Creating An Alternative to Tungle.me

The Road to reinventing how you schedule your meetings

by Jesper Klingenberg, Co-founder of Timebird


Time is a strange concept. It’s something we all have, no matter where you were born, where you went to school, who your parents are or what your favourite food is, everyone gets 24 hours in a day.

Since we all have a fixed amount of time, it’s a lot like money. Once you spend it on one thing, you cannot spend it on something else. The problem is however, that like the oppotunity cost of spending your money — spending your time on something also has an oppununity cost. Most people just don’t think much about the cost of time.

Our demands right now is clear — but what we are giving up and cannot do because of it, is completely unclear. And this is dangerous because almost everything we do; going places, meeting people and doing the things, that we need to do has to do with managing time — time with yourself, with other people, or even for other people.

But managing time, especially with other can be painful. Remember the last time you where trying to schedule something with someone?

When are you available? Monday? No can’t do Monday. Wednesday after 3PM. Sorry that doesn’t work for me. OK, let’s do Friday then. Yes.. I mean no that doesn’t work for me either…

It’s almost like an endless flow of back-and-forth communication, that only becomes more complex, when more people who join in.

A few years ago, a few people worked on providing a solution to this nightmare. They created a product called ‘Tungle.me’ and became pretty popular. But they quickly received an offer, they simply couldn’t resist and in 2012, Tungle was acquired by RIM (makers of Blackberry) and eventually their product was discontinued.


How are we going to reinvent scheduling with Timebird

Goal: help busy people save time when they want to meet with each other.

Imagine a simple calendar interface that shows your entire schedule — across all your calendars (work, private, shared etc.). The calendar lets you select time spots you want to meet with people.

It would be able to understand the difference between when you are free and busy. So it could help you by providing relevant suggestions for your meetings — you could just tell it, find me time for a morning meeting within 5 days. Or find me some suggestions for when I’m available to meet person X for a lunch down town.

“Find me suggestions for when I’m available to meet person X for lunch down town”.

When more people begin using the service, the suggestions would become even smarter. They are no longer just based on your availability — instead everybodys calendars are synced, matched and analyzed for free/busy.

Imagine being able to schedule a meeting with more than 4 participants and instantly receive suggestions for when everybody is available?

Then you only have to find out which of the days suggested people actually want to meet. Because a free spot in a calendar is not the same as actual availability. Factors like peference and unupdated calendars all play an important role in determining whether a person is actually available.

But if a service were able to provide you with 4–5 suggestions where you know that everybody are free (at least according to their calendar) — then perhaps it is possible to reduce the #1 time killer in schedulling: back-and-forth-communication.

a familiar calendar interface, where you schedule everything from. 1-to-1, groups, office hours.

So our solution is to propose a simple platform— that gives the user information in order to, drastically, reduce the communication needed.

Despite we say simple, such a system would be rather complex. But the question is do we want to use technology to enable people to take smarter decisions or do we want to make technology smarter than people?

In the words of Doug Engelbart we believe a scheduling service should augment the human mind rather than trying to replace it entirely.

By “augmenting human intellect” we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems

Doug Engelbart

We see a lot of interesting startups taking on a personal assistant approach to solving scheduling. Despite a personal interest for AI and other increasingly intelligent systems, we simply don’t believe that the technology nor people are quite ready for a computer to put them in the passenger seat — at least not right now.

Instead we are committed to the idea that we can provide value to people, by providing enough information through out the entire process of scheduling, that we drastically reduce the communication needed. In order words we think that we need to create a service that is almost obviously simple, that will do the heavy lifting, and can run the majority of your scheduling marathon — and then finally let you cross the finish line and take the credit.

Status:

We have been working on a solution like this for a little while now. What you see above is actual pixels from a product where most things are working. If you’d like to help us test or provide feedback we’re more than happy to hear from you.

Sign up here — tell us that you heard of Timebird on Medium, and we’ll contact you ASAP!

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