My name is Pedro Serrano, and I’m the Founder and Managing Partner for CAVEDIGITAL, the developers behind BOARD MEETING.
I’ve started my own software development company, back in the year 2000, while I was still in college, at the age of 21, with no venture capital other than my own €5k, on my parents’ basement, in Portugal. I named it CAVEDIGITAL (which means «digital basement» in portuguese) and, as any young entrepreneur that knows nothing about life, gosh, the first years were really tough. I had to learn about taxes, social security, accounting, sales, human resources management, project management, and whatever else is required to keep a company running.
I’d been freelancing since I was 14. No one said building a company was easy. But most people don’t imagine how brutal it really is.
In time, and as the company was able to attract more and more business, I started to hire our first employees, and soon got to learn about the worst and the best in people. I was rapidly exposed to horrid unethical actions by some, and extreme commitment and super human kindness and support by others. Boy, did I had to grow fast as a human being. For the good and the bad, my gratitude to all of them is eternal – I learned a lot.
I’m not ashamed of my, and of my company, background. In fact, I’m humbly proud of it, if I may join those two words on the same sentence.
We’re out of the basement for roughly a decade now, on our office.
WHAT DRIVES ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS AN INSATIABLE DESIRE TO CHANGE THE WORLD
I have a strong belief that what drives entrepreneurship is an insatiable desire to change the World, and still today, that’s where I find momentum. In this pursuit, it soon became obvious to me that you have a better chance at that if you empower those steering Organizations, those leading, by giving them better tools to do their job better. If they’re better at deciding, Organizations get better outcomes, and that is likely to result in more jobs, more wealth, more sustainability, more transparency and accountability.
So I dwelled upon how I could improve the quality of life-in-job for these leaders, specially, to these collective leaders – Boards and Councils – and how could I free these people from paper, from time consuming tasks, so their minds could be free to do what they do best – Lead.
So it hit me in the summer of 2005: find a way to support Board of Directors and other collective decision makers, such as Councils, Assemblies and Business Partners, to be able to conduct decision making processes and board meetings in a paperless, transparent and agile fashion.
NO ONE WOULD GUESS HOW HUGE IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
I started researching and interviewing Board Members, Chairmen and Councillors. I was astonished – no one would guess how huge is the environmental footprint just on decision making processes. I could just imagine tons of wood logs passing by those board rooms on each board meeting…
And the amount of work hours put into photocopying and other paper pushing tasks… obscene. Huge respect for these people – they were/are still able to take decisions navigating on tons of paper, every single week.
I had to do something about this.
BOARD MEETING ENTERPRISE WAS BORN AND I WAS SO PROUD OF MY PEOPLE
Following on that, I mobilized my company to this saga, we got the first prototype out there and in early 2007 we had the first customer, the City of Porto, conducting paperless decision making processes and Council meetings – CAVEDIGITAL BOARD MEETING Enterprise was born and I was so proud of my people. City Council officials from all over the World were visiting the City of Porto to see how they were conducting paperless Council meetings.
This caught Microsoft attention really fast and, in partnership with 2 more companies, we’ve founded Microsoft Citizen Services Platform, a roughly-3-years worldwide initiative for driving Public Sector modernization, where BOARD MEETING played its part.
SAVING A LOT OF TREES, A LOT OF WORK HOURS AND ADDING HUGE GAINS ON AGILITY
As the years went by, BOARD MEETING continued to attract awards and new customers, saving a lot of trees (ranging from 30 to hundreds of trees per year depending on the customer size), a lot of work hours (I recall this customer where they would spend roughly 7300 work hours per year just pushing the photocopying button to provision council meetings) and adding huge gains on agility (i.e.: board meetings going from 4 hours long to 25 minutes).
THE AVERAGE RETURN ON INVESTMENT IS ATTAINED IN A MATTER OF MONTHS
Crunch that, and the average return on investment is attained in a matter of months, and that is a powerful value proposition. The quality of the documentation improves drastically, since there’s no more time lost on physical paper pushing… And all those secretaries not needing to be working on a minutes document up until 4 a.m. … Priceless.
But again, what drives entrepreneurship is an insatiable desire to change the World, and last year I felt we needed to take it up a notch, and so I dwelled upon again.
On every bit of my free time I was researching, obsessing on how we could have more impact, reach more Boards, save more Organizations from the paper doom, rescue more of people’s time…
ONE OF THE MOST COMMON CAUSES FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP FAILURE IS BUSINESS PARTNERS CONFLICT
While researching, I found out something that shocked me – it’s obvious so, but I would never expect it to be so pronounced … One of the most common causes for entrepreneurship failure is business partners conflict, in lain terms, not getting along – partnerships that go south really-ugly-really-fast because of agreements and decisions not being outlined, crystal clear transparent and easy to revisit. This is amongst the top 10 reasons why small businesses fail.
