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Web 2.0: Blog Post

Voxeet Natural Conferencing Takes the Stress out of Conference Calls

Interview with Voxeet CEO Stephane Giraudie

Hi Stephane, please tell us, what is Voxeet all about and what do you do?

Stephane Giraudie, CEO of Voxeet: Voxeet is an improvement to conference calls so radical that it's hard to imagine going back to archaic audio bridges or spotty P2P services. Despite the fact that conference calls can be an awful experience, there has been little or no innovation over the past decade.

Those days are over. Voxeet solves those daily frustrations and enables teams to have crystal clear, relaxed and more productive conversations, and feel like they are talking around a table. We call this Natural Conferencing, and once you've tried Voxeet, you'll never go back.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Giraudie: Existing audio conferencing is still in the Dark Ages, relying on the same old technology invented over a century ago by Alexander Graham Bell - even with over 100 billion minutes used each year on traditional audio-only teleconferences. This is a huge market that is poised for disruption!

Voxeet's radical improvements for group voice conferencing are designed to displace free audio conferencing solutions and provide a high-quality, lower-cost alternative to Web conferencing and deliver business-quality and reliability not available in today's VoIP solutions. Once you've tried Voxeet, you'll never go back.

So how is your conference call solution different from audio bridges and peer-to-peer solutions?

Voxeet is unique and distinct from anything else in the market in three ways:

  • One, high-definition audio and sound algorithms reduce background noise and echo, eliminate over-talk and boost quality, making your conference calls crystal-clear. It's so immersive and so good that you'll forget you're on the phone and focus on the conversation.
  • Two, high speaker recognition with immersive 3D sound and visual cues always identifies who's talking. Speakers' voices with visual cues follow their avatars around your screen so you always know who's talking.
  • Finally, high mobility lets you transfer calls from your computer to your mobile with a single click. You can also initiate conference calls as easily.

What are you launching now?

Giraudie: We are launching Voxeet mobile apps for iPhone and Android. These killer business and social productivity apps offer natural group communication and the same crystal-clear, 3D-immersive sound and one-click transfer that won us a DemoGod Award.

We've also added "wow" functionalities like our new "whisper mode" for having private conversations during conference calls and Facebook integration to make it super-easy to import contacts.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?

Giraudie:  Voxeet is the ideal solution for people who regularly conduct conference calls.

What are you general thoughts on conferencing market trends?

Giraudie: This is a huge market where, every year, 100 billion minutes are spent on traditional audio-only teleconferences. However, they can be a terrible experience. This will impact the rising number of distributed team and increasingly mobile and remotely working team collaboration. An important market trends are also new possibilities that the expansion of 4G networks and VoLTE offer.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Giraudie: Our product is viral in its essence. Users need to share the application with their contacts in order to use it. Our Facebook and phonebook integration will ease this process. In addition, we are adding some fun by introducing a referral program where users can redeem gifts like headsets as they invite contacts.

How will you make money? What's the business model?

Giraudie: In the first half of next year, we will offer a premium service for users interested in additional features, such as collaborative tools, increased security and additional usage.

Who are your competitors?

Giraudie: Our competitors include Skype and other peer-to-peer solutions, free audio conferencing, expensive Web conferencing services and archaic audio bridges with codes and pins and other hassles.

How do you differentiate from Skype? Would Skype be able to offer a business service like yours to their vast user base?

Giraudie: Skype relies on a peer-to-peer architecture that makes call quality very unreliable, making it difficult to use for business. The quality of 3D sound is not going to be possible on a peer-to-peer architecture. In fact, only a fraction of Skype users are businesses.

Voxeet's technology was designed from the ground up and optimized for business-quality conference calls. Skype mashes together simultaneous sounds, making it impossible to have a conversation with multiple participants. Our technology reproduces the way the brain analyzes sound, making it as natural as a face-to-face conversation.

How can you compete with free offers like Freeconference.com?

Giraudie: Our Discovery version is free as well, but our value proposition is crystal-clear, 3D-immersive sound for better calls and increased productivity.

