Future Of Collaboration Technology Thoughts By CEO & Founder, Bird AI
There is a significant, global need for more flexible types of work as we move past pandemic constraints, particularly to maintain some distant work. This is where the need for Hybrid working solutions comes into place, Nishant Rajawat, CEO & Founder, of Bird AI shares his thoughts about the industry scenario and its future
Brief us about your company, its business model, and its operations.
Bird AI is a global collaborative technology company developing interactive hybrid teamwork solutions that bridge the gap between the physical and digital presence in communicating better and working together efficiently from anywhere. Established in 2021, Bird AI builds intelligent collaboration tools for workspaces and education that not only to allow any physical space to be digitised & interactive, but also make the tools & content accessible to all the in-room & remote attendees at all times, from any device. Bird AI currently operates on an annual subscription-based revenue model for our products with a one-time setup fee and a recurring charge for the software.
What are the unique key points (USP) of your company?
Bird AI offers a true hybrid collaboration solution in the market today. Not only do our meeting solutions work in face-to-face or remote meeting modes – but also in hybrid mode in the same way without changing any tools or usage patterns. The unique key point of our company is that we have taken the best from the digital conferencing technology i.e., flexibility and cost benefits and combined it together with the in-person collaboration features i.e., the clarity, the flawless exchange of information and productivity. This creates the solution with the best of both worlds custom-built for hybrid collaboration.
How are you different from the existing competitors?
By taking a cloud-connected software first approach to collaboration – we have created a disruption in existing status quo of collaboration technology. The biggest differentiator we have against any of the existing solutions is our ability to work seamlessly in the hybrid environment wherein meetings can be all in-person, all remote or with a mixed presence. The usual video conferencing tech is irrelevant and unusable in F2F meetings and provides a limited collaborative experience in remote and hybrid ones. And the room-based collaboration tools like whiteboard and post-it’s become redundant in remote and hybrid meetings. Therefore, the market needed a solution that can offer high-quality collaborative experience in any meeting mode, and we fulfill that expectation.
What is the monetization model?
We operate on an annualized recurring revenue model in which we charge a fixed one-time setup fee for any space and then an annual subscription for our software services. The basic version of our software and cloud platform will always be free (as per FUP), but the advanced users can choose to pay a subscription fee based on their usage to access the additional features.
What challenges are you facing in running your business?
Our biggest challenge currently is to cater to the vast market opportunity we are facing. Our technology can have a global impact but to reach the global customers that we can bring these solutions too – in a rapid, short period of time, is a major challenge. However, we are expanding fast and already have an active business in 20+ countries and national-level resellers appointed in 10 countries so far.
Impact of the pandemic? How has been your customer's response so far post-lockdown?
While speaking about the progress, the numbers do all the talking - we have witnessed incredible 5x growth in the last year with still 4 months to go in the financial year (Apr-Mar). The changing definition of the workplace and demand for technology-driven solutions post the pandemic is something which has boosted our sales and demand for our products. Over the last few years, we have observed a constant rise in the adoption of hybrid work culture by most of the companies and other institutions and we can say that this is the future of work and going to stay for a longer period. Besides the education sector has seen a big surprise boost in demand as educators and policymakers have realized the potential of technology in the learning process and are now approving the mass adoption of smart technology and software into the classrooms.
What are the traction details (achievements of the company)?
Bird AI is making its mark both globally and locally. Worldwide, in some of top conferences like BETT London, ISE, AV Awards, and IDA – the product has received awards or finalist spots with the biggest names in technology like Google and Microsoft. Within 6 months of launch, we already are powering more than 20000 spaces with our technology worldwide. We also have garnered one of the biggest education deployment orders in the Philippines and in India, our BrightClass app deployments now are crossing more than 10K classrooms. Within the first six months of our company's existence, we established relationships with distributors in 10+ countries and have active sales in twice as many across the globe.
How do you look at expansion?
We have a solid presence now in the countries of South & Southeast Asia, India, and Europe, and now we are eyeing an expansion to the American market gradually. We are getting an active demand from north American customers already and have made a few sales – but we plan to establish a formal presence in the region within this year. In India, we recognize the tremendous potential as the emerging IT hub, and we are looking at aggressive growth.
What are your marketing plans?
Our marketing plan is basically aligned with different cohorts of our potential customers. For enterprise product range, we use online channels for creating brand awareness and customer & partner lead enquires for our products. We have built a channel connect program which involves continuous nurturing of the partners who are associated with us by enabling them with essential sales collaterals, providing benefits like lead sharing, allocating MDFs & many more.
Events also play a major role as part of our marketing plan. Recently we took part at Infocomm India and launched a few product lines. We received great responses from 700+ AV partners and end customers. We are also planning to be at ISE, Barcelona and InfoComm US coming year.
The second category of the D2C segment includes the users who have tutoring requirements or are workforce-exercising work from home. We have leveraged on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, and Flipkart for marketing. Direct shopping ads on Google, and product reviews through influencers have also been very successful.
What has been the biggest learning so far?
We have multiple learnings in both product and sales side of our business -
A strong need for swift wireless and one-cable solutions
Some enterprises made us notice that they are struggling to connect to multiple devices & cables in the meeting room like to external cameras, mics, casting dongles, charging cables & many more. This has resulted in the development of Hyper-C technology, one cable solution to connect to the display and many other accessories in the meeting room
Importance of content collaboration in meetings
Along with video and audio, content plays a critical role in meetings. Access to content, displaying the content on the screen and making it visible to the remote participants all have been a challenge to an enterprise. But our past learnings about the market in building the products with software first approach and expertise team started developing a collaboration workspace. This workspace allows users to connect wirelessly by scanning a QR code on display.
Creating products that fits well in the existing infrastructure
Customers express disappointment when they need to restore the existing infrastructure and invest in new devices again. Bird AI retrofit series is the result of such responses from the market. For meeting rooms, our research says that more than 60per cent are already deployed with displays, where the BirdHub series become the only available option in the industry to upgrade to an all-in-collaboration display.
What are the market size and opportunity?
In terms of opportunities, we are looking at the Indian landscape as a great opportunity for us. The demand has been increasing as there is aggressive adoption of remote working culture at the enterprises and firms.
The hybrid working module will stay here permanently as the 86 per cent of the global corporates are now switching to the hybrid module. We have a broad product portfolio for enterprises switching to the new working model. As per a recent survey the total market potential of the meeting rooms, classrooms, SOHO users & online tutors comes to $ 121Bn and the collaboration market is projected to grow 3X in the next two years.
The growing trends of hybrid working models and digital markets have created a favourable market environment for us and we believe that we can surpass an ARR of $100M within the next 2-3 years.
What are your future plans?
Plans for the near future (For FY23)
We're excited to grow our reach by adding more partners and being more visible online. We hope to increase our revenue by 10 times in the next 10–12 months, which would be about $15–20 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). We want to increase the size of our cloud infrastructure, team, and production capacity so that we can keep up with the high demand for the Bird technology. We are getting active inbound interest from India and US-based investors, and we also now plan to secure our next round of growth capital in next few months.
Long-term plans (By 2025)
By 2024 or 2025, we want to have more than $100 million in ARR and want to be the de-facto solution for teams to collaborate worldwide. We are working hard to make our software and design more adaptable and productive for our users for hybrid collaboration to achieve this vision.
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