After two years in stealth mode, a startup called Highfive is launching Tuesday with a product its founders swear will make video-conferencing drop-dead simple and forever banish dial-in codes for boring group calls.
“Everyone agrees that conference calls are a terrible experience,” Shan Sinha, cofounder and CEO of Highfive tells Business Insider.
The status quo, Sinha says, is that you have to struggle with dial-ins and old equipment for 15 minutes before you can even get a call started. Not only does it waste a bunch of time, he says, but phone calls are inherently less valuable than face-to-face meetings.
Sinha felt so strongly that there had to be a better way, that he ditched his job at Google, built a rock-star team of designers and engineers from Apple, Cisco, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, and started taking on the problem.
The company also has backing from big-names like Salesforces’s Marc Benioff, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and Box’s Aaron Levie, as well as General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures.
Here’s what Highfive’s sleek solution looks like:
The idea is that every room with a TV will have Highfive’s video device, which has super-crisp video and sound quality. All it takes to join a conference call is clicking a link, and participants can talk from their TV, desktop, or mobile phone. The system costs $US799.
Sinha says that he considers Highfive the Nest of video-conferencing. Just like Nest did with thermostats, Highfive wanted to make a conferencing system that was both beautiful and really easy to use. The company has been piloting its products with a variety of businesses, like Warby Parker and HotelTonight, with great response.
Although $US799 a room might not sound particularly cheap without context, Highfive compares its pricing to that of legacy video conferencing products, like those offered by Cisco. To install the comparable Cisco product would cost $US20,000 per room, according to Sinha:
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