TenHands HD Video Collaboration I Founders Interview

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What is TenHands and why the name?

The “TenHands” