The online conference call software space is crowded, with little differentiation between services, and a similar user experience and frustrations associated with each, whether it’s FreeConferenceCall.com or another solution. Which may be one of the reasons why when ÜberConference demoed at and won Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York earlier in the year, it had a lot of people excited about how it might change the often frustrating conference call experience.
The San Francisco-based company launched out of beta in September and announced today that it will be launching ÜberConference Business, an enterprise version of its teleconferencing service, which can also now be accessed in the Google Apps Marketplace for enterprises already using Google Apps. Since launching out of beta in September, the company has seen a steady upward spike in adoption of its visual approach to conference calls and has received $3 million in funding from Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
“It was clear when we started looking at it just how much this space needed help, it had not changed in a really long time. We’re trying to make it easy for enterprises of any size to sign up for their company. It was one of the biggest customer support requests we had,” CEO Craig Walker said in an interview. “So we built an enterprise version that allows any administrator to come to ÜberConference to buy as many licenses they want on a single credit card, at reduced discounts based on the amount they buy.”
The company set out to tackle the issues that revolved around audio-only conference calls, namely who’s on the call, and who’s talking at any given time. To solve this, ÜberConference provides a visual browser-based dashboard, with caller profiles to highlight who’s talking, and control features for organizers that aim to make calls more streamlined. With a click of a button, they can mute someone, or if they need to huddle and exclude someone they can use the ‘earmuffs’ features as opposed to traditional conference calling tools that require users to hit a combination on their keypad to mute. It also integrates with popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, and aggregates an individual’s profile for browsing within the call itself.
With a pro account available for $10 per user that included features like call recording, outbound calling, and custom hold music, enterprises receive bulk discounts based on the number of users they wish to purchase licenses for. Prior to the enterprise account, each employee would have to enter their own credit card info and upgrade their individual account, and that can now be streamlined with a single account administrator within a company, or purchased directly through the Google Apps Marketplace which lets users integrate ÜberConference into their Gmail account.
“The biggest problem with an audio-only call is that you don’t have any visual information so lacking that you end up with these horrible starting processes, introducing yourself by voice, recognizing people by voice, hearing a beep and not knowing if someone has hung up or joined,” Walker added. “But once you put a visual interface on that, all of a sudden…I know who’s been invited, I know who’s supposed to be on the call, I know who’s on the call, I know who just joined, I know who just left.”
Other startups looking to tackle the audio-only conference call issue include Voxeet, which provides a similar visual feel by showing a virtual table to determine who’s talking. BetaKit covered that company’s enterprise adoption earlier in October. There is also the video conference calling arena, which has seen companies like Meetings.io spring up (acquired this week by Jive), in addition to traditional services like Skype and of course Cisco’s WebEx Solution. And if it’s not video or audio, companies like Join.me and ScreenLeap are providing screensharing tools for collaboration and conducting demos.