#23: Raising $19 Million in Funding After 5 Pivots For His AI Startup w/ Krish Ramineni, Co-Founder and CEO of Fireflies AI

Hello! I’m Julian and I’m a Gen Z entrepreneur, software engineer, and podcaster. I am the fusion of an ambitious entrepreneur, a tech whiz, a futurist, a productivity aficionado, and a self-improvement junkie.
I am currently the Co-Founder & CEO at Mindflow (https://apple.co/3QFdPlE). Previously, I was the co-founder & CTO at Vize and worked as a Software Engineer at Meta, LinkedIn, and Goldman Sachs.

“Entrepreneurship is a constant process of perseverance. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t have persistence, it doesn’t matter because you could make it almost all the way, realize you haven’t made it, and then leave.”

– Krish Ramineni

How can you capture the knowledge buried inside conversations and convert them into actions?

After graduating early from UPenn in 2015, Krish Ramineni dove headfirst into Microsoft as a Product Manager. Krish enjoyed his job and he was learning a lot but he realized that he was making incremental improvements to existing products instead of being truly innovative and building new products. When graduate school at Cambridge was right around the corner a year later, a fateful meeting with Sam Udotong (current Co-founder and CTO) led him to tinker around. Together they build the foundation for Fireflies AI: an AI note-taking assistant for your meetings.

Fireflies raised $14M in their series A round and $5m in their seed round. Krish Ramineni and Sam Udotong recently made in on Forbes 30 Under 30.

Fireflies went through at least 5 pivots before finding product-market fit and Krish and Sam both lives on pizza and soylent for over a year before building something that could attract the attention of investors.

“If you are going to fail, fail fast, get the data on it, learn from it, and then go on to your next experiment. Life is a sequence of failures and when you fail many, many times, you’re getting smarter to hopefully do the right thing the next time.”

– Krish Ramineni

💬 Discussed in this episode…

● [0:27] Krish’s leap from Microsoft PM into entrepreneurship
● [2:21] Krish’s “why” for entrepreneurship
● [4:46] Why starting a startup is like walking through a desert
● [7:44] Why Krish optimizes for learning and not comfort
● [9:53] How Fireflies AI pivoted 4 or 5 times
● [11:59] Why Krish didn’t give up after not finding product-market fit
● [13:52] The risk of falling into your ego when you’re in the wrong problem space
● [14:08] Krish’s framework for knowing when to pivot or persevere
● [18:31] What Fireflies AI is and how it works
● [21:13] The problem Fireflies AI is solving
● [24:57] The company’s product vision for the next decade
● [28:07] Krish’s most valuable principles for building products
● [29:41] How Krish determines the right metrics in managing products
● [32:54] The importance of execution and moving fast in a startup
● [35:39] Why building systems is so important
● [37:52] Where to learn more about Krish and Fireflies AI

❗ What PROBLEM is Fireflies AI solving?

Approximately 40% of our time is spent in meetings daily, but that knowledge is rarely captured in an efficient and reusable manner. We also speak an average of 150 words/minute, but write approximately 50 words/minute. Meetings are often not easily transferrable to output.

Moreover, how do you extract value from an audio recording or transcript? What if you want to pluck only the action items, important dates, or metrics discussed? Whether you’re preparing to sit down with competitors, investors, or your internal team, extensive manual effort is required to condense a meeting into digestible, high-value morsels.

🛠️ What is Fireflies AI’s SOLUTION?

Imagine summarizing an hour-long meeting in five minutes by using an AI that can guess which parts of the conversation are the most important.

Fireflies AI is an AI meeting assistant that joins your meetings across Zoom, WebEx, Skype, Google Meet and all other video conferencing platforms. Not only does it take notes, summarizes the meeting and transcribes it at extremely high accuracy levels, it creates a knowledge base of meeting content. Their AI tool intelligently extracts value out of the recordings, allowing you to easily navigate the most crucial parts of the phone call.

Moreover, with their integrations and workflows, the assistant automatically inputs information into other applications and systems and even can send recaps to Slack. This automates tedious post-meeting work so employees can focus their energy on curating rich and meaningful conversations.

Fireflies AI’s mission is to “transform conversations into actions.”

🚀 What is Fireflies AI’s VISION?

To automate work from the sound of your voice. After capturing knowledge from your audio, Fireflies AI will help automate work from that knowledge.

For example, imaging creating an Asana task, filling out a CRM and doing email follow-ups related to this project milestone all with your voice during meetings. Once all repetitive, manual work with low complexity levels can be automated, companies can harness the power of speed in making decisions that ultimately lead to progress and innovation.

Essentially, Fireflies AI will maximize efficiency from conversations taken in the workplace.

💣 3 Value Bombs

💥 1. Building a startup is like walking through a desert without a map. You have limited supplies and no map to guide you toward the “promise land.” To overcome the endless sandstorms, you have to grasp onto iron-hard persistence and leverage your obnoxious optimism in the early stages to push you through the hardest parts. And once you are halfway through the desert it becomes harder to turn back than to keep pushing forward.
💥 2. Naval Ravikant says there are 3 fundamental pillars to success in entrepreneurship: 1. Working on the right thing. 2. Working with a great group of people. 3. How hard you work and execute. No matter how hard you work though, you will never be able to brute force product-market-fit. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on ads to attract customers. If there is no market for the product you’re building or users don’t want to pay to use your product, your startup will never succeed.
💥 3. Is your product/service a vitamin or a painkiller? Painkillers make billions and vitamins will go out of style. Entrepreneurial success often requires constant adjustments and iterations. Don’t be afraid to pivot as necessary. Krish and Sam pivoted 5 times until they found product-market fit.

Product Management isn’t about shipping features. It’s about moving metrics, solving user problems, and delighting the end user

– Krish Ramineni

📚 People & Resources Mentioned 

● Naval Ravikant
● Keith Ferrazzi

📱 Socials

● Krish Ramineni’s LinkedIn
● Krish Ramineni’s Instagram
● Krish Ramineni’s Twitter
● Fireflies’ Website
● Fireflies’ LinkedIn
● Fireflies’ Instagram
● Fireflies’ Twitter

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Episode 23