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Grain

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Intro

When covid hit the world, the world moved online. And so did our communication. Some recently launched communication platforms like Zoom skyrocketed. Together with existing video call apps like Hangout, they became the new norm. These days even my mum uses Zoom to attend yoga classes.

That's when apps built on top of video calls apps like Zoom and Google landed.

Building on a third party ecosystem is tough. You’re limited by the platform capabilities. I know that first hand because we experienced this problem when we built a Figma tracking plugin.

This may have a huge negative impact on the kind of experiences you can build.

However, one product managed to keep that magic while building on Zoom, it's called Grain. Let's see why.

Vision

At Grain, we believe that human connectedness begins by actively listening to others with the intent to share understanding with them. If it were as easy to capture, copy, and share important moments from live conversations as it is to type a message, we could connect more easily to the message instead of being distracted by the messenger. So this is exactly what we decided to build and we’re just getting started. - Mike and Jake Adam - cofounders

Product

Grain is a tool that lets you transcript, organize and share video calls you had in Zoom or Google Hangout.

The product can be useful for a broad set of use cases, for instance for:

Founders: share the important moments, reduce the need for note-taking

Research: Improve empathy and inclusiveness

Sales: understand prospects better with a central library of sales demos

HR: improve the interview experience by not repeating yourself

Building a horizontal product like Grain can be challenging, so let’s see how Grain did that.

Recording

The "thing" Grain needs from you is an access to your Zoom or Hangout accounts.

You would thing this is a big ask? It's not, it's actually quite frictionless. Grain uses the same permission to sign up (or log in) than the one to access your video calls.

For instance if you use Zoom you can log in with Zoom. This means granting permissions only once.

ScreenshotScreenshot

Once connected, Grain lets you pick how you want to record calls. It can be all your calls, or you can cherry pick them. This is nice but could be nicer. I would appreciate to have a way to add Grain from Google calendar directly (chrome extension).

Screenshot

Transcript

As soon as your meeting ends, your recording lands in your library.

You can edit the transcript, add notes, and even clarify the speakers names:

Highlights

Once you have a transcript you can highlight part of it.

Highlights let you break down and share bits of your video calls. They’re the main way to organize your content.

Having automated transcripts is great, but turning them into nuggets takes time. To solve that problem Grain created “Flags”.

Flags let you mark a moment of the video with an emoji. For instance whether it’s:

a genius idea 💡

an issue your team member brings up ❌

a hilarious comment 😆

or a red flag 🚩

A simple emoji lets you know which ideas were worth going back to watch, and why.

Flags are also accessible in the Zoom app to flag those moments as they occur live.

Screenshot

Embed

What makes Grain unique is that it interfaces with tools you already use, it doesn’t try to replace them. Once you’ve isolated some feedback that are worth sharing, grain lets you do that in 3 ways

Direct URL links

Download

iFrame

You can embed Grain highlights in your favorite work tools by pasting the link.

When you paste a highlight link, Grain player will embed automatically. This enables others to consume the video content right away.

Miro

Screenshot

Slack

Screenshot

I love that aspect of the product. The Grain team acknowledges that our communications happen elsewhere already. They use that information to become a workflow tool.

Tags

Ok, so far we’ve seen a “beginner” way of using Grain.

But there are a great features that make sense as you scale. The first one is tagging.

Tags let you organize your content by themes (ex: user-feedback, user-request, etc). It can be anything you want.

You can add tags to your recordings ahead of the call.

Or after a recording was made.

Adding a tag is still a little manual for a founder like me, but I’d say they make tons of sense in a later stage company where there is a role dedicated to organize feedback.

Story

Instagram story? YES!!

Sometimes you want to merge highlights together to say something. That's what Stories are for.

A story is a high level narrative that contains many section.

Within your story, you can group Highlights into Sections. You can customize the colors of each section. You can reorder the sections as you like. And you can customize your Story’s cover background.

Watching a story feels like this:

Search

Sometimes I remember something a customer said, but forget who said it.

Enters “search”!

You may have noticed the toolbar on the left side. Second from the top is the Search, a tool to find any specific moment from your recordings by typing a keyword.

When you type a keyword in the search bar, Grain searches through the conversations. It surfaces the most relevant moments from all your recordings. Because transcript already exists and are plain texts the search fast.

That’s it for this app dissections.

I really fell that set of features I shared makes Grain a well crafted product with a clear value proposition.

Props to their team 👏

Pricing

Grain is freemium.

It starts with a 30-day free trial (unlimited recordings). Then it’s free up to 10 recordings

The paid plan includes unlimited recordings, and premium features, such as removing Grain watermarks, downloading transcripts, connecting multiple calendars, or importing files.

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