(Meme via the internet)
Mamie Kanfer Stewart has entrepreneurship in her bones.
The 34-year-old CEO of productivity company Meeteor grew up working for her family’s business, GoJo, the Akron, Ohio–based maker of Purell hand sanitizer. She later set up her family’s foundation, working remotely from Minneapolis, where her husband was attending graduate school. That experience threw her into the fire of management and it was initially a mess, she told Technical.ly. But once she began codifying her practices, Stewart saw another opportunity: to share her newly-gained knowledge with other companies.
Thus began her foray into consulting. Stewart, who sports square tortoiseshell glasses and is impeccably organized, looks the part. After a couple of years on the job, however, she began to grow restless.
“Being a consultant didn’t feel like enough to me,” she said.
So she enrolled at the NYU Stern School of Business, where she earned her MBA in 2014. Around the time she began her program, cloud-based apps were coming into vogue. Stewart enlisted developers Dan Toyama and Phil Agee to develop an app for managing meetings and launched her company, Meeteor, in the fall of 2013. The company now has five employees, including Toyama and Agee, and they work out of a converted brownstone in Park Slope.
We met Stewart at this summer’s Startup Spectacular, where she had the most polished pitch of all the ones we watched. Yeah, she knows meeting management is the furthest thing from sexy but she’s adamant that it’s a serious problem in the working world (and anyone who’s been in a meeting would probably agree). She tries to keep her app demos light by running mock meetings on say, building the Death Star. She used that example for one early customer, a neuroscience company.
Meeteor’s app is now in beta and being used by nearly 20 companies and organizations, with a handful of them paying for the product. Available for the web and on iPhones, it is free for teams up to five people and $5 per month per user for larger teams. That pricing will likely increase, Stewart told us, some time after the app goes out of beta, which is scheduled to happen later this month.
Stewart, who lives with her husband and two children in Prospect Heights, said code is something she’s still wrapping her head around.
“The design world was very comfortable,” she said. “I could create a million mockups. But the technical side — code writing and development — that was totally new.”
To address those knowledge gaps, Meeteor now holds internal lunch-and-learn sessions each month, many of which address tech topics. One recent session dug into the basics of code: knowing HTML and CSS from Ruby on Rails.
“It’s become something we all want to learn about,” Stewart said.
Stewart does, however, have plenty of expertise in making the most out of time. Her suggestions: Only invite the people who are absolutely needed to a meeting; others on the team can receive a summary later. Writing out the specific agenda for each meeting in advance helps everyone to be better prepared.
“It gets you thinking beyond just the topic of the meeting,” she said. “It makes you think of the actual result that’s desired.”
So what’s the result she would like to see for Meeteor? (She’s already seen what it looks like for an app to go bust — she acquired the domain for her company’s site from a defunct startup with the same name.) She says she’d like to see meeting management tools become standard in corporate America —and for Meeteor to become the marquee brand.
“The same way Salesforce is synonymous with CRM, I want Meeteor to be synonymous as a big enterprise product for meeting management,” she said.