This article is part of a series covering the most exciting start-ups featured at the most recent TechBUZZ conference, held at AOL Fishbowl Labs. To read the rest of the articles in the series, click here.

The Motley Fool gets its name and inspiration from the Shakespearean court jester -- the only character in the Bard's plays who could tell the king the truth without getting his head lopped off. Although we value uncompromising honesty and open debate, we've all been in situations where voicing an honest opinion is difficult.

Daniel Russell was on a marketing consulting trip in California, trying to help a company reinvigorate its tired brand, when he witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. Everyone in the room was excited to try new ideas, and then the boss came in and suggested that perhaps it was better just to keep doing things the old way for now. Nobody had the courage to disagree. Daniel saw a real need to give employees the ability to "tell the King the truth."

So he set out to build Attentiv.

Clear focus, better outcomes
Attentiv is meeting collaboration software that helps keep meetings focused, efficient, and productive. Aside from the basic scheduling and inviting of attendees, Attentiv allows the organizer to ask certain questions regarding each agenda item. For example, if your first agenda item is "Review and Approve Budget," then you can then insert questions such as "Do you approve this quarter's marketing budget?" and give the meeting attendees the ability to answer the question once it's posed. 

All meeting attendees can comment in the body of the window while a meeting is going on. This is especially nice for teleworkers or people from different regions who are listening into a conference line and want to provide feedback while they listen to the main speaker. And, of course, everyone has the option of either commenting anonymously or using their real name. At the end of the meeting, the meeting minutes are created. These are basically a recap of the meeting's text-based conversation, as well as the answers to the agenda questions that were asked. This makes Attentiv very helpful for people who couldn't make the meeting as well.

A previous version of Attentiv had required meeting organizers to produce itemized agendas in an effort to keep meetings on track. However, when Attentiv's first 1,000 users were largely against that feature, Attentiv acted fast and removed it. Kudos to Attentiv for listening and responding quickly to customer feedback. Version 2.0 of the service feels more like an internal "water cooler" that can quickly and easily splinter off into more focused and productive conversations.

Still in its early stages of development, Attentiv is positioning itself in the same space as Yammer and Slack. Attentiv has customers from companies like Dropbox, Ernst & Young, NBC Universal, Humana, Carfax, and others using the service. 

Watch CEO Daniel Russell deliver his 4-minute pitch to investors at the recent TechBUZZ conference:

Video footage courtesy of

To follow Attentiv's progress, you can visit its website and follow its Twitter account.