With the number of people working from home steadily rising and the percentage of work being done via video conferences and other collaboration platforms climbing, the performance of those communication systems is more important than ever.
And almost everyone working in tech can recall a time when their conference call or video call quality got so low that it was more of a distraction than a convenience. While many of us can manage through a poor connection or a few software glitches, quality is becoming more important as video connections begin playing bigger roles remote healthcare, education and communications with clients and consumers.
That’s why Vyopta, an Austin-based startup, is taking on venture capital for the first time, adding advisors and working to become something like a Google Analytics platform to monitor and analyze video conferences and other collaboration platforms.
“It’s gone beyond just being used in a conference room,” Vyopta Co-Founder and CEO Alfredo Ramirez said. “People are starting to use it on their laptops and tablets.”
And it’s changing fast as more businesses shift to online collaboration platforms, such as Slack, Google Hangouts and others.
“The modalities of real-time communication — video, audio, content sharing and text messaging — is all coming together,” he said. “And the adoption of video is growing much more quickly over time, and we’re seeing that with Google Hangouts. We get a lot of calls to expand coverage into that area.”
Vyopta’s own analysis shows that video usage has doubled across their customer base. And some, especially the largest businesses, expanded their video usage rapidly — in some cases 10 times more than just a year or two prior.
Those businesses are looking for better call quality and reliability, Ramirez said. Vyopta’s platform provides real time and historic visibility of those connections and it can quickly identify problems and their source, whether it’s a software problem, camera issues, network speed or other factors impacting quality. That, in turn, helps IT teams decide what to invest in to improve their networks.
Vyopta formed just after the big financial crisis of 2008. It started as a services company trying to take advantage of the growing use of video conferencing and remote collaboration. They saw it growing, companies struggling to optimize the experience and wanted to build solutions.
“We made a bet that video software codecs were going to take off,” Ramirez said. “It didn’t quite happen early on.”
But they noticed clients having trouble deducing why communications weren’t going as well as they wanted. So Vyopta pivoted to focus on analytics and monitoring solutions in 2013. Their platform interacts with six collaboration stacks today, including Microsoft, Cisco and Vidyo. And the company plans to expand from that.
Ramirez declined to share revenue numbers. But he said that annual recurring revenue has grown close to 100 percent year-over-year since their pivot in 2013. Now the company hopes to accelerate even faster.
Vyopta has been largely bootstrapped since its founding in 2008. Last week, it announced it will take on venture capital for the first time with a $5 million Series A round led by AVX Partners, a new Austin-based venture capital firm established by Chris Pacitti, a general partner with Austin Ventures.
The investment will fuel Vyopta’s expansion into new platforms, such as Microsoft’s Skype for Business, and add 35 new employees over the next two quarters — largely developers and sales and marketing specialists. That will bring their workforce from 25 to 61 people.
Along with the money, Vyopta is now working closely with a team of advisors that have experience in raising capital and building companies to reach lucrative exits. The team includes three former SolarWinds executives — former CEO Mike Bennett, former CMO Rita Selvaggi and former VP of Technology Josh Stephens. They will join advisors Patrick Drew and Daniel Keelan, who are founders of Next Step Capital Partners, which previously provided Vyopta with debt financing in 2013.
“Their experience and background are really important for Vyopta,” Ramirez said. “I wouldn’t say we have the same go-to-market model as SolarWinds, but we have similar characteristics. And we’re learning from them about the attributes of of that business (SolarWinds) and go-to-market model that we can adopt here at Vyopta.”