Nearly seven years after selling its previous company to Google, Jacob Bank is preparing to launch its next project. This time the focus is on automating mundane and repetitive tasks.
Bank was previously co-founder and CEO of Timeful. Timeful is a smart scheduling app that helps users make better use of their time by automatically prioritizing different commitments. After being sold to Google in 2015, Bank joined Google’s ranks and set out to integrate its core Timeful technology into his Gmail and Google Calendar. He has since moved on to various roles at tech giants, including Gmail, Calendar, Google Chat, and his product lead for Google Workspaces.
Fast-forward to July 2021 and Bank split from Google to found Relay. Relay makes it its mission to “work on collaborative workflows” with a product that sits somewhere at the intersection of Zapier and Asana. He also said he was able to hire a number of product, design and engineering people from the Gmail and Google Calendar development teams.
“From a product perspective, we aim to combine the time-saving automation of Zapier with the accountability of Asana, but optimized for repetitive workflows,” Bank told TechCrunch.
automation for people
There’s certainly no shortage of workflow automation tools, and Zapier is perhaps the prime example, but newcomers such as Bardeen have also caught the attention of venture capitalists. Another thing Relay seeks to capitalize on is the desire to cut down on tedious and repetitive tasks. I have a specific scenario in mind. It’s a use case, not, as Bank puts it, “automated mechanical data flow from one product to another.” Details collaboration support where multiple people need to work together.
For example, all-hands meetings, investor updates, board meetings, newsletters, planning cycles – anything that repeats across business areas is within the scope of Relay. The same goes for “feature-specific playbooks” such as new employee onboarding, customer onboarding, and feature releases. Essentially, it aims to reduce time-consuming administration from various business functions, from COO to product management to customer success.
Relay sits on top of existing productivity tools such as calendars and team collaboration software, removing much of the manual work involved in organizing specific events and activities. For example, a monthly all-hands meeting might have multiple contributors from different departments, each responsible for preparing their own updates. Relay allows companies to pre-configure many administrative procedures, such as messaging contributors a few days before an all-hands meeting. He will then be asked to add content and automatically create a Slack channel for him dedicated to that particular meeting.
Using these various productivity tools individually in their own silos means that if an all-hands meeting date needs to be pushed back a few days at the last minute, the organizer or admin typically wants to know the date and schedule in Asana, for example. must be updated manually. With Relay all changes are reflected up and down the chain.
“Perhaps the most important difference between our product and what we have now is that we pursue a class of use cases that has never been explicitly offered,” said Bank. “The operational workflows necessary to run a great team: all onboarding, lead meetings, executive updates, product reviews, business reviews, newsletters, planning processes, onboarding, project tracking, feature releases, customer latest information, etc.
For now, Relay remains a closed early access product, with plans to move to an open beta phase by the end of the year. For now, it’s keeping most of its early users a secret, but has acknowledged Ramp and Lumos as “design partners” and is poised for a broader rollout.
“We target 30 to 500 organizations. [workers] It’s big and most of our early design partners are technology companies,” says Bank.
To take things to the next level, Relay also announced it had raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by Khosla Ventures, which also invested in Timeful in 2014. Angelic.
Khosla Ventures partner Sandhya Venkatachalam said in a statement: Jacob has a founder he’s backed and a team with the track record, conviction and talent to take on this incredibly difficult challenge. ”