Enterprise apps, in many cases, exhibit some of the worst traits of the enterprises they serve, including a tendency to stay relatively the same despite new advances. There’s plenty of incentive to keep things the same; change is costly after all, and once you’ve got clients buying a specific system, there’s a certain advantage to being able to lock them in to your way of doing things. But that leaves room for smaller players, like Palo Alto-based Screenleap, to innovate in a space where innovation is desperately needed.
Screenleap offers screensharing, which in itself isn’t exactly something groundbreaking to provide. WebEx does it, GoToMeeting too, and even for general consumers, it’s relatively easy to achieve with Skype. But Screenleap one-ups all those solutions by taking away every technical hurdle and hoop: a host has to allow a Java applet to run, but there’s nothing to download, and most importantly, no installation, downloads or even scripts to deal with on the side of the person (or people) who’s viewing the shared screen. The need for what Screenleap provides was originally simple, and not even really something that entered into the territory GoToMeeting and WebEx address.
“My friends and I were always working on new ideas for startups and we found that it was often difficult to quickly show each other what we’re working on since we hadn’t released them yet,” Screenleap co-founder Tuyen Truong said in an interview. “We would email screen shots to each other but that took a lot of time too because you had to take a screen shot, attach it to an email, and then send it out. We started playing around with different ideas for how to make this more efficient and we came up with Screenleap.”
Even though it wasn’t necessarily intended as a WebEx-killer, Truong thinks it has that potential, and he believes that it can escape being replicated by bigger players for simple reasons tied to their balance sheets.
“We plan to attack screen sharing by making it so easy to use that you don’t need a sales force to sell it,” Truong explains, describing why he thinks Screenleap can avoid being made redundant by a feature introduction from a larger player. “We think it will be difficult for GoToMeeting or WebEx to build a product that is as frictionless because they have a large salesforce so there will be a lot of internal resistance to creating such an easy-to-use product. Basically, we’re going to follow Dropbox’s playbook.”
File sharing was hardly a new concept when Dropbox arrived on the scene, and enterprise users had been using tools made specifically for them to accomplish the same thing for years. But Dropbox’s ease-of-use and low barrier to entry, aided by the Bring Your Own Devices movement (which is, at least in part, also often a Bring Your Own Software push), helped it to gain tons of traction among enterprise users. In fact, in a recent interview, WatchDox CMO Ryan Kalember told BetaKit that Dropbox is among the biggest consumers of enterprise bandwidth.
Truong thinks Screenleap can perform a similar end-around for screensharing services. It isn’t without competition, however. GoInstant, which promises similar services and has raised $1.7 million in early funding (Screenleap is still in the process of raising the remainder of its seed funding round), is currently in private beta. Truong says that his team’s advantage lies in its ability to ship product.
“We have a great team that executes very quickly,” he said. “We were able to conceive, build, and launch Screenleap in less than six months, which is about the same amount of time since GoInstant announced their private beta.”
Screenleap will offer its screensharing services free, but plans to introduce additional features later on to add revenue streams, including voice integration, branded pages and integration with enterprise client sales and support systems. Screenleap really is as simple as it looks, and as a result, easier than pretty much anything else out there. If it can drum up interest and add paid features without compromising that basic competitive advantage, it just might stand a chance of mimicking Dropbox’s success.