'Everything will run better': Fellow's Aydin Mirzaee a man on a mission

Fellow founders
From left, Aydin Mirzaee, Sam Cormier-Iijima and Amin Mirzaee are the founders of Fellow Insights, an Ottawa software firm that recently landed US$24 million in venture capital. Photo courtesy Fellow Insights

Aydin Mirzaee’s agenda is clear: he wants his Ottawa-based firm’s meeting management software to become an indispensable tool for companies around the world.

The co-founder and CEO of Fellow Insights is on a mission to make meetings a path to productivity rather than a trial to be endured. He says his company’s tools – which aim to make everything from one-on-ones to quarterly reviews more efficient by suggesting topics, crafting more focused agendas and offering feedback to help future gatherings run smoother – is alleviating a pain point that plagues virtually every business on the planet.

“We think in five years every organization in the world will use meeting productivity software,” Mirzaee says. “We just want to accelerate that.”

As it presses the gas pedal on its global expansion drive, Fellow now has a lot more horsepower under the hood after recently raising $US24 million in series-A financing.

While the firm still has plenty of cash in the bank from an $8.75-million seed round two years ago, Mirzaee says the new round led by San Francisco’s Craft Ventures will allow it to double down on product development and boost its sales and customer support teams as it looks to cement its status as the star performer in its field.

"We were already the leading player in this space, but we really saw an opportunity to just go out and become the category owner."

“We were already the leading player in this space, but we really saw an opportunity to just go out and become the category owner,” he says.

Fellow is closing in on 1,000 customers, which include publicly traded tech companies Shopify, HubSpot and Lemonade. The software can also be found in Chick-fil-A restaurants, churches and even a Swedish kindergarten, Mirzaee notes, adding virtually any business with multiple employees stands to benefit from the platform.

“Everybody has meetings,” he says. “It’s crazy to think that up until now there hasn’t been a product that actually helps make sure that all those meetings are an effective use of time.”

Fellow’s growing list of believers includes Craft Ventures partner Lainy Painter, who started using the software about a year ago and was so impressed she decided to put her money where her mouth was.

Painter said the platform is the kind of product that “spreads virally” throughout organizations as managers extoll its virtues to their colleagues.

“Meeting management has emerged as a critical thing to get right – for managers to stay sane and for teams to optimize productivity,” she said in an email to OBJ.

Mirzaee says Fellow has been steadily gaining momentum during the pandemic as managers look for ways to alleviate “Zoom fatigue” in the new era of seemingly endless virtual get-togethers. 

Fourfold revenue growth

The firm’s revenues are on pace to quadruple this year compared with 2020, and its customer count has more than tripled. Now at 40 employees, Fellow expects that number to double over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, the platform has continued to evolve, adding features that help managers track employee progress and set project requirements. It can also be integrated into products such as workplace communications platform Slack and customer management software Workforce.

Mirzaee says the company’s ultimate goal is to create an “all-in-one” tool to help customers get the most out of their teams.

“We start by helping you run better meetings, but then we extend into helping you manage your team better and as a result manage your company better,” Mirzaee explains. “Everything will run better.”

Mirzaee launched Fellow three years ago with his brother Amin and their friend Sam Cormier-Iijima after selling his previous venture, online survey company Fluidware, to SurveyMonkey for more than US$50 million. 

Fellow’s first customer was none other than Ottawa’s biggest software darling, Shopify, which agreed to act as a sort of test lab for the software’s development. It didn’t take long before word spread that the new company with the powerful e-commerce ally was on to something.

“To get them as a first customer is basically I think the best thing that could happen to a startup,” Mirzaee says of Shopify. “Because they use the product, so many other companies have also wanted to operate the way that Shopify operates. We’ve definitely benefited a lot from that.”