How do you differentiate from mobile VoIP Services?

Giraudie: Most of the mVoIPs are consumer focused and for one-to-one conversations. Voxeet is focused on business and group conferencing, where high quality is a must.

How does your technology differ from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Giraudie: Voxeet is built around a hybrid model knowing not everything can be handled through a browser just yet. We have and are building rich native clients (PC, Android, iPhone and Mac coming) that are allowing us to provide a much better user experience along with premium sound quality for conference call participants mixed with a powerful and scalable cloud architecture on EC2 that handles conferences, users, and more.

Who founded the company, and when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Giraudie: The co-founders are Larry Fornallaz, CTO, Benoit Sénard, VP of Product Management and I am the CEO. In our previous work lives, we all worked with international team and conference call were a constant. We found that experience awful and knew there had to be a better way. We founded Voxeet in 2009. Voxeet is an international company with teams in both Silicon Valley and Bordeaux, France.

We launched Voxeet for PCs at DEMO Spring 2012, where we won a DEMOgod award and were named Forbes & PC Magazine favorites. That was very encouraging.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Giraudie: The "discovery" edition is available for free on our website and the iPhone and Android versions are available on app markets for free. The PRO edition, which will be based both on usage and premium functionalities, will be available in the first half of next year for a nominal fee.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Giraudie: With our PC version available, Android and iPhone apps just released, and Mac version in development, Voxeet is about to become a true cross-platform application. We are also working on our PRO edition that will offer more collaboration tools, added security and more wow functionalities.

Voxeet just won the grand prize of theAppIngniter challenge by Bandwidth's inetwork. Please tell us what the USD600K in services signify for Voxeet.

Giraudie: Winning the Voice App Igniter Challenge will help extend our technology to support dial-up from landlines and cell phones, making it possible to completely replace old-style audio conferencing with Voxeet. Imagine the possibilities when you have the power and simplicity of Natural Conferencing to make your team collaboration and customer conferences as clear and productive as face-to-face meetings. Having access to up to one million free phone numbers will propel Voxeet to another level and make Voxeet ubiquitous, while helping millions of people enjoy natural conversations, dramatically improving their collaboration experience.

You are also active on KickStarter? How much money is being sought, what is it going to be used for?

Giraudie: We are in the process of starting a campaign there and would like to raise funds to help us develop and launch our Mac version. With a Mac version, we'll be a  true cross-platform application, we want to make Voxeet universal so that anybody can call in and participate in a Voxeet conference call.

Are you also targeting a first VC round? If yes, when, and what will you use the funds for? How much money is being sought?

Giraudie: We are raising a seed round to continue funding our development efforts and help us accelerate customer acquisition.

What about security?

Giraudie: As we are targeting business users and businesses in particular, security is very important to us. Voxeet is already secure as, unlike other solutions, we keep separate tracks for each participant's voice, making it hard to capture the whole conversation. We are planning to add full encryption to our PRO edition.

What is your take on the WebRTC initiatives?

Giraudie: We following the WebRTC initiatives very closely. We are already using some of the WebRTC components.

What else would you like to add?

Giraudie: We are really excited to make Voxeet available on mobile devices. Once you experience Voxeet, it's hard to imagine going back, and now mobile workers and teams should enjoy:

  • High Quality - The voice quality is crystal-clear
  • High Speaker Recognition - You always know who's speaking
  • High Mobility - One click transfers to your cell phone

Everyone can download Voxeet:

Apple Store : https://itunes.apple.com/app/voxeet/id583902336?mt=8

PC : http://download.voxeet.com/download/VoxeetSetup.exe

For more information about Voxeet, please visit http://www.voxeet.com. Here's a link to the award winning DEMO Spring 2012 presentation with the 3D immersive sound. Please use a headset and share your product review on the respective app stores.

 

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More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel, Tech blogger and SVP of Transform PR/San Francisco- Mountain View. She mainly writes about B2B solutions, social media and open source software. Transform Public Relations is a full-service PR agency, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The agency is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. Buy her a coffee if you like her article: http://xeniar.tip.me

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