The rise of AI-powered productivity tools is one of the biggest success stories in the digital workspace era. From streamlining tedious tasks to increasing an employee’s overall focus, this tech breakthrough has positively impacted a multitude of industries in more ways than one.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Itzik Ben Bassat, Co-Founder and CEO at theGist, a leading global productivity AI company. Just recently, their team launched their flagship product – a unified workspace powered by AI that creates a radical personalized focus on what’s most important.
Omri: Itzik, thank you so much for coming. So, tell us a little bit about theGist and what got you to do this.
Itzik: The person that came up with the idea is my partner, Itay Dressler, and he was the VP of Engineering in a company that Nir Zohar, theGist’s third Co-Founder, and I had invested in very early on. Later on, Insight became an investor.
As Itay was working there, he was facing all these problems that are coming up, because the world changed so much in the last 15 years – from a world where we work mainly through our email to a world where every vertical is working through a different SaaS tool. The average company has more than 50 tools that they’re deploying in their stack. So he started noticing that there was just a lot of miscommunication going on where things would fall between the cracks and there would be too much noise.
Then, he gave me a call. I was with Nir in New York at the time and described the general solution that he thinks he can build. Both Nir and I liked it very much and felt like it was something that can work. And the next move was to call Tal Slobodkin from StageOne Ventures, who used to be with Cisco. I remember he was dealing with ERPs and knowledge bases for organizations and so on, and I wanted to hear his opinion. And his first response to me was “Don’t do it.” But when Itay started describing the technological solution that we have for the problem, he became a believer and said “Let’s do it,” committed to being the first investor, and that’s how theGist started.
Omri: What industry gaps does theGist bridge?
Itzik: We knew that we wanted to solve the problem of knowledge in the organization. We knew that people are working on things that they shouldn’t work on, and employees are not aware of the things that are going on in the organization. We have multiple examples from the various companies that we were involved in. We interviewed a lot of different companies, employees, and executives to understand the extent of the problem, and we were convinced that the problem exists. We later found research studies showing that about 40% of employees’ productivity is going to waste because of context switching.
But the reason we launched theGist for Slack was completely different – it was a growth hack. What we also noticed was that it was very difficult for people to imagine how AI works in the workspace and actually helps them. So we went for the lowest hanging fruit and that’s Slack communication. We wanted people in companies to see that they can really use AI for their benefit. Today, theGist for Slack is being used by thousands of companies, with very high retention in comparison to any SaaS tool that I’m aware of.
Omri: And then the next step was integrating it on Gmail?
Itzik: Yes, that was an experiment we ran. We wanted to see how 2 tools work together. We knew that a lot of internal communication is being done by Slack, but then there are still a lot of things that still need to be done by Gmail, and we wanted to see what happens when we combine the 2. With keeping the integrity of both tools, which is extremely important to us, we wanted to see what happens when we start deploying AI tools on emails – aggregating them, summarizing them, and helping people with the extent of noise that they deal with every day.
Omri: Now, the next stage is theGist’s ultimate workspace product – can you talk about that?
Itzik: At this stage, we decided to focus on the person. We’re laser-focused on the employee, their needs, and what’s important to them. For us, what’s important is that the right information will go to the right employee at the right time and help them do their job. That’s the reason we called it theGist.
Omri: What’s the USP of your solution compared to other big players?
Itzik: Speed is one of our advantages. It was clear to us that all the vertical tools would have a great AI solution integrated into them at some point, but we knew it was not gonna be faster than how we do it.
We wanted to test things, understand things, and build our brand to prove to people that AI can help them in the workspace, and there was no easier way to do that but to go to one of the tools that we like the most: Slack. It was a great way for us to build something quickly and demonstrate how we can help people, knowing very well that our interest is in the overall cross-app AI. That’s our focus. And that’s the reason why we immediately added Gmail after that.