The online multimedia collaboration space is rich with opportunities for entrepreneurship. Read on for an in-depth perspective.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to HighFive and yourself.
Shan Sinha: HighFive is a all-in-one videoconferencing system. We build the easiest-to-use videoconferencing systems in the market. One of the things that makes us unique is that it’s a 100% cloud-based solution. It combines both hardware and software to deliver a solution that not only gives businesses of all sizes the best end-user experience but also an amazing platform for administrators that helps them consolidate the different point solutions they use. The fundamental thing that we fix is we put an end to that first 15 minutes of chaos that precedes every single meeting.
Sramana Mitra: Before we proceed, can you give us a ecosystem overview of the videoconferencing system and how you see the strength and weakness of that ecosystem? Who’s doing what? Where do you see the gaps and innovation opportunities?
Shan Sinha: Conferencing technology has been around for a long time now. What’s interesting is the world has fragmented into a whole bunch of different solutions that were all originally intending to solve different parts of the problem that people need to solve. If you rewind the clock 20 years back, what you ended up seeing was, broadly speaking, three different categories of tools.
One category of tools was videoconferencing with companies like Cisco and Polycom. This had very expensive equipment designed for very senior executives. They’re complex and hard to use. There’s a second category of tools called web conferencing. This came about when the Internet started to show up in the late 90’s to early 2000’s. This is an app that you use from your computer or mobile device that allows a group of people to have a meeting when everybody is sitting at a different location.
You have the third thing, which is what we’re using today. We have an audio bridge. The strange thing is the last time that any new companies innovated in the category was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. For about a decade, there wasn’t a whole lot of new technologies that emerged trying to improve on the technology that people use to connect with each other.
During that time, different technologies like the Internet, smartphones, and cloud-based computing showed up, but the world of conferencing technology didn’t change. People were still using WebEx. Over the last seven to eight years, there has been a massive migration to new technologies that solve the problem of distributed groups of people trying to meet much more effectively and with much higher quality.
There’re a few different companies that ended up being part of that crowd and we were one of them. We’ve raised $70 million now. We have over 2,000 customers. We’re hosting nearly 200,000 meetings a month now. We do that over a hundred different countries around the world all delivered through a single cloud-based platform enabled by hardware and lightweight software.