team members will be under pressure to continually meet deadlines and demonstrate value. A tool like Supernormal supports them at every stage of their work and takes the administrative burden off them,” says Treseler. “It also takes the pressure off employees to be overly communicative and transparent, with Supernormal making this easily possible – helping to increase productivity and keep everyone connected regardless of location and time zones.”
Here I should note that Supernormal’s abilities are not super novel, no pun intended. Otter, a competitor, recently rolled out AI-generated meeting summaries. For transcribing and highlighting key moments in meetings, there are also Headroom, tl;dv, Xembly, and Fireflies.ai.
But Treseler claims Supernormal is cheaper than most solutions on the market — less than $1 per meeting on average — and already has a growing paying customer base. 50,000 users in more than 250 organizations, including Netflix, Airbnb and Snapchat, are actively using the platform, he says,
The trick for Supernormal is to achieve profitability, given the high cost of relying on the OpenAI API. The most comprehensive GPT-3 plan cost about $0.02 per ~750 words, which sounds like a lot – until you consider a 30-minute meeting transcript ranges between 3,000 and 6,000 words.
Another more existential business challenge is the desire of remote workers to forego frequent meetings. In July 2022 survey at RedRex, employees said they spent an average of 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings; 71% felt their work time was often wasted due to unnecessary or canceled meetings. In addition, more than half of respondents said they want to actively reduce how much time they spend in virtual meetings.
Treseler admitted that – and hated sharing Supernormal’s sales figures. But he believes the growth is sustainable.
“As more companies have gone hybrid or fully remote, Supernormal is becoming an essential tool for distributed teams,” Treseler continues. “We’ve seen explosive growth as teams try to figure out the hybrid or distributed model. Once a team member is handed out, a meeting documentation tool is needed.”