Choosing Service over Sales
While watching a video by Belinda Goodrich, where she mentions that how a trip to India changed her life and shares three quotes with the audience while ending her talk.
The quotes are
Honour over Hustle
People over Profits
Service over Sales
All three quotes made me thinking as how can I make sense of all these quotes and how can I implement even one in my current work life. The first quote is what I try to implement when dealing with people and I realise the immediate benefits I get out those discussions/ conversations where I try to follow this. The second quote may not be highly relevant for us as of now as the product we are building is yet to become profitable. Whenever it becomes profitable in near future, it will be for the effort of the whole team and the team will be the cause of that profit but not vice-versa. Therefore I think it is justified to put the team first and profit later. The third quote is what made me think deeply that how we can embed the service component in to our upcoming sales process. This is a good time to do such a thing as we are in the starting phase of building our sales team from scratch and we are yet to hire our first sales engineer!
As an individual and team, I have built a couple of video conferencing applications from scratch for various use cases including video banking, video teaching learning, tele-health, video commerce etc. When I built my first video conferencing system way back in 2014, it was purely for fun. I built to have a video call with my friends without using Skype or Hangout, the 2 most popular video conferencing services of that time. After that I built an interview recording system for a College Professor and his PhD candidate for some research purposes. Afterwards, I built a couple of video conferencing and live streaming systems as proof of concepts for advanced use cases of those times using things like Kurento, OpenCV, face detection/ recognition, in video object detection for use cases like in video e-commerce etc.
It was in the year 2016, when I thought of doing something serious about this video thing and started building an ed-tech startup in order to help people teach and earn money online. It had all the components in it like live streaming, recording, hand raising, social learning, content sharing among different groups and sections of students etc. We built all this in 6 -12 months of time. It was around early 2017, when we released our 1st version for public use and got some good as well as bad feedback. The response was not that great especially in Indian market due to 2 -3 primary reasons. The data cost per GB was way too high( INR 250,$3.5/GB on 3g speeds), 4G speed was not there which is good for video calls and unavailability of suitable consumer hardware devices with teachers to teach online. After trying out for couple of months, we went to colleges to check if they will be willing to buy our platform as a subscription to promote anytime anywhere teaching learning. We specifically told the colleges that this will enhance your existing teaching learning experience and prepare you for a future where online teaching will be a common thing(which is the case now!). The colleges told us that such a future is at least a decade away from that time i.e. from 2017. It was not that great of a success trying to sell our platform as a SaaS. Then we asked them if they can let us know what they wanted to buy to which they said that they wanted to buy an ERP. We decided to give it a try to check if we can integrate an ERP into it, which took us a good amount of time. Though it was not making sense to us at that point of time, we decided to go with customer demand. When we took our new thing to them , they said that they only want an ERP but not online teaching learning thing. If we wish to give them for free, then they may try to use it. All the video tech guys out there know it very well that except companies like Microsoft and Google with huge war chests, tiny tots like us won't be able to provide free video conferencing / live streaming services to colleges with the resources the services demand to run efficiently. Finally, we had to shut things down at March 2019 as things were not going as expected and we were still some distance away from break-even.
When I look back today, I ask this question to myself that what I would have been done differently at that time so that the result would have been different today? I was not able to find any answer to this question until March 2020. But from April 2020, all things started to become more and more clear. Now I know a definitive answer(almost!) to this question and the answer is if I would have been chosen a Service over Sales route, there would have been a different outcome. There were guys at that time as well, who were having troubles teaching offline but they were fantastic guys in what they taught. They were ready to try us out and ready to cover our bare minimum costs. But we didn't like them at that time because they didn't meet the textbook definition of how a typical customer of a SaaS product should look like. We didn't give much importance to them rather than chasing our typical customers and we came to the conclusion which we got at March 2019. If we would have chosen to give our wholehearted focus on satisfying those who were interested in taking our product as a Service to them, the result would have been different today!
May be that's why there is a saying that experience comes from not so good decisions!
With that experience, as we are going to launch a product again soon, we are dedicated this time to do the Sales as a Service. To begin with, we have decided to offer our whole platform along with all the features including the cutting edge once to a chosen few purely as a Service without any kind of Profit for us for a time period of 12 -24 months. We are going to provide our complete platform to a selected few Not for Profit organisations. Why only to provide to not for profit organisations because we will also be working on a non-profit basis from our side.
Here is what we are going to provide.
Our complete platform on an independent subdomain of your choice as a dedicated service
Future upgrades and enhancements
Customer support and trouble shooting support
Bug fixing if any
Here is who you should be.
You should be a not for profit organisation from any part of the world.
You should be either from edu-tech, fin-tech, insure-tech, surveillance-tech or health-tech domain.
You should have an existing product or service in the market for at least 2-3 years serving your end users.
You should have a need in existing product or service where video can enhance the success of your product / service, either significantly or marginally.
You should be willing to pay for your cloud bills. In case we get enough credits from our cloud partner, we can try to cover some part of this as well but we can't assure you that it will happen. It may happen or mayn't happen as well.
Last but not the least, we need a small commitment fee(in 1$$$) only once. We need this in order to confirm that you are committed to integrate video our rooms in order to enhance your own value proposition and you are not in the experimental stage of your own offering where you are not sure that video can enhance your own value proposition or not.
If you are looking for building a video conferencing app either for video banking, video insurance, video surveillance,video education or video health, do let us know. We will be super happy to help you build your own app or enhance your existing one to make it better. There is also another great option to adopt our service as a managed service for your own use case and build on top of it.
Here is the link to our latest video rooms:- Magic rooms
We are reachable on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can chat with us using the chat widget on this website. We typically respond within 5 minutes or sooner for chat and 1 day (max.) for email . You can schedule a free 30 mins call with one of our senior consultants using this link for resolving your doubts/ concerns not only about our services but also about how your existing services using WebRTC for video conferencing or live streaming can be improved. Here is our LinkedIn page to stay connected.
Here is the Link to the video from which I got the inspiration.
Happy to help.