First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gilles Bertaux: Thank you very much for asking 🙂
Doing well, I was lucky and wasn’t personally impacted by the pandemic yet. Over here in France, things look somewhat under control, even if there are a few signs of a second wave coming. People seem to be a lot better at wearing masks, and social distancing and I hope we’ll keep it that way!
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined Livestorm
Gilles Bertaux: I graduated from a web-oriented school in France called HETIC, which gives a solid basis to become a developer, designer, or generally a SaaS or B2C startup founder. During my last years, I was interning as a growth marketer and engineer at Mention, a french SaaS. We were doing webinars but very frustrated with the lack of options for a fully integrated, well-designed solution. So I decided to create Livestorm with 3 of my mates at HETIC.
In the cursus, the final exam was actually to create a prototype for a startup, with a viable business plan. The project we worked on was the first iteration of a webinar platform that became Livestorm. After we graduated, we decided to launch the company and see where it would take us. That was in 2016. And now here we are, 4 years later with 40 employees!
What was originally a webinar software evolved to a fully integrated video communications platform for business, and is used by 3000+ companies around the world. We have startup/scale-up customers like Intercom, Spendesk, Front, and enterprise customers from a wide range of industries, from telecom to banking and pharmaceutical groups.
How does Livestorm innovate?
Gilles Bertaux: Livestorm’s mission is to provide a unified video communications platform for companies, from SMBs to enterprises.
The current ecosystem has been focusing on the live video part of communications. A few years ago (and some would say even today), the very basic part of being able to host flawless video communications was still a struggle. Now, this has gotten drastically better.
Livestorm innovated by allowing to host large scale events and webinars without having to download or install any piece of software. Everything runs from the web browser, which eliminates a lot of friction. That was our first innovation.
More and more now, we’re noticing that the missing part is actually the infrastructure that goes around online events: the registration page, automated emails reminding registrants and following up after the event, analytics and integrating with other tools. That’s where we’re innovating today: by offering an end-to-end online event platform that does all the hard work for you, without needing to spend hours upon hours on setup.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you Coping?
Gilles Bertaux: We’re actually part of the lucky crowd whose business was positively affected by the pandemic. We’ve always known that the future of work was remote. But the pandemic has really shown that any company can adapt to working remotely (and those who can’t, really struggle). It has hugely increased demand for video communications platforms such as Livestorm.
As a company, our issues during the 2 months of global lockdown was actually answering the demand. The support queue times increased because we didn’t have the staff to face the increase we saw (x10 usage between February and April). We hired drastically to face this situation, and are only now returning to our usual level of high quality, fast support.
As for moving to remote work ourselves, this was rather easy since already about 1/3rd of our workforce was working from home in various corners of the world. During lockdowns, everyone stayed home and we managed to apply the principles that were already working to the whole company. Now that the lockdown (confinement) has ended in France, we are still only partially back in the office, allowing everyone to keep working remotely. So I would say internally, the period went pretty well and helped us move even further towards embracing remote work and creating a fun, stable remote environment.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices and what are the Lessons Learned?
Gilles Bertaux: Not really in the sense that our workforce actually grew during this time. I’d say the difficulties were rather to face the high support demand and trying our best given how understaffed we were compared to the demand in mid-march to may.
Same for the stability of the Livestorm platform. We basically had to implement the infrastructure changes that were originally planned for 2021 in a few weeks.
In the end, all of this allowed for incredible growth and I’m very confident in the future for Livestorm.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety, how do you Project yourself and Livestorm in the Future?
Gilles Bertaux: This is rather a message for everyone, but being future proof means being remote-friendly, there is no way around it. If we were to see a resurgence of Covid, it’s important that companies that weren’t ready for the first wave are ready for the second one. It’s important to be able to keep operating even in a remote setting and have processes in place that make communication flow between all teammates outside of the office. That increases trust throughout the company.
In our case, we keep on hiring to ensure we don’t find ourselves understaffed anymore. We started 2020 with about 20 people and are now 40; we should be about 50 by the end of 2021. Having the right people is really a huge stress relief because you know that no matter what happens, you can trust the team to deliver and solve the issues.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to Stay in the Game?
Gilles Bertaux: There are many competitors in the video conferencing and webinar space. Obviously the old guard is still there, such as GoToWebinar or Webex. Of course, the not-so-old but already well-developed Zoom is there too.
We managed to keep a steady growth no matter what our competitors are doing. The video conferencing market is a billion*s* dollar industry, so there’s room for many actors in the space. The winners will be the ones who understand the new remote-first reality we live in. We’ll keep working on our vision for unified video experience while working on flawless native integrations.
Your Final Thoughts
Gilles Bertaux: Thanks for giving me a space to share my experience with Livestorm! I really appreciate it!
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