BugCrowd co-founder raises $1.4 million for new startup that takes meeting notes for you


Notiv Founders Chris Raethke and Iain McCowan. Source: Supplied.

Brisbane startup Notiv has raised $1.4 million for its tech providing AI-enabled recording and transcription for professionals.

The funding round includes investment from Full Circle VC, Black Sheep Capital, and Transition Level Investments, the investment company of Shark Tank entrepreneur Steve Baxter.

Notiv was founded in March last year by BugCrowd co-founder Chris Raethke and Iain McCowan, who founded Dev-Audio, a microphone processing tech startup, which was acquired by Biamp in 2014.

Raethke tell StartupSmart the technology behind Notiv is something he’s been thinking about for years — even before he founded BugCrowd.

“I wanted to build this 10 years ago,” he says.

“As a founder, you’re always looking for ways to amplify yourself,” he adds.

“What does it look like to have unlimited recall of all the best bits of what happens in your business?”

Notiv records and transcribes meetings, with an aim to make sure everything said is on record and action items are shared and completed.

The product has been running in a closed beta, but was released to the public just last month.

Speaking to StartupSmart, McCowan notes a lot of hours go into meeting preparation, and this can add up to significant costs for a business.

“At the end, what you have is one person’s notes and perhaps a biased set of minutes,” he explains.

“Actions get forgotten, the reasons get lost, insights get lost,” he adds.

The final frontier

The co-founders launched Notiv after Raethke contacted McCowan out of the blue, having heard about some of his previous work in audio research.

For McCowan’s part, he had been working at Biamp, but was ready to throw himself into another startup.

“I’d been looking at the progress of deep learning and AI,” he explains.

He calls meeting transcription “the final frontier in speech recognition”.

However, technology had got to a point that made this kind of product a possibility.

“I was excited that research ideas were feasible,” McCowan explains.

While he was considering all of this, Raethke contacted him with the idea for Notiv.

“The coincidence of it all convinced me,” he says.

Delighting the customer

This is Notiv’s first capital raise, and while the founders have received some grant funding, a capital injection was needed to make sure they could take full advantage of the opportunity here.

“Things are moving so fast in this technology,” McCowan says.

“Basically, you can’t sit around wondering. If you’re going to do it you have to go for it.”

The founders will use the funding to grow the team in Australia and the US.

“To scale and move quickly you really need to hire good people,” McCowan explains.

They’re also working on product development, to get Notiv to a point where early customers really love it.

“We’re focusing on delighting our customer,” he says.

“We want them to love the product,” Raethke adds.

“We want them to get time back from investing in and using the product.”

In the next year or so, the co-founders will be focusing on integration, working with partners and customers to make sure Notiv works with users’ existing platforms as seamlessly as possible.

“The best marketing is always happy users,” Raethke explains.

The aim is to impress initial users, who will tell their partners about the product, creating a network effect.

“We really want to double down on that aspect,” he adds.

Don’t forget the details

Both founders of Notiv have startup success stories behind them, and some words of wisdom for others.

“You need to be strategic, have your vision, and know what the big picture is — but don’t forget the details,” McCowan says.

Founders have to have a “split vision”, he explains, simultaneously aiming big and focusing on their long-term goals, and also prioritising “having a sustainable business in the meantime”.

Raethke advises early-stage founders to “make sure you get good at going slow before you try to go fast”.

For Notiv, for example, the plan is to take on a handful of customers and support them well, while “figuring out the kinks”, before embarking on an aggressive expansion plan.

“Understand what is important for you to get good at,” he advises.

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