Gerry Murphy's been in the video conferencing business for over 20 years, and during that time technology has completely changed the landscape in which he operates. In 1994, when Gerry first started out, video conferencing was vastly expensive, costing millions of dollars and taking up huge amounts of time. Since then, the cost has come down significantly and the technology has improved, allowing Gerry to start his company BeingThere in 2007, and completely change the video conferencing game.
Richer communications with BeingThere
Gerry hit some stumbling blocks at the beginning. 'We originally put expensive equipment in, but it just wasn't delivering the goods, it was too restricted to the C-level,' explains Gerry.
However, the BeingThere team soon found a technology (Vidyo) that delivered robust connections and was designed specifically for the internet from day one. 'It opened up a new vista, allowing us to provide video conferencing as a service to customers,' says Gerry. This involved focusing on implementation and customer support more than the underlying technology.
This philosophy allowed BeingThere to begin in earnest. The team focused on customers that wanted to engage seriously with a medium that allows for richer communications, and Gerry's clients have moved beyond the freebies that many companies continue to use. They seek a better connection, fewer interruptions, and the best customer service you can get. BeingThere delivers all three.
The biggest challenge Gerry has faced in his business journey has been dealing with the multitude of free video conferencing services that are out there. 'So many of these freebies are grainy, the connections are pixelated and are often dropped halfway through. They don't provide any support or deliver meeting consistency,' explains Gerry. 'Yet, a lot of businesses set that as a benchmark and just accept the mediocrity because they don't know how good it can be.'
To solve this problem, Gerry decided to focus his efforts on customer service and getting to his clients' pain points. He found that as soon as new customers tried the BeingThere software and support, they immediately realised what they were missing. 'You need a good quality, robust tool that's designed specifically for business. It can't be grainy and there can't be interruptions,' says Gerry. 'Our platform has saved businesses huge amounts of time just because it operates so smoothly.'
The customer is key
Customer support is key to these seamless video meetings. All customers are issued with phone numbers to enable them to call directly whenever they have a problem, no matter where they're based, meaning video conferences can go ahead without interruption.
As a result, BeingThere has become hugely popular among its client base, operating just short of a million minutes of video conferencing time per year. This has allowed BeingThere to run on a business model of recurring income rather than having to put large amounts of money into sales and growth. 'Many of our customers have been with us four or five years, and that's the best accolade I can think of for our business.'
Challenges in the current climate
The challenge that's facing all businesses currently is something of a double-edged sword for BeingThere. 'There's a perception that businesses must watch their costs, that their hands are tied and they can't spend money,' says Gerry. This means that there's not as much extra income to spend on things like video conferencing as a service.
However, because of the need to cut spending, Gerry is able to present BeingThere as a solution to many unnecessary expenditures that businesses make. 'If they use this medium effectively, businesses will really slash their costs, as they won't have to spend so much money on travel for meetings and conferences, not only among colleagues but with suppliers, with their own customers, and anyone else they might have to communicate with in business.'
'People to bounce ideas off'
Gerry joined TEC in 2011, and whereas previously he'd had to deal with the challenges BeingThere faced on his own, TEC has given him a forum to test ideas and decisions with other people. 'Before, I didn't have anyone to bounce ideas off, which made the decision-making process more difficult.' Gerry has benefited both from the one-on-ones and the round table discussions. 'The one-to-ones for me are really important, they help me get to the root of the issues and gives me a lot of reassurance.'
The round table discussions, on the other hand, present a chance to hear about all manner of issues affecting businesses. 'You get to hear about the experiences of other companies in a range of areas, from HR and finance to tax. The conversations get me thinking about these very common aspects of a business' day to day operations.'
Initially, Gerry heard about TEC from a friend, and went to his first meeting not really knowing what to expect. However, the openness of the established members impressed him from the very beginning. 'People were talking about issues that they'd maybe mention to a close friend or family member, but not anyone they didn't really know. I realised immediately that this was the perfect forum for the support that's so necessary when running a business, and that you don't always get as a CEO or Managing Director.'
When Gerry was facing the challenge of dealing with the rise of the freebie video conferencing industry, it was TEC that gave him the confidence to proceed. 'I used the group as a forum for my business idea - I tested my key messages on them and listened to their feedback so that I could create the best service offering possible,' Gerry explains.
With the help of TEC, Gerry has overcome many of the challenges of his industry, and created a business that has a loyal client following - what better success than this?
Established in: 2007
Industry: Video conferencing and cloud services
Size: Just under 1 million minutes a year
Markets: Clients are Australian, primarily in WA, although the software is used to talk to people across the world. BeingThere work with commercial businesses, not-for-profits, local governments and communities.