room.sh has announced its free-to-use open beta program for its one-click connect meeting platform that combines collaborative tools, such as shared digital whiteboards, documents and code editors, with traditional video conferencing capabilities.
“It’s a bit hard to explain without trying it out, but try to think of it as Zoom meets Google Docs,” says Matthew Henshall, CEO of room.sh.
Henshall says he’s often frustrated with meetings, citing research showing that organisations collectively spend 15% of employee time in meetings – a number he believes to be conservative.
“No-one likes meetings, but they are incredibly important to run a business effectively, especially when everyone can’t be in the same place at the same time. So we found it strange that, in the last 25 years of innovation with the Internet, the best we’ve managed to come up with is video calls as a replacement for telephone calls.”
Henshall adds that, with the increasing market shift to distributed teams and remote workers, meetings only become more important to keep everyone on the same page. This perspective is justified, as research by serviced office space provider, IWG, found that 70% of people work remotely at least once a week.
Prior to building room.sh, the four co-founders built the largest, and fastest growing, tutoring marketplace in Africa – with venture capital backing from KNF Ventures. Henshall explains how this was pivotal in coming up with the idea of room.sh: “While we were growing SkillUp, we realised that taking lessons online was a growing trend with our users. Tutors on our platform were using a mix of existing tools like Skype and Google Docs to conduct lessons, but there was still too much friction.
“We wanted to create a more seamless experience for them to conduct online lessons. We tried some off the shelf software, but we didn’t find anything that had the power and flexibility that we were really looking for. Given our team’s strong software development background, we eventually decided to build our own solution from the ground up. During the development process, we quickly realised the potential for this tool to be used for online meetings. We then spun out the core software, room.sh, into a standalone produc.”
room.sh has already seen over 10 000 hours of use, largely in education (on SkillUp and similar platforms) and internal company meetings of early private beta users. It is available today to any individual, team or company for free during the open beta. Pricing will be announced during the official launch in a couple months time.