Featured Startup Pitch: Sunsama – Making it easy for teams and stakeholders to connect offline

By Editor September 8, 2015

Sunsama screen1

COMPANY: Sunsama

ELEVATOR PITCH

Organize offline conversations with your team.

PRODUCT/SERVICE DESCRIPTION

Sunsama is an app that helps teams organize all their meetings, calls, lunches and karaoke parties in one place.

Teams rely on face-to-face conversations to solve their hardest problems. Sunsama makes it easy for people in teams to get together offline. By organizing all offline events in one place, everyone in the team can stay in sync about what’s going on, and get involved in the conversations that matter most. More face time, less hassle.

Sunsama is built for highly collaborative teams and organizations. If your craft benefits from input and discussions with your team, Sunsama is made for you.

Sunsama will give knowledge workers a space where they can quickly assemble meetings/calls around conversation topics. You’ll have visibility into what conversations are happening offline within your team, so you can join in, follow up, or share your input via comments. Teams will be able to share their availability and easily schedule group meetings both within the team and across enterprises.

Sunsama will be fully synchronized with whatever calendar you use, and integrate into your most important tools that help you communicate with your team (e.g. Slack), and manage your time (e.g. TripIt).

Teams will have a feed that’s the pulse of their organization. Meetings will be presented as opportunities and not obligations.

Similar to Slack, you’ll be able to organize your team’s activities into channels, so that coordinating multiple projects and mixing in more social/playful activities is clean and simple. You’ll be able to comment, ‘@’ mention teammates, and share files and notes on a meeting-by-meeting basis.

When we’re ready to serve larger enterprises, we’ll provide analytics about meetings and interactions within the organization, so companies can figure out how to encourage more productive conversations.

DIFFERENTIATORS VS. THE COMPETITION

Google Calendar. Shared calendars on look like a horrendous Lego brick castle for teams bigger than five, and you can’t share calendars across organizations. The Sunsama feed lets you leave comments and have discussions around calendar events no matter how big your team. Sunsama teams can include people who work at different companies, that way you can find times that work for everyone.

FOUNDERS

Travis and I (Ashutosh) met while designing Volkswagen’s Internet-enabled car back in 2009. We coordinated engineers and executives from the American headquarters, the German headquarters, the Palo Alto research lab and two other research universities.

After this, I moved to Palo Alto to work at LumobodyTech. I wrote activity recognition algorithms for wearable sensors. Those algorithms became commercially available in the LUMOback product and also used in clinical research at Stanford University.

Travis left to work on an innovative data-science based approach to counterterrorism at Deloitte in D.C. Travis and I didn’t see each other again till I got a text from him that he was in Palo Alto for a few days. We ended up grabbing dinner at Da Sichuan and I started asking him about his project at Deloitte. Travis looked wildly uncomfortable as soon as I asked him. I thought it might just have been the blood red chili broth he just guzzled down, but it turned out that the counterterrorism project just didn’t go anywhere.

It had the same setup as our VW project, and so Travis had similarly high expectations. It was an innovative project with a star-studded team of engineers and data-scientists and plenty of funding. He said his team had done some great technical work but couldn’t turn it into a meaningful, high-level strategy because it was next to impossible to coordinate face time with clients, subject-area experts, and other stakeholders. Literally, the lack of human interaction was crippling the project. It was in that moment that we realized we had to build Sunsama.

Founders:

Ashutosh Priyadarshy, University of Virginia, B.S. Electrical Engineering

Travis Meyer, University of Virginia, B.S. Information Engineering and B.A. Economics

BUSINESS MODEL

Free tier with basic functionality for teams big and small. Coming soon: Premium features available for $10 per user/month.

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HEADQUARTERS: San Mateo, California

WEBSITE: sunsama.com

YEAR FOUNDED: 2014

TWITTER: @sunsamahq

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/sunsamahq