Business professionals, look no further. All those hours spent researching for client meetings can now be put to better use. This is the new way to prepare for a business meeting.
In January 2013, while driving on the motorway and attempting to prepare for a business meeting, the founders of UK start-up Lowdown had the realisation they could automate this mundane, yet essential task.
Lowdown CEO David Senior reflects on the moment:
“I was driving and I said to Michael Worley, my co-founder, “we need to find out more about the people we’re meeting, the company we’re meeting, where we need to park”. During the two-hour journey back to London from Birmingham, he was in and out of 3G, trying to access websites and apps on his iPhone 4S. It was just hell to find this information.
And that was it. We looked at each other and thought: “Surely there’s a better way of doing this?” That was the Eureka moment. We thought, “Yes there is and we know how to do it.”
An eminently valuable user base
After spending six months researching the technicalities and whether there was a market for it, the two Londoners founded Lowdown in July 2013. Just six weeks later, they had a working iOS prototype for the app and £150,000 in the bank.
2015 is the year for Lowdown to focus on expansion. The 2.0 version of the app came out in January, while the ‘Lowdown for Business’ service will be released on Feb 2nd. Senior intends to make the consumer-version of the app free, while this made-to-tailor version of the app looks to be the basis of the startup’s revenue model, which is vital given the profile of the 3,000 and fast growing monthly active users it has.
Senior explains, “We have users in 23 different countries but predominantly in the UK and US, which are our two major target markets. These users are all very senior people, tech leaders and influencers, so it’s an eminently valuable segment of the population that we have as users. We’ve got 90% of the FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies – users who work for those companies – using Lowdown to prepare for a business meeting.”
Faster than search?
So what has attracted corporate executives and CEOs to this meetings app?
Senior attributes it to the attention economy principle, “The human brain will create a habit in that once you know where to get information the quickest you’ll keep going back. Once you’ve used Lowdown to prepare for a meeting, you’ll realize it’s the fastest way to get meeting information.”
The simplicity of the app may help too. It consists of four features that provide the necessary information ahead of a meeting. It has Google or Apple maps to show you where the meeting is and how to get to it, people profiles and company information through LinkedIn and the web. “Lowdown works from a calendar invitation. What we do is take a slice of your calendar and then source information from the device anonymously. We cross-reference that with publicly available internet-based information so it’s in context, i.e. a business meeting, for a user without them having to search”.
Senior elaborates, “There are 1.6 million apps on the App Store, 1600 new apps a day and there isn’t a similar meetings app to ours. You could put 50 Google engineers in a room for a year and they won’t be able to copy it so it gives us protection for investors who look at us.”
From iOS to Android?
In October 2014, Lowdown became the first-ever U.K. investment from the Indian Angel Network (IAN), Asia’s largest angel investor network with over 350 investors across 10 countries.
Senior reflects on the IAN’s involvement, “We’d raised £260,000 in total, mainly from friends and family, with a few angels and then the Indian Angel Network invested in us. They’re currently talking to us and advising us about building Lowdown for Android for India, which may or may not be the right move for us strategically as a business. I think our focus is on making the iOS version a success first before we scale to different platforms.”
More funding appears to be the key to perfecting the user experience on the current app, before Lowdown looks to go for mass-scale.
“We’re raising a super seed round – we run out of cash in June/July so it’s before then. We need a million or £500,000 banked. That will allow us to hire more people to build more services and that will take us to Series A [funding] at the end of this year or early 2016.”
While Lowdown can automate and simplify how you prepare for a business meeting in the Anglophone market, multiple other uses have been suggested. Padmaja Ruparel, the IAN President, has even suggested the app could be a part of due diligence prior to an arranged marriage.
For now, David Senior and the rest of the Lowdown team are more focused on perfecting the iOS app, by meeting the needs of the app’s current users with new uses: “accessing internal CRMs [customer relationship management systems], internal meeting management, a due diligence tool, interview management, candidate research etc.”
For Senior, the ambition is big. “I’ve got two goals. Either sell for £100m or create a billion pound business.” Watch this space.