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An AI-powered workplace video platform

Back in 2016, I was an early employee at Helpful — a little startup in Toronto — which was the brainchild of Daniel Debow and Farhan Thawar. My role at Helpful allowed the startup to quickly and continuously test the founders' vision, building on old systems and creating net-new ones, with a workplace video messaging app powered by machine learning.

A phone and earbuds on a table with the Helpful video chat app on an iPhone

As a product leader, I collaborated with Daniel and Farhan in building and validating various ideas, ultimately creating an intelligent employee directory with a fun game to help team members get to know each other. I developed clickable prototypes, conducted interviews with potential users in the Toronto area, and worked with our engineering team to build a functional app. Launched in 2016, the Helpful directory and game proved successful in our initial tests.

In 2017, we explored adding ephemeral video messages to the directory to address the issue of remote team members missing morning standup meetings. My role at Helpful involved working as product lead, managing a product designer, interfacing with product management and engineering, and collaborating with our machine learning/data science experts. We launched various experiments, including training the system to help users find someone who could assist with specific tasks, transcribing videos, learning from transcripts, and exploring augmented reality and generative recommendations.

Helpful's app evolved into a short-format video messaging suite for team and manager feedback. I led the product and engineering team in implementing a comprehensive design system and product exploration/iteration cycle. Our feature exploration, user testing, build, launch, and measurement practices resulted in an enterprise communication tool utilized by small business owners with remote employees, banks for employee feedback and executive updates, and major airlines for asynchronous communication across vast distances at airports.

a sample of some sketches for the helpful app
a tryptic of people using the helpful app on a phone and screenshot of user testing
a photo of a hand holding a phone with helpful app over a desk with a notepad, stickies and laptop
a screenshot of the helpful design system
a selection of screens from the helpful app
a selection of screens from the helpful app
a smartphone and laptop floating with the helpful app on screen
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Helpful continued on this path while simultaneously spinning up Dialog, an open conversation platform. Dialog allowed people to create real-time podcasts where listeners could pop in with questions to the hosts. If this sounds familiar, Helpful created Dialog in 2018, two years before Clubhouse.

Helpful was acquired by Shopify in 2019.


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