Companies

The Skype of small businesses

Bharani Vaitheesvaran | Updated on March 25, 2014

HRISHIKESH KULKARNI,Founder & CEO, 1Click.io

1Click.io provides video-conferencing facility at low bandwidth



Business conversations in high-definition video over the Internet have been around for a while now, but beyond the reach of small and medium businesses.

The spark for Hrishikesh Kulkarni, founder of Bangalore-based start-up Turtle Yogi Technologies, was to convert this need for low-bandwidth video-conferencing into a business.

Having developed video telecommunication products for over a decade in the US, he finds the growing Internet ecosystem in India heralding an era of professional video-conferencing. If Skype, Google Hangout and Webex can revolutionise personalised networking, his opportunity lies in the absence of a professional equivalent in the business world.

The 37-year-old University of Mumbai graduate is heading a cloud-based venture that enables Internet browsers — Google Chrome, Opera and Mozilla Firefox as of now — to host video conversations on a company’s website.

An Internet Protocol that can stream and store video across browsers in a feeble Internet environment does the trick. The set-up is useful for businesses where networking among employees is done several times in a day.

Selling point

The other selling point of the product, 1Click.io, says Kulkarni, is simplicity. There are no separate login requirements for every participator. The person initiating the conversation will open an account and send emails to people to join in. “If you receive a mail you click and join. No account creation, no login worries.” HDFC Bank, business process outsourcing firm Firstsource and online counsellor EduNext are on the client list, two of which got on board during the testing phase itself in early 2013. “We did not charge them because we were in the validation process,” he clarifies. Today, there are over 1,400 users on the 1Click-enabled web platforms. Another potential business segment is the real estate sector. Bigdeals.in is a Gurgaon-based client who wanted to connect wealthy individuals with developers of posh properties. A unique portal set up by 1Click now enables big buyers to quiz builders face-to-face.

Revenue model

Revenues come through monthly plans tailored to suit the communication needs of each business. Introductory video calls attract no charge, but value-added services such as recording a conversation draw fees ranging from ₹10-30 on a per-call basis. The business model offers scope for scaling up. Kulkarni has been asked by call centre firms to record calls and analyse them, answer questions such as who spoke the most in a call. Was a certain call from a disgruntled customer? Did an employee miss a potential buyer? Add to that the interest from e-learning websites for analytical inferences about the efficacy of a maths module: How many students reappeared for a session by the same teacher?

“This service would require full-time data analysts in our team, which now has seven engineers and business development experts,” says Kulkarni.

Funding

But more services will mean more investments, an equation that deters him in no great magnitude. 1Click received funding from an investor consortium led by Blume Ventures in August 2013, a couple of months before its product had graduated from the Beta stage.

Kulkarni’s business model draws confidence from large investments by browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in Web Real Time Communication, an emerging trend of hosting videos on websites. Apart from that, the 4G (Long Term Evolution) technology taking off in India will help him scale it up from the 300 Kbps he provides for multi-party calls.

1Click was incubated at the NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore, a few months after Kulkarni quit LifeSize Communications, a “high-margin player” in the video communications space. It has been over a year in business and new areas have come into the radar: “Video-conferencing for matrimony and astrology sites is interesting. If we can connect them on mobile, nothing like it.”

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Published on March 24, 2014
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