When it comes to enterprise collaboration tools, products like Dropbox, Basecamp, and Google Apps have changed the way companies work together online. Startup Screenhero is looking to change just one aspect of the enterprise collaboration space with its product: screensharing. The Mountain View, CA-based company, which is currently participating in startup accelerator Y Combinator’s latest class, launched a beta version of its Mac app in December 2012, and today is releasing its Windows version in public beta.
Since its public beta launch on February 11th, the company has seen over 5,000 registered users sign up, who shared 26,000 minutes of screen time last week alone. The company competes with other screensharing platforms like GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce in 2012), Join.me, and GoToMeeting, but the founders believe Screenhero is a better collaborative tool, since every participant gets their own mouse pointer.
Like many online collaboration tools, Screenhero was built because the founders were looking for a better way to work remotely with a team. They previously founded iTeleport, which lets users control their desktop computer using their iPhone or iPad no matter where they are, and moved on to Screenhero just over a year ago. CEO J Sherwani said in an interview that they felt there was no existing screensharing tool that let people work together like they could using Google Docs.
“There’s just nothing out there that quite lets you do multiple mouse cursors at the same time, and we felt that was a very crucial piece of the puzzle,” Sherwani said in an interview. “We really felt that it made sense to start from scratch, and throw away all the assumptions that other people made before us.”
The team calls Screenhero “Google Docs for any application.” After downloading the app, signing up, and adding team members or friends, users can either share their entire screen or one individual window. Once a contact has agreed to view the screenshare, both participants get their own mouse pointer and similar to Google Docs, can simultaneously edit and work on projects. The key point is that both users don’t have to have a specific app installed on their own computer, so for example users could collaborate on an Excel worksheet even if only one person has Excel installed.
The company said their platform is ideal for developers who are programming together or reviewing code, companies who want to review designs or mockups together, or marketers giving product demos. The basic account is free, and soon users will be able to pay either $5 per month for an individual pro account, or $49 per month for a pro team account, which will add additional features like support and enterprise integration.
The app also lets users chat using Screenhero’s internal chat feature, currently via text but the company said it plans to add audio chat as well, which is a crucial feature since right now most users who want to chat while they’re working together have to use Skype in conjunction with Screenhero. Ultimately Sherwani said that while right now they’re exclusively focused on screensharing, the plan is to become a multi-faceted collaboration tool, potentially incorporating not just audio but video chat, conference calling, and other features. They’ll likely have to do that to compete with tools like Join.me, which has calling features and lets users send files and chat.
“The eventual goal is to kind of be the one tool that you’d need to get things done collaboratively, and it just so happens that would involve having video chat, audio chat, even conference calling and a bunch of other features,” Sherwani said.
It’s easy to see how business users, from a marketer or salesperson doing a product demo to a developer reviewing code, could use Screenhero, especially because it feels almost like Skype in its design, so users will likely have no problem understanding how to use it. Right now where it falls flat is in its niche focus, since existing platforms like Join.me include screensharing as a feature of their larger product, not the entire product. With plans to become a larger collaboration platform, Screenhero could be a viable replacement to a cobbled-together suite of tools people currently use to collaboratively work on documents.