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Krish Ramineni, Co-Founder & CEO of Fireflies.ai – Interview Series

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Krish Ramineni is the Co-Founder & CEO of Fireflies.ai, a platform that transforms conversations into actions. They offer voice assistant and transcription tools that are designed to automate your team’s workflow.

What initially attracted you to computer science and machine learning?

My attraction towards computer science and machine learning was more of a means to an end. I started with a problem that I faced in my own life and thought about how I can solve it.

That’s when I realized I needed to learn computer science and ML to achieve it. I was very passionate about building software that would save time and boost productivity.

I wanted to be able to just press a button and have some sort of magic happen that would impact millions of people. And ML and computer science just happened to be those tools that could help solve interesting problems and build great apps.

Before Fireflies you were a product manager at Microsoft, could you discuss how this inspired the vision behind Fireflies?

I worked with various teams at Microsoft, including the Office, Skype, Bing, and NLP teams. One of the projects I worked on was called ‘customer voice,’ where we were able to analyze and quantify users’ in-app feedback provided through MS Office. This got me interested in the NLP side of things.

But what inspired me to start Fireflies had less to do with the products I worked on at Microsoft than the number of meetings I had. Back then, the common thing for everyone was just to say, “Hey, add that to my calendar. Let’s schedule a meeting.” Just doing meetings over and over again became my life, and I wanted to change that. I wanted to make meetings more productive and efficient; that was the inspiration behind Fireflies.

How many pivots were necessary to land on the current formula?

We pivoted 5-6 times before getting to where we are today.

When I first met with my co-founder Sam, it was in college, and we worked on different hackathon projects. We did a lot of creative projects, such as building drones, food delivery apps, and crypto wallets. That was initially just for fun; there was no idea or goal to turn that into a company.

Our first serious foray into natural language processing was when we built a to-do list that would automatically be generated based on the conversations. For example, suppose I messaged someone saying, “I’ll send you this by next Friday” or “Let’s meet up for coffee tomorrow” on LinkedIn, Slack, or other messaging channels. In that case, Fireflies could detect if I or someone I’m speaking to is promising to do something and add it to my to-do list. I would wake up every morning and look at my automatically generated to-do list.

It was a cool idea that became our segway into this space. We built email extensions, chatbots, and Slack bots. Eventually, we decided that voice is a massive area we should tackle.

Voice is a blue ocean because you can easily look back at the email you sent two years ago, but if you had a meeting two hours ago, you probably would have already forgotten everything that was said. So, it’s crucial to record, transcribe, and make those meetings searchable.

Could you discuss some of the challenges behind building a 24/7 culture for software that is international in scope?

The main challenge is getting people to work across different time zones, so we have to hire across many countries. We have built a remote-first, global-first organization with a 24-hour presence because people have meetings around the clock.

Currently, we’re almost 100 people across 15 countries in several different time zones. No matter when you log in, work is always happening at Fireflies. There’s always some level of overlap and handoff between people. Different teammates are working at different times from different regions.

What are some of the core functionalities that are currently offered by Fireflies?

There are actually a lot.

We can transcribe notes at very high accuracy, then generate meeting summaries. We can also immediately show the action items, questions, and dates and times discussed during calls with one click.

We can automatically log the meeting notes inside your core applications like CRMs, project management systems, Slack, and Notion. We’re also able to analyze calls to provide different insights, such as how much you’re talking, how many filler words you use, and how fast you’re talking.

Our core goal is to help you review a one-hour call in less than five minutes

What are some examples of how Fireflies makes enterprises more productive?

Fireflies is extremely valuable for capturing your organization’s voice and building a knowledge base around it—that’s enterprise-level value right there.

Unlike Wiki documents and other stuff that get stale over time, your voice conversations are always self-updating. Fireflies helps create a knowledge base for your entire organization.

It’s a self-updating knowledge base that helps you search for any information you want to know about your customers, the voice of your customers, the voice of candidates you’re hiring, the voice of your colleagues, and what’s being discussed in meetings and essential topics.

The other thing is Fireflies automatically fills out your CRM (and other apps), making you highly productive. It also makes you more knowledgeable and personable, allowing you to do fewer administrative tasks, focus on the conversations, and be more present in meetings.

Fireflies is working on releasing a host of new features, could you discuss some what is currently on the roadmap?

We hope to support multiple languages soon and have just rolled out the video capture and recording feature. We recently introduced channels so you can organize your meetings across many different departments more succinctly.

We have many more exciting things on the roadmap. We’ll also offer a global search soon, which means you can search across all of your meetings, not just within an individual meeting. But I’m really thrilled about foreign languages because that naturally will be able to open up the market exponentially to more people.

What is your vision for the future of work?

My vision for the future of work is that we will have a lot of workflow automation and tools to auto-complete tasks so that we can spend more time on value-add stuff rather than mundane, repetitive tasks.

There are still so many organizations where people are copying and pasting the same sort of things into different spreadsheets, moving files, and doing a lot of tedious, low-value organizational tasks.

I think a lot of those repetitive jobs will get automated, and people will have a chance to work on more creative, value-add stuff uniquely positioned for humans.

Fireflies has succeeded in growing exponentially even with very little marketing spend, what do you attribute this success to?

We built a product-led growth company, meaning we start with the end users in mind, and that’s how adoption grows over time. We’re very transparent—our pricing is available on the website.

We reduce friction; any person, whether a single consultant or a thousand-person organization, can get started quickly. We have a freemium plan that anyone can try using the free trial of our business tier so that people can use it, experience it, understand the value, and swipe their credit card afterward and pay for it.

Meetings are also naturally viral and Fireflies showing up on those calls helps start a great conversation and gets more people interested. Or when the participants receive the meeting recap afterward, they’re like, “This is awesome. I wanna sign up for Fireflies.”

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Fireflies?

I think it’s important to understand how expensive meetings truly cost and how much time is wasted in meetings. According to a survey, 40% of people said their meetings are unproductive. They have so many redundant meetings that could have been emails.

Organizations are wasting 20-30 billion dollars worth of money in having meetings. When you get 5-6 executive-level people for a meeting, that’s extremely expensive in terms of the time and opportunity cost of what they could have been doing otherwise.

We have a massive mission of making meetings more productive, which could be worth billions of time and energy saved, and helping organizations make better decisions.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more and test out some fantastic business AI tools should visit Fireflies.ai.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.