From school classes, work meetings to exercise and cooking tutorials, COVID-19 pushed a majority of everyday interactions online. While Zoom became synonymous with video conferencing in the initial days of the pandemic, several technology companies such as Microsoft and Google soon joined the race.
Meet Hour, developed by Hyderabad-based developer Shoeb Ahmad Fareed, is trying to fit into the crowded video conferencing space. Its key selling points are ease of access and competitive plans. Users do not need to create an account or buy a subscription to get started. The video interface can also be live streamed over YouTube.
Shoeb is also CTO with V-Empower Inc., a US-based product development company, which owns about 75 percent stake in Meet Hour.
The platform can be accessed all across the world but is majorly used in India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, and Germany.
The hackathon that paved the way for a platform
Meet Hour’s journey began during a hackathon conducted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology between April and June 2020.
The platform provides video and audio calling facilities at competitive prices. The free introductory plan lets users host up to 100 people for meetings, provides virtual backgrounds, a call recording feature, and screen shares on desktops and mobiles.
While Zoom’s free account also allows users to host 100 people on a call, the meetings can only be held for 30 minutes and 40 minutes. Zoom’s plans also range between Rs 1,300 and Rs 1,800 every month. Meet Hour, on the other, hand charges Rs 752 ($9.99) and Rs 1,504 ($19.99) for the same duration.
The platform claims to have over one lakh downloads, as of July, with more than 80,000 active customers and eight to nine enterprises. The user repeat rate stands at 20-25 percent, Shoeb says, adding that the Hyderabad-based company does not store any recorded calls or videos as of now.
Building for enterprises
Apart from video conferencing solutions for customers, Meet Hour provides customized software for enterprise clients.
Users usually find it challenging to follow exercise moves and get their postures right while taking online fitness classes.
According to Shoeb, a few other enterprises from Kuwait and the UAE, among other countries, are also looking for better conferencing solutions.
Meet Hour is also seeing use cases in a few African nations due to its easy sync feature. “All a user needs to do is share their screen with everyone. They can also do this on other apps like YouTube and live to stream anything,” Shoeb says.
COVID-19 induced restrictions that accelerated internet adoption. There were 622 million active internet users in 2020, and this number is expected to reach 900 million by 2025 across urban and rural areas, according to an IAMAI-Kantar ICUBE report.
Meet Hour, which is looking to raise a new round of funding, definitely has an edge due to lower prices and customized plans for enterprises. The company competes with global giants including Zoom, Google, and Microsoft in the video calling market.