Online tech help is plentiful, but solving a problem or getting a direct answer to a question can be cumbersome: describing what is going wrong with your computer or application is not always easy and frequently involves a long chain of emails or chats among users who can’t see one another’s screens. The desktop sharing company CrossLoop tries to solve this problem by connecting computer users with service providers and friends who can offer the technical help users require easily and quickly. This is achieved through a free software application that is designed to be easy to use. The software puts users in touch with over 15,000 computer expert Helpers who can provide immediate support and training remotely.
The company was founded by Tom Rolander, CTO and Mrinal Desai, VP of sales and business development. Tom built the screen-sharing software so that he could remotely help his father, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Early in his career Tom, who has over 25 years’ experience in the industry, designed multi-tasking (MP/M) and network (CP/NET) operating systems for early microcomputers and won a Codie award for his iFolder Internet application. Mrinal, an early employee at LinkedIn, believes in the notion that it’s all about relationships and envisioned a marketplace that enables people to share and learn from each other.
CrossLoop was started with initial investments from friends and family. The company closed a $3 million Series A round from El Dorado Ventures in 2007 and a $6 million Series B led by Venrock along with El Dorado in 2008. Based in Monterey, CA, the company currently has around eight employees.
CrossLoop was conceived with a simple idea – to build desktop sharing that grandma could use. The founders focused on making an application that would deliver what it promised, while being simple, secure and permission-based. CrossLoop’s target market consists of consumers and small businesses. IDC estimates that the broad US market for support services is expected to grow from $2 billion in 2007 to $3.6 billion in 2012. This is an attractive solution for consumers who need to reach out to a Helper for assistance with the variety of complex products available in the market. Small businesses find CrossLoop’s ‘service as a service’ model more viable than hiring a full-time person to provide internal support for the business. CrossLoop takes 5-15% of the service charge paid by the customer to the expert Helpers. As the economy worsens, many businesses are turning to this “fabulous freebie” as a means to save money.
Customers spread the word about CrossLoop personally, through Twitter and other social networks. The company has also tapped into social media and appeared on social news sites such as Digg and several relevant blogs such as VentureBeat, which have all helped to increase awareness of the application. The company is currently pre-revenue and has only recently launched its transaction system.
Since its inception about two years ago, users have downloaded the software over 2 million times in over 190 countries. The company has facilitated over 4 million desktop sharing ‘help’ sessions, which is growth of 382% from 2007. Users have spent over 80 million minutes sharing via desktops, which is growth of over 425% y-o-y. Currently there are over 15,000 registered expert Helpers, an increase of 429% over the last year.
Mrinal Desai, VP of sales and business development, says, “Our growth strategy will come from continuing things have worked very well for us so far and some new initiatives. We see a big opportunity with the upcoming Mac version of our software – it’s the single biggest user request.” With no exit plans currently, this small company plans to pursue its goals and make a difference in the way people collaborate.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009