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Juggling appointments

Andreas Adamides, an Executive MBA graduate of Cambridge Judge Business School (EMBA 2009), developed CatchApp to enable busy people to arrange their calendars easily.

Colleagues chatting.
Andreas Adamides.
Andreas Adamides

Having successfully launched the eCommerce company BuyQuick in Australia in 1998, Andreas Adamides found himself facing a nice dilemma: after growing the business to 10 countries and 70,000 products, he found that he often had to juggle 20 or more meetings and phone calls in his diary every week.

When it took him almost two months to schedule two days of meetings at a conference in Berlin, Andreas searched for a technology that would solve his problem – something that would simplify schedule-arranging across multiple time zones and do away with overlapping emails.

So after landing in Cambridge to start his Executive MBA programme, Andreas (EMBA 2009) got together with Cambridge Judge colleagues to develop CatchApp, a mobile app venture that sorts out busy diaries.

“My time at Cambridge Judge reinforced the need for effective and productive meetings,” said Andreas. “So it was a shock when I found myself struggling and wasting time I knew I didn’t have.

“The Executive MBA seemed perfect for me for a number of reasons. It exposed me to a very diverse group of individuals, which helped me become a more well-rounded business person, and gave me new experiences that helped broaden my horizons. Among other things, one of the key learnings for me during the EMBA was learning how to operate in a more data-based and analytical approach, rather than mostly on instinct.”

Combining his experience in building successful technology companies with his Executive MBA skills, Andreas decided that tackling the massive meetings issue faced by an estimated 240 million of the busiest professionals around the world was his next entrepreneurial challenge. 

Andreas commissioned a group of talented Cambridge Judge Business School MBA students to research the scale of the issue and the potential of the business, by undertaking a two-month consulting project (CVP).

The research revealed that:

  • The majority of working professionals cannot rely on help from a personal assistant to organise their meetings schedule. 
  • Thirty per cent of professionals have to schedule more than five meetings a week, taking more than two hours of their time.
  • Professionals in meeting-heavy sectors, such as sales, recruitment, venture capital and management consultancy, report spending more than four hours a week organising their meetings and calls.

After inviting Cambridge alumnus and experienced app developer Oliver Lamming to join him as CTO, Andreas and his team launched the CatchApp mobile app to transform the way busy people schedule and coordinate meetings and improve their personal productivity.

Andreas also approached and attracted two other fellow Cambridge Judge alumni to join CatchApp: Emmanuel Carraud (MBA 2008), an experienced mobile apps marketer who is helping on a part-time basis as the company’s acting CMO, and Dr Markus Harder (PhD 2008), who raised over $200 million for companies such as SoundCloud and Contentful, as CatchApp’s acting CFO.

CatchApp is gaining traction and some early wins. One of the most exciting was when Apple featured CatchApp in October 2019 as “App of the Day” on the US App Store, resulting in a 13,000 per cent increase in downloads.

“We’re not just solving a meeting-scheduling problem, we’re solving a major productivity problem – not only for individuals but for the overall economy. If every busy professional could reclaim more than two hours or more of their work week, the world’s productivity gap would be solved,” Andreas says.

CatchApp enables users to share selected availability for a meeting or a call with their invitees. It can handle juggling dozens of meetings in the same week without the risk of double-booking. CatchApp makes it fast to share multiple times to meet for either a business or a personal catch-up. CatchApp is free to download on iOS and on Microsoft 365 with unlimited invites.

Given the explosion of home working and videoconferencing due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, Andreas says that CatchApp has seen a spike in usage and plans to launch a browser-based video call scheduling service.

The venture’s website says the app makes it 10 times faster to schedule meetings, and Andreas says this is because whereas traditional calendars send out only one time slot to invitees, CatchApp users can share a number of times simultaneously so one time can be accepted.

The venture’s business model counts on power users to upgrade the current free service to a subscription version, and the company also aims to release chargeable versions for such power users, large companies and SMEs.

One of the biggest challenges for any startup can be fundraising, but with effective meeting scheduling a necessity for every business and professional, CatchApp soon caught the attention of some high-profile backers. These include fellow alumnus Matthew Eyton-Jones (GMP 2009, ALP 2013), CEO of the CERN Pension Fund and one of the top ten public investors in global rankings, and Matt Cooper, Chairman of Octopus Investments.

CatchApp was awarded a UK Innovation Grant in 2019 which has accelerated the development of its technology.

“The most important elements of a meeting are the relationships you build – the problems you solve and what you all achieve together,” says Andreas. “With a little scheduling genius, CatchApp makes organising that meeting not only super-efficient and quick, but also a joy.”

Andreas is interested in hearing from…

…Large companies interested in pilot tests, and potential investors.