Dubai-based Wrappup adds a layer of intelligence to your meetings

Startup Spotlight

Martin Luther King recounted his seminal dream in 17 minutes. The haunting peroration of Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech lasted a mere minute. Allegedly, legendary Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson once gave his players a team-talk that consisted of just three words before facing Tottenham Hotspurs. “Lads, it’s Tottenham,” he scoffed.

Lengthy discourse rarely makes for inspiring, motivating, or memorable moments, and anyone that has had to endure protracted meetings can attest to the same effect.

Death by meetings

French polling company IFOP surveyed 1002 managers and found that meetings last an average of an hour and nineteen minutes. Not surprisingly, it also found that the average attention span of a manager falls significantly short of that duration, lasting just 52 minutes. This problem is even more apparent in younger managers: aged 35 and under, their attention tends to drop after 45 minutes.

Ironically though, staff meetings are precisely what inspired Wrappup, an up and coming startup based in Dubai, led by entrepreneurs Rami Salman, Ayush Chordia and Rishav Jalan.

Wrappup is a cloud-based meeting productivity tool that uses smart recording to capture and summarize meeting discussions. Once a meeting is over, the audio is sent to the cloud, where it gets transcribed using IBM Watson and becomes immediately searchable.

Participants can also pin notes to the timeline to mark specific sections or moments during a recording. Notes, which can be either text or audio format, are then shared as minutes of meeting. Notes are also playable, and can be categorized as tasks, which load into a task list with due dates, or decisions, which mark conclusions in the discussion. The app allows users to take images and tag them to the timeline as well.

Salman, 26, had the idea for Wrappup while he was employed at Bain & Company. He was frequently tasked with taking meeting minutes, sometimes as often as five times a day, and pondered it if were possible to effectively automate that process. Salman met Chordia, 22, and Jalan, 21, during a hackathon; the three developed the idea together and built the initial version within 24 hours.

The Wrappup team

From left to right: Ayush Chordia leads backend development, Rami Salman, business and product development, and Rishav Jalan, leades the mobile app development.

Watson currently support 17 languages; Arabic is not yet included. Chordia asserts that Cognit, a joint venture between IBM Watson and Mubadala, an investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi, is currently working toward adding Arabic to Waston.

Augmented Audio

Chordia, who is in charge of the backend development, has developed a number of proprietary algorithms for the service. He created a search algorithm that searches audio instead of text. “It’s phonetically powered which means it searches on how word sounds rather than the actual transcript, which increases the likelihood of finding a search result by three times,” he explained.

Another algorithm enables Wrappup to recognize different speakers automatically. The system can discern distinct voice prints, which users can then associate with the names of their owners manually. From thereon, Wrappup becomes able to automatically identify which person is talking – provided that his or her voice print has already been identified – and tag his or her speech accordingly. Furthermore, using Watson’s tone analyzer, the system is able to perceive and gauge a speaker’s mood; it can tell for instance how confident he or she is, whether they are analytical, angry, joyful, agreeable, or open.

As a practical example, let’s imagine that a manager has decided to examine one meeting and derive useful insights using these tools. He could segment the meeting based on topics and label the each part accordingly, specifying that the first 30 minutes revolved around project A, that the following 20 revolved around financials, and so on.

Then, using the information about tonality, the manager could note for example that while employee X spoke at length when financials were discussed, he seemed to shy away during the rest of the meeting; the manager could observe that employee Y is typically hostile when conversing with employee X; employee Y’s tone might also reveal that he is particularly passionate about project A, and so on and so forth.

A third algorithm allows Wrappup to make use of several mics from several devices simultaneously. This feature was developed with meetings that involve a large number of people in mind, where employees might be sat far apart. Wrappup is able to combine all the recordings into one high quality audio file.

The Wrappup app

Beyond meeting minutes

Wrappup is in private beta with several multinationals already on board. The idea is to gather as much user insight as possible: how is the app being used, which types of users are logging in most often and which types of features are they using most.

“We’ve seen it picked up in sales environments where people want to act on information quickly; we’ve seen project managers use it in steering committees; even in HR, when you’re sharing a lot of info across the team to evaluate people. We’ve seen students that listen back to the work assignment, take a picture of the whiteboard and tag it to the timeline,” explained Salman.

Looking ahead

There are 15 multi-nationals that are currently using Wrappup, including Emirates Airlines, which has deployed it in its internal app store.

Wrappup has already closed a seed funding round, which was led by BECO Capital. At a later stage, the company intends to sell its service using a freemium SaaS business model. Premium features will include features such as unlimited storage, speech search or analytics.

“We also think that the employees are at the forefront making IT decisions. It’s not longer something that comes top down, but it’s actually driven bottom up. People are beginning to use these products, mainly millennials, in their environment, in their large enterprise, and it slowly grows form one person to one team and to one division,” concluded Salman.

For the record, Fergie went on to amass a record 38 wins against Spurs in his career.