This Made In India video conferencing platform provides low-cost plans, customisations
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.
“If you want to watch a movie with 50-60 people you can just share it with them through Meet Hour. As soon as you pause it, it will stop for everyone else,” says Shoeb Ahmad Fareed, Chief Technology Evangelist at Meet Hour.
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.
“We did not end up winning the competition but we decided to bring Meet Hour to the market,” Shoeb, a serial entrepreneur, tells YourStory. Previously, Shoeb worked on developing Microsoft Teams, the tech giant’s video calling platform.
Meet Hour, which is run by US-based information technology firm V-Empower Inc., was launched in August 2020.
Meet Hour's team
The platform provides video and audio calling facilities at competitive prices. The introductory plan, which is free, 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 customised software for enterprise clients.
“An online fitness player reached out to us, requesting that we create a platform where the trainer can see all his clients but their customers should only see the trainer,” Shoeb says.
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.
Credit: YourStory Design
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 stream anything,” Shoeb says.
COVID-19 induced restrictions 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 customised plans for enterprises. The company competes with global giants including Zoom, Google, and Microsoft in the video calling market.