Software such as Zoom or Join.me has allowed remote teams to connect with one another for group meetings and with secluded employees being more commonplace, this type of software has become more apparent. For example, in the many, many coworking spaces in Boston, it’s common to see rooms equipped with cameras and the ability to log into this kind of software.
However, like anything else involved with software, issues will arise when especially during the setup phase. ZiipRoom is a startup looking to make a more accessible, streamlined way to schedule and conduct those weekly meetings.
ZiipRoom Co-Founder and CEO Martin Bodley spoke with us how their technology is changing the way teams are managing their huddle room conferences. Being a serial entrepreneur, Bodley also talked about his previous startups and how his experiences working in those shaped his newest venture.
Colin Barry [CB]: You’re a serial entrepreneur. Before we go into detail about ZiipRoom, let’s talk about your career prior to your latest company. What led you to become an entrepreneur? What about your other companies?
Martin Bodley [MB]: I began my entrepreneurial pursuits after getting caught in downsizing and losing my job back in 2003. Having worked for Raytheon and other large global companies up to that point in my career, I decided to try my hand at starting my own wireless product development company, during the early days of the Bluetooth implementation surge.
Maestro was born and went exceptionally well for two to three years when I launched Revolabs as a spin-out company looking to disrupt enterprise collaboration by delivering better audio during meetings. As the CEO of Revolabs for seven-plus years, we experienced explosive growth and Yamaha acquired the company in 2014. Now at ZiipRoom, we are once again disrupting enterprise collaboration by focusing on connecting people to technology in meeting rooms and delivering meeting room experiences that are simple, consistent and allow video conferencing of any type.
CB: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What is the origin story behind ZiipRoom?
MB: Having developed and sold technology for meeting rooms at Revolabs for many years, I became acutely aware of the pain experienced by users and managers of meeting rooms within companies.
Nearly two years ago, I was approached by a colleague working for a Fortune 100. They were describing a void in available technologies to provide a single, simple solution for huddle rooms that allows wireless presentation, phone calls & video calls of any type (and from multiple UC providers: Skype for Business, Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc.) and remote management tools.
That is precisely what we have developed over the past two years at ZipRoom, a SaaS-model software solution for huddle rooms that connects people and their devices with the room and cloud technology. Walk into a meeting room, your device ‘wakes-up’ and with a single click you can present, call or join your 3 PM Zoom meeting (or any other UC or voice service) with no hassle. And an hour later, the same process takes place for your GoToMeeting invite without a single change in experience for the end users.
CB: What is the ultimate goal of ZiipRoom?
MB: World domination, one meeting room at a time.
We are the meeting experience people. Our mission is to bring the long-awaited improvements to the way people interact with meeting room technology. We do this by making interactions simple, consistent from meeting-to-meeting and technology-to-technology, and highly productive. We feel like we are saving lives by reducing the time that is wasted getting the technology to work at the start of each meeting. 10-15 minutes per person per meeting adds up quickly (just one of these delays each day equates to more than a full week of lost productivity across the year). We also see ourselves as unlocking true innovation and creativity for teams that can finally focus entirely on their objectives rather than how to get the call started, the presentation showing, the audio feedback silenced, or the screen resolution fixed… the list goes on.
Ultimately, we would like to become ‘the standard’ for providing connectivity between people and meetings space technology around the globe, for companies of all sizes and across all industries.
CB: How does ZiipRoom work?
MB: Collaboration in the workplace continues to evolve with the rise of huddle rooms, focus rooms and ‘hotels’, the demand for visual collaboration tools (sharing locally and into voice/video meetings) and the proliferation of cloud-based UC platforms and in-room A/V devices. Add to this the impact of the growing number of millennials in the workplace, their desire for inclusion and group collaboration over hierarchical decision making and their demands to use BYO devices and apps, and you’ll begin to appreciate why there are still so much confusion and frustration around meetings.
While each of the individual manufacturers and service providers has been consistently improving their piece of the puzzle, no one has been focused on the holistic meeting experience – across rooms, vendors, services, and devices.
Enter ZiipRoom™. ZiipRoom is the only software for huddle rooms purpose-built to connect people and technology to make every meeting experience consistent, simple, productive and free from vendor lock-in.
Our cloud-based service connects with our (free) apps on your BYO devices. We know when you’ve entered the room and what device you’re carrying. We immediately review your calendars (all of them, including Outlook, Google, iCalendar) and the room’s calendar, and we give you one-click options to join your meeting. With a single click, we connect you via whichever UC platform was intended for that particular meeting (Zoom, Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, WebEx, BlueJeans, your VoIP provider,…) and give you control of the experience (audio controls, camera controls, etc.) as well as one-click wireless presentations and the ability to merge voice callers from your own device, the phone in the room or accepting dial-in callers. We also provide a wireless presentation for “off-network” guests and insightful data on everything we connect (people, personal devices, calendars, UC platforms and the devices in the room) including real-time monitoring, alerts, and reports that include behavioral and trend analysis.
Our solution has three software components: apps for personal devices, software in the cloud and software in the meeting room (on a Windows 10-based device). We offer our service as a subscription on a per room, per year basis. We don’t sell any hardware, but we do intend to partner with other manufacturers to create time-saving bundles in the field (as part, but not all, of our go-to-market strategy). And, we are 100% vendor agnostic, so you can change any components at any time, and the MX (meeting experience) for end users never changes.
CB: The company is currently headquartered in Burlington. Why choose that area? Any particular reason?
MB: Our decision to be headquartered in Burlington was an important (and strategic) one for many reasons. From a location standpoint, Burlington is at the intersection of 128 and 93 and therefore convenient for us to access a larger potential workforce. Perhaps even more important is the rich history of technology innovation and talent located in this area across many areas, but especially in the areas of performing world-class software development that is critical to making our solution so unique.
CB: Who is ZiipRoom’s target market? Are there any customers that have signed up for it yet?
MB: ZiipRoom’s initial target market includes both Enterprise and Mid-Market organizations. We believe SMBs will also be interested in the simplicity and the value-add experience we offer, so we will be making our solutions viable for those customers as well.
We do not yet have GA for our solution, but we do have roughly a dozen customers ranging in size from SMB to Fortune 100 who are in different phases of beta evaluation with us. We definitely intend to convert these accounts to customer status at the appropriate time.
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
MB: The ZiipRoom team is currently comprised of roughly 30 people, including direct employees and full-time contractors.
CB: Is the company bootstrapped and/or currently seeking investments?
MB: The company was initially bootstrapped by the founders. In October 2017 we closed a Seed round of $1.35M, our first outside capital. We are just now closing a bridge round with primarily existing investors which will keep us funded through early 2019. We plan to do a Series A round in early 2019.
CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did ZiipRoom get its name?
MB: The usual: brainstorm a bunch of made-up words that loosely describe what we are doing, check for domain names and trademark infringement and choose the best available option. ZiipRoom with two I’s and two O’s is where we landed.