Two-and-a-half year old startup TimeBridge is launching its flagship scheduling product today, and it’s a product that shines with simplicity.
Plenty of internet startups have made a business out of saving time for busy professionals. TimeBridge’s niche is cutting down the time it takes to schedule meetings. It’s product, Personal Scheduling Manager, works on reaching consensus through a straightforward visual interface, a clear improvement over the process of emailing back and forth between all a meeting’s participants that most organizers use.
Here’s how it works: The program, which is a small download for Microsoft Outlook users or a web app for Google adherents, syncs with the user’s calendar to show which time slots are open. The user, who we’ll assume is initiating the meeting, can then highlight blocks of time that would be acceptable for a meeting.
Invitations are then sent off to the other participants, who can see all the times the organizer has available and choose their own set of open time slots. Through a process of elimination, the times that other participants can’t make it to a meeting are ruled out, and a confirmation for the best time is sent out to everyone.
TimeBridge’s CEO, Yori Nelken, says it took two years to build the product, a claim that’s hard to believe in light of how quick and simple it is to use. But that’s what a good web app does — fits in seamlessly with a user’s life, then stays out of the way as much as possible.
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One caution — we’ve been skeptical before that yet another scheduling company might have a chance to make it. TimeBridge is clearly an additional feature for calendars, not an entire stand-alone product. If anything it’s the fragmentation of the market, with different users going to Outlook, Google, or their PDA for their calendar, that provides an opening for another service to tie them together for users.
The company plans to make money by making deals with other business programs, for instance, suggesting a web conferencing program to users who plan on holding a remote meeting. It could also offer a white-label version of its Personal Scheduling Manager to interested companies.