Most small and medium sized companies’ business partners are taking decisions just shaking hands. At the first sign of conflict, there is no way of bringing out the previous decisions and agreements and reviewing it together. Naturally, things can rapidly turn into an exchange of arguments based on each other’s dynamic memory and at the moment perception. Partnerships can go sour, go south, really ugly and really fast.
Can you imagine the emotional scar of building a company for years and have it wrecked in a matter of days because someone «didn’t get it»?
Then, it struck me in the summer of 2012 – we should make it possible so that any company or Organization worldwide should have, at least, the basics to avoid this. Again, I put my money where my mind was, and mobilized my company to create a cloud version of BOARD MEETING, that people worldwide could subscribe to and use as a service. This would allow for more scale, and hence, allowing this technology to be available also to smaller Organizations everywhere, in a self-service, affordable and timely manner, with no technical skills required.
The dream was clear: any Chairman, Board Member, Business Partner, Mayor, Councilor, you name it, should be able to pick this, set-up his/her Board and be good to go. And we have resiliently pursued this vision up until now – we’ve release it to the World. It’s out there.
We worked really hard on building this piece of software engineering and user interface thoughtful design, but we’re not stopping there. We will keep adding functionality and improvements on a planned and consistent manner, to keep enhancing our users experience and productivity.
Understand that we’re just starting on this new chapter for BOARD MEETING. We’ve laid out the foundations for what will come next.
I am so proud of my people.
UNDERSTAND THAT WE’RE JUST STARTING ON THIS NEW CHAPTER FOR BOARD MEETING. WE’VE LAID OUT THE FOUNDATIONS FOR WHAT WILL COME NEXT.
This is our humble contribution to help to improve the World, to change the World – to provide our children a better place to live in, more sustainable, with companies and Organizations that are healthy and wealthy enough to provide jobs where they will work in. To stop us from making the same mistakes we’ve done in the past, over and over again. And we’re not stopping here. While continuing to execute our roadmap, we will keep adding features that’ll bring it nearer to this goal: drive better collective decision making.
At launch, we’re putting our money where our mouth is, and with the launch of BOARD MEETING Cloud, we’re announcing a FREE Surface RT* to the first customer purchasing a BOARD MEETING Cloud subscription. Also, we’re offering a 25% discount to the first 25 customers using this promotional code: 25LAUNCH .
Be the first and get a Surface RT for free.
So, again, at launch:
- We’re offering one Surface RT* device to our first BOARD MEETING Cloud customer.
- And we’re offering a 25% discount to the first 25 customers who subscribe our service using the «25LAUNCH» promo code.
I would like to invite you to try out our app and its service.
You can download it on the Windows Store here: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/app/8c60f818-adbf-46f1-bc73-b8f677651b84
The Official website is: http://www.cavedigital.com/bmt8/
Besides this blog, we’re also on Facebook and Twitter, where we publish regular updates on what’s new, what we’re up to and about future developments.
Here’s a brief feature description:
CAVEDIGITAL Board Meeting app for Windows 8 provides a clean natural touch interface for your board meetings and proposals allowing for an agile and mobile Board Member experience.
CAVEDIGITAL Board Meeting Cloud is an online service that supports the business processes for higher management decision taking and board/council meetings, allowing for greater agility in the decision-taking process and the subtraction of all paper documentation related with it, eliminating the physical clutter, the logistics and resource consumption associated with it.
SELF-SERVICE WITH NO EFFORT:
Download the app from the Windows Store;
Set up your Board with a 30 day trial;
…and you’re good to go.
- Secure high-bit SSL Encryption communication.
- Offline mode supported. While on the go, you can browse your pre-loaded information.
- Data stored geo-redundantly.
- Almost a decade of proven experience providing Board Meeting modernization to Enterprise
- Customers (Public & Private Sectors).
- Navigate your board meetings with touch using a natural and intuitive timeline.
- Browse seamlessly the meeting agenda with access to board members and proposals one tap away.
- Keep up with the meeting agenda progress as proposals get approved and rejected.
- Minutes Document is generated automatically for you when the meeting is closed.
- Easily create, edit and navigate your proposals from the proposals collection.
- Create no sweat beautifully crafted proposals, easy to read and include attachments.
- See in detail what was the decision on a proposal after your careful deliberation.
- Support is always one email away. Focus on leading, we got your back.
- Skype calls to proposal authors and other Board Members a tap away.
Humbly, I hope you like our work and ask that you please help us share the word.
Do feel free to reach out and send your questions, keep in touch or just say «hi».
(*) INCLUDES U.S. BLACK TOUCH COVER. AVAILABLE ONLY TO A LEGAL RESIDENT OF A COUNTRY WITHOUT SANCTIONS IN FORCE BY THE EUROPEAN UNION. CAVEDIGITAL WILL ONLY COVER FOR SHIPPING PAYMENT. CAVEDIGITAL IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CUSTOMS CHARGES.