Kym Dakin developed an app called Nugget that simplifies note-taking for users on Zoom calls or other virtual platforms so meeting participants can focus on their conversations. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

After a pitch competition for Maine entrepreneurs last month, Nick Rimsa was listening to feedback from organizers who knew his Waterville-based software development company had worked with all three finalists.

“Holy Cow,” they told him, “that Nugget Lady was so good.”

That Nugget Lady is Kym Dakin of Yarmouth. Although she didn’t win first place in the Big Gig event last month, she impressed those more accustomed to hearing spiels from mostly male 20-somethings.

Dakin’s background is in theater and improvisation. She writes. She narrates audiobooks. She consults with agencies and companies about how to better communicate. If not for the pandemic, she may never have ventured into the world of tech.

“I am of a generation that does not necessarily have a digital imagination,” she said, and offered her age as “over 55.”

Kym Dakin demonstrates Nugget, an app that simplifies note-taking for users in Zoom calls so meeting participants can focus on their conversations. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Even so, here she is, the founder of Nugget, a simple web application that can increase engagement and focus in online meetings by bookmarking particularly relevant or interesting portions of the meeting. Nugget provides a transcription as well as an audio recording of the meeting so users can easily share or replay only the parts that require action or further reflection, the parts she calls juicy nuggets.

With Nugget running silently in the background, a meeting participant can be a better listener and focus on shoulder language, vocal tone and facial expressions.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into Zoom fatigue,” Dakin said. “The one that I was focusing on was distraction. Having to go back and forth, having to stop the flow, having to try to remember what they just said because it was something really cool, having them repeat it, all that clunky back and forth.”

Jen Turgeon, vice president of implementation for Tyler Technologies, understands well the shortcomings and strengths of telework. She oversees a team of 50 based in Tyler’s Yarmouth office and they’ve all been working from home for the past year.

Among the ways she facilitates online sessions is by taking more frequent breaks and “chunking” content so beginnings and endings are more clearly defined. She hasn’t used Nugget but did take a look at the application.

“I thought it was interesting,” Turgeon said. “I’m really curious to know the research behind it. If I’m not taking notes, then intuitively I can pay more attention to other things.”

When the pandemic reached Maine in March 2020, about 80 percent of Dakin’s contracted work disappeared because most of what she does requires in-person interaction. With so much time on her hands, she enrolled in a virtual class called Propeller put on by the Women’s Business Center of Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Rimsa, who runs a software product studio called Tortoise Labs, was one of two instructors for the eight-week course, which ran from March to late May. All 16 students were women.

“In the first round, I had landed on the problem,” Dakin said, “which was how to raise engagement in online meetings. But I hadn’t landed on the solution.”

When the class ended, Dakin moved on to a book-writing project about listening skills and listening styles. She noticed that her listening patterns are different from those of her husband. They tend to pick up on different information. She learned that active listening often morphs into something else.

Kym Dakin developed an app called Nugget that simplifies note-taking for users in Zoom calls (or other virtual platforms) so meeting participants can focus on their conversations. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We’re acting like we’re listening until the other person takes a breath,” she said, “and then we want to insert what we want to say. We all do it. We’re human. And we’re under a huge amount of stress right now.”

Meanwhile, Rimsa had been emailing and texting Dakin regularly. He wanted to pursue a solution to the problem she had identified. He finally won her over.

“It’s interesting to work with people who are decades younger,” Dakin said. “He’s focused and enthusiastic and he’s got all these ideas.”

She enrolled in a second round of Propeller and they gradually honed in on what, by late February, became Nugget. Dakin’s first attempt involved talk ratio and timing participation so the big talkers wouldn’t corral the conversation. It may have been interesting but it didn’t change behavior.

“Then we started thinking about taking notes,” Dakin said. “I’m from the scribble generation. I have piles of notebooks. And if I have three or four meetings lined up in a day, that’s a hefty notebook. And if I’m doing a recording, that doesn’t necessarily solve my problem because then I have to go hunt and peck for the juicy bits. I don’t have that kind of time.”

They came up with a prototype and tweaked it after getting feedback from various beta testers. Video proved too complicated to adapt to different platforms, so they opted instead for audio. They also examined available transcription tools such as Loom, Descript and Docket and determined those were packaged with other tools and could be intimidating.

“We’re just doing this one simple tool,” Dakin said. “We want this one thing to work absolutely the way it’s supposed to work. I felt very strongly that I didn’t want to subject people to a two-hour video tutorial that people don’t necessarily have time for. I just want to keep it simple.”

They came up with a straightforward pricing plan. Give it a try at no charge for 30 minutes of meeting time. Pay $15 for 10 hours, $25 for 20 hours and $50 for 50 hours. The files exist on yournugget.com rather than on a user’s computer.

So far they have a few dozen users.

“Kym’s really focused on making sure these first people using the product are delighted,” Rimsa said. “In order for this to be helpful and valuable to her, she needed it to be as simple as humanly possible. So we’re definitely still tweaking.”

Despite near-daily contact, Dakin the founder and Rimsa the developer have never met in person. They have a third person working on Nugget. Brendan Barr is an engineer based in Seattle who partners with Rimsa on Tortoise Labs.

Rimsa, who recently turned 30, said the whole purpose of the CEI programming aimed at women is to bring diversity to the tech industry, to help them get started and gain experience.

“We see again and again people like Kym who ordinarily would be … cast aside or ignored by people within the design and development community because it’s so young, white, man-dominated,” Rimsa said. “Of course, Brendan and I are young, white men, but most of the people who have been most excellent don’t look like us at all.”

Rimsa said he hopes Dakin provides an example for others who don’t consider themselves sufficiently techie.

“She has come to learn that this realm of building things can be for anyone,” he said. “The sky is the limit for people who have big ideas and are willing to go through the challenges of bringing something to life.”


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