Founded by Ateneo Students, This Filipino Scheduling Startup Is Saving Users Time and Money
ILLUSTRATOR KARL BELTRAN
We’ve heard stories about the hyper-productive kids of Gen Z, but this one might just take the cake. From the generation known for being serial interns and Coursera achievers, a group of Ateneo de Manila University undergrads came together to found their own startup: a scheduling software app called MeetBit capable of giving you more time and doubling your productivity.
Founded by university students Lance Villacin and Kirsten Marini Sy during the pandemic, MeetBit comes at a time of peak productivity culture online, when Google Calendar hacks, Notion tutorials, and aesthetic desk setups have taken over YouTube and social media. It fits that the team behind MeetBit would birth this startup in college when students spend half of their time meeting for projects and thesis discussions. It was precisely these meetings that inspired the concept of MeetBit, which automatically schedules meetings for teams by finding your mutual free time.
What is Meetbit?
In an interview with Start Up Podcast PH, co-founder and chief product officer Kirsten Sy shared that it takes an average of 58 minutes just to filter through everyone’s calendars and schedule one meeting manually. Meetbit cuts that time by 57.9 minutes, taking just seconds to overlay multiple calendars, find free time, and create a meeting link.
“[MeetBit] is a desktop app that you can download from the internet and run on your Windows or Mac machine. It connects to your existing calendars like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook so that it syncs all your calendars, [allowing] you to get invites and send invites. It’s also connected to Zoom and all other video conferencing tools in general,” explained co-founder and CEO Lance Villacin to Esquire.
“We basically 'ask' Google or Microsoft about how your calendar looks right now. And then we overlay those together into a single view.”
Once this is done, MeetBit’s algorithms work to find the time when everyone is free. Once a time is found, the user can create a link for that meeting and send it to colleagues right away, or you can search your team’s schedules to find your preferred time. According to Villacin, the team has rebuilt and iterated its complex system countless times until they arrived at where they are now. Finding common time might seem simple when you’re using printed calendars, but doing so online is another matter altogether.
“Trying to find a time when you're looking at multiple calendars overlaid and looking for free time is very easy to do visually because you can see it. But trying to do it mathematically or if you're trying to compute it, it actually takes a lot of computations. So that does take a lot of time for us as we develop it,” explained Villacin.
But for all the time the team spent on MeetBit, it’s saving its users countless—priceless—time from using its platform.
“In general, Meetbit really is just trying to help you get rid of the problem of scheduling. Scheduling is something that we all have to do, but in reality, it’s not actually the important part of your job. It’s actually jumping in the call and having that discussion,” said Villacin. “What we're really just trying to do is help you focus on the things that matter. As much as it's important to get that meeting scheduled, spending time trying to get that meeting schedule isn't a good way to spend your time.”
The Start of MeetBit
Time, however, is something the team behind MeetBit has plenty of. The startup first began when Lance, who has recently graduated, was only a third-year student at Ateneo de Manila University studying BS in Information Technology Entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, his co-founder Kirsten was only a sophomore at Ateneo. At the moment, about half of the team is still finishing their degrees in Ateneo, while the fresh grads like Lance are now working full-time with MeetBit.
The startup actually began when Lance and Kirsten met at their school’s startup organization, and after spending some time around startups, the two figured, “Why not start our own?” Like most amazing ideas, the concept of a scheduling solution came up in a group chat. Lance noted how difficult it was for students to find free time to meet up for a project. If students were having this hard of a time, what more employees in marketing or HR?
With a problem identified, the duo then worked toward the solution, asking the pivotal question, “What if you could send a single message, and you'll get the time when everyone's free right away? And so that's really where Meetbit started.”
MeetBit lets you connect unlimited calendars per person for free, find a common time that works for everyone, create up to three booking links, and collate all of these calendars and links in one place. While it was an innovative solution, the team quickly realized that, while students wouldn’t (or couldn't) pay for the service, companies would. Now, this student-founded startup’s platform is used by companies like Draper Startup House, Sven, Workbean, and more.
Where It’s Going Now
MeetBit completed its pre-seed funding round back in December, securing investments from Buko Ventures and the Manila Angel Investors Network. And with Buko Ventures, which has invested in startups like AcadArena and BackScoop, MeetBit’s young founders have met fellow tech founders who are guiding them through the startup journey.
For now, the founders are focused on achieving the numbers and metrics they want before they go on to their seed round. As for MeetBit, the platform, the team hopes that users will see the potential that effective calendar scheduling can have on productivity.
“What we see MeetBit doing in the future is [encouraging users to see] your calendar as your base of operations,” said Villacin. The founder noted that a lot of people tend to start their day without a strict schedule, browsing through their emails and figuring out which one to reply to next. But MeetBit’s vision is one that puts the calendar first and as the focal point for a day’s productivity.
“For us, the calendar is a way for you to know the next thing you’re going to do, and you can time block: reply to emails this time, jump on a meeting, prepare for my next meeting, and just have all of the necessary notes, files, and boards you need for each task that you're going to do.”
As for the future of the team, another item to be checked off the list is graduating. Even though the startup has already been established, it’s still important for the undergraduate members to get their degree, although they might have learned more from MeetBit than any org or class.
“College helps you work on your career,” said Villacin, ”I'm already working on my career now.”
For any students with big ideas who might be hesitant to launch a startup like Villacin and Sy, Lance has just this to say: “The best time to start is now. And you'll never know unless you try. There is a lot you don't know, but you do learn them as you go. It’s the best time to take a risk this big [because] you don't have dependents, you don't need to provide for your family, you don’t need to pay for a house. If [the startup] fails, then there's not much of a big impact. In a sense, the only impact you will have done is that you know why you failed and you know how you can prevent it in the future.”
When faced with the question “Should or should I not start a startup?” the answer is simple. Give it a try.