Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microsoft Cloud, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Put the Power in PowerPoint by Creating Meaningful Connections | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Interview with Zeetings CEO Rob Kawalsky

Put the Power in PowerPoint by Creating Meaningful Connections with Audiences

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what is Zeetings all about and what do you do?

Rob Kawalsky: Zeetings is a cloud-based presentation and content interaction platform that transforms an audience from passive viewers into active participants. We believe presentations are more than a set of slides-they are about building a connection between presenters and their audiences. We also believe that great outcomes are achieved not just by talking but by listening. Zeetings creates this genuine connection between presenters and audiences, changing the paradigm from a one-way monologue to a two-way conversation. Unlike a traditional presentation, a "zeeting" is a social and interactive experience accessible via any connected device, coupled with data-driven analytics to help hosts understand what their content community is thinking.

What did you just launch?

Kawalsky: We've launched a new SaaS platform that provides meeting hosts with the power of audience engagement and actionable insights in an interactive, collaborative workspace based in the cloud. Zeetings transforms real-time, face-to-face and remote presentations by turning passive audiences into active participants, shifting the communication paradigm from one-way presentations into dynamic, two-way conversations. Zeetings also keeps presenters and participants connected with each other and the content so that the conversation can continue once the meeting ends.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?

Kawalsky: Zeetings can enrich any kind of presentation, whether it is on a stage in front of 2,000 people or in a meeting room with your team. Zeetings is also great for those times you simply want to share your presentation but also want to create the impact of having delivered it personally. Whenever you want to get your message across and engage your audience, Zeetings is the easiest, most powerful way to make it happen.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on market trends...

Kawalsky: For me, a big trend is a shift from software making enterprise workflows more efficient to software actually transforming the nature of work itself. From increasing employment flexibility to traditional decision-making frameworks being upended by data-driven automation, segment after segment of the enterprise are changing. This creates an incredible number of opportunities for cloud computing.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Kawalsky: Everyone who uses it, loves it. Each time a presentation is delivered via Zeetings, we see participants get excited and many create accounts right away. During the closed beta testing period, Zeetings had over 50,000 people participate in a zeeting. Companies such as eBay, which used Zeetings for its SXSW presentation in 2015, Ernst & Young, Hewlett-Packard and the X Prize Foundation all took part in our beta and have responded very enthusiastically.

How will you make money? What's the business model?

Kawalsky: We are currently focused on creating the absolute best experience possible for people using Zeetings. It's free to use for an unlimited number of presentations with an unlimited number of participants. In time, we will be introducing premium capabilities that will be subscription-based. People will have the option to upgrade or stay with the current service as is.

Who are your competitors?

Kawalsky: Zeetings complements existing presentation authoring tools such as PowerPoint by boosting their capabilities and providing actionable analytics. For remote meetings, Zeetings works very well with audio- and video-conferencing services such as GoToMeeting or Skype by supplying a workspace for participants to collaborate in and continue the conversation once the meeting ends.

There are competing products in particular verticals that are complex to learn and use, such as ClearSlide in sales, whereas simplicity is core to Zeetings. There are also a number of products that provide discrete aspects of Zeetings, such as polling or slide broadcasting, but Zeetings mixes these services together in a way that uniquely stimulates conversations.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Kawalsky: We are really shifting the paradigm for in-person and remote meetings and online webinars by empowering presenters and participants to engage in two-way conversations. Uniquely, Zeetings allows these conversations to happen both in real-time and asynchronously, and leverages this engagement to help presenters really understand their audiences through insightful analytics.

Zeetings is extremely easy to use, works on all connected devices, and works with existing presentation software, such as PowerPoint, rather than forcing users to learn a new way to create presentations.

How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Kawalsky: Zeetings is completely cloud-based, works with any modern browser, and is responsive to screen size. An important aspect of the platform is maintaining the fidelity of the presentations people upload to Zeetings. Unlike competing products, we preserve all the tricky bits of people's presentations, such as animation. Zeetings also has been built from the ground up to support the security needs of enterprises so that content can be deployed with appropriate information protection standards.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Kawalsky: Zeetings will disrupt the presentation space by replacing the traditional monologue presentation with dynamic, multifaceted dialogue. This is a huge transformation. Audiences are given a voice and presenters are empowered with data-driven insights. More than this, Zeetings is a way to intelligently distribute content and gather insights against that content so it has the potential to completely disrupt data-gathering efforts such as surveys.

Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Kawalsky: About two years ago, we were in the audience of a pitch event in Palo Alto. We experienced what too many people who have sat in presentations have experienced: out-dated technology, death by PowerPoint, mishaps in getting started and a disconnect between the presenters and the audience. The audience was being talked at and had no outlet by which to have its voice heard. Mobile technology offers the potential to change all that-to facilitate a dynamic, digital conversation around a piece of content that connects people and helps them learn from each other.

I have three co-founders. It's a privilege to work with each of them. Adam Schuck was on the founding team of Google Wave as the tech lead of the Google Wave Client. Adam was later the tech lead of Julpan, which was acquired by Twitter, and he ultimately became head of Twitter's New York City engineering team. Tony Surtees is a past VP and GM of Yahoo!'s commerce group in the U.S.A., with operational and board level experience across a range of digital businesses. Neill Miller has been building technology businesses for over 45 years, including taking five technology companies public and architecting the merger of Unidata and Vmark, which was subsequently merged with Informix and sold to IBM for $2.5 billion.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Kawalsky: Zeetings can be accessed by creating an account at zeetings.com. You can be up and running in under a minute.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Kawalsky: Each time we speak with our users, they express an insatiable appetite for deeper analytics and actionable insights. We are designing exciting, new ways for people to engage with content in a manner that helps presenters understand what resonates and what doesn't, and what points of view are held by those in the room.

Are you targeting a first VC round? If yes when and what will you use the funds for? How much money is being sought?

Kawalsky: We are not currently fundraising but we will be seeking a VC round in the medium term.

What else would you like to add?

Kawalsky: We are extremely excited by the response Zeetings has received so far and we want to continue building its capabilities in concert with our user community. We are extremely grateful for the input, requests and stories our users share with us. Zeetings has been used to help bring to the surface issues that employees are otherwise reluctant to discuss, to help keep students engaged through challenging materials, and to empower startups to share their visions. Each of these stories inspires us and helps us shape the product.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Silicon Valley and Paris, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Blockchain, Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Tip her if you like her articles: http://xeniar.tip.me

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Contextual Analytics of various threat data provides a deeper understanding of a given threat and enables identification of unknown threat vectors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Dufour, Head of Security Architecture, IoT, Webroot, Inc., discussed how through the use of Big Data analytics and deep data correlation across different threat types, it is possible to gain a better understanding of where, how and to what level of danger a malicious actor poses to an organization, and to determin...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.