Aerotime strives to continuously optimize employee schedules – TechCrunch

Making time for focused, undisturbed work is a challenge not only for employees, who are dealing with a growing barrage of notifications, but also for teams and companies in general. One source estimates the cost of “lost” work at $650 million per year, not only because productivity losses cause a longer work day, but also because they can lead to a lack of engagement. According to Asana’s October 2021 Work Index, people waste more than five hours a week on busy work, including duplication of tasks and waiting for status updates.

The quest for greater productivity is fueling an entire industry of startups, all claiming to offer a superior alternative to the traditional list-and-calendar approach. Routine combines tasks with notes and a daily planner. Amie puts a twist on the traditional calendar formula with team-oriented tasks. Rise, another scheduling app, uses an engine to automatically configure the work week.

But Piyush Narwani thinks his task-organizing startup, Aerotime, has the potential to break through the saturated market. AY Combinator alum, Aerotime automatically stacks meetings on top of each other, using an algorithm to recommend the optimal meeting time.

“Aerotime started with the realization that I had that we lose a lot of time due to massive context changes with poorly planned meetings, and not planning the week in advance… The ‘meeting burden’ in a company is very culture dependent, and a product that solves meeting optimization, should not only think about technical planning, but also managing cultural expectations that vary wildly from one company to another,” Narwani told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Thanks to Seneca’s philosophies, Paul Graham’s creator versus manager thesis, and James Clear’s book, ‘Atomic Habits’ … we realized how good engineering and design can solve this problem without changing a user’s workflows.”

Image Credits: Aerotime

Both Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook can automatically suggest meeting times, as well as “focus times” or parts of the day for more intensive work. But the other co-founders of Narwani and Aerotime, Dhruv Goel, argue that Aerotime goes a few steps further with automatic replies for declined meetings, calendar recommendations, and the ability to move meetings on behalf of a user.

Narwani spent several years at Amazon Web Services as a senior software developer. Goel is a former senior product manager at LinkedIn.

“Aerotime is unique in two ways,” explains Narwani. “First, it dissolves for a team. A team has a number of creators, such as engineers and designers; a manager; and one to two functional managers. A product that builds great workflows for one group of users, but breaks for another, will not work in this setting. Second, Aerotime … creates uninterrupted space in the calendar, prioritizes important over urgent tasks, and focuses on the task at hand.”

In addition to the basics, Aerotime, which integrates with Slack, checks existing meetings to recommend a better daily meeting structure and provides shortcuts for scheduling tasks that can be placed on a desktop. Upcoming features will focus on analytics and goals to “set realistic expectations” and “improve discipline every week,” Narwani said.

“Everyone wants to stack meetings on top of each other, but there are nuances – like in the morning hours, most people don’t like having meetings, or after back-to-back conversations we need a buffer time to recharge, which maybe are different for people,” Narwani said. “Aerotime is slowly improving to better deal with these parameters in our recommendation. Aerotime also strives to maximize the ratio between task creation and performance, and for this we try to recommend the best times for task posting based on a few factors, such as ‘past task completion’ behavior.”


Image Credits: Aerotime

During the private beta, Aerotime managed to attract 70 teams, including from companies like NextDoor and Swiggy. The sales pitch was no doubt made easier in light of the evidence that productivity plummets as work hours increase, even if it’s becoming less clear whether technology improves productivity.

For Aerotime, the short-term focus is on addressing any kinks in the transition from the platform to general availability. The startup has raised $2 million so far from Sequoia Capital India, Nexus Venture Partners, SOMA Capital and several angel investors.

“The pandemic led to remote working and developer productivity continued to increase as Slack pings and meetings increased,” Narwani said. “This led to more tuning work and more context changes and less time for in-depth work and actual time to send code. With a broader slowdown in technology, hiring is slowing. This makes employee productivity an extremely important metric to track and improve. Aerotime’s premise of saving time through better prioritization and better planning adds a lot of value to this.”

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