Ever wish during an early morning virtual meeting that you were forced to attend that you could be in two places at the same time? Impossible you say? Not according to Peter Solimine who created an app called Beulr (pronounced Bueller, as in movie character Ferris Bueller) that he pitched on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank during an episode that aired last night.
Beulr creates the illusion that you’re attending a virtual meeting when you’re actually doing something else
The website app (which is designed to work intuitively on a mobile browser) will create the illusion that you’re attending a Zoom meeting even if you are sleeping in, or just hanging around, While it will log in as a guest by default, it does give you the option to authenticate your Zoom credentials so that your name shows up on an attendance list.
The trick is that Beulr will appear for you during your virtual Zoom meeting via a looped video that you’ve created showing that you’re paying attention to the meeting. Since the video is looped, it doesn’t need to be lengthy. Because the bot uses the cloud, you don’t even need to have your computer running during the meeting.
As pointed out during the Shark Tank appearance, if you are asked a question during the virtual meeting, there is nothing that you can do about it, at least for now. Solimine mentioned using AI to eventually allow the video to respond to queries. However, Mark Cuban pointed out how expensive that would be.
So far Beulr has been used on over 97,000 meetings saving these users 1,095 hours. Right now, the website is considered an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which means that it offers just enough features to attract early users who provide feedback to make the product grow.
Beulr gets funding at 16 times the valuation that the Sharks passed on
While the Sharks seemed to like the idea, they also were concerned about the optics of investing in it. And as Mr. Wonderful Kevin O’ Leary pointed out, sometimes attendance is mandatory with a Zoom meeting. Laurie Greiner added that the integrity issue bothered her and wondered whether a user could get into trouble for using Beulr. In fact, that seemed to be the major reason why all four Sharks dropped out.
Not that the Sharks always make the right move. You might have heard of the Ring line of video doorbells and other products that Amazon purchased for a price reported to be between $1.2 to $1.8 billion. But when pitched in the Shark Tank under the name Door Bot, the Sharks passed on the idea.
But don’t shed a tear for Beulr. We reached out to Peter and he told us that the company just received $700K in preseed funding at a rate that gives the company a $12 million valuation or 16 times the valuation he asked the Sharks for. As for a mobile app, he wrote that while on the roadmap, it is not a focus right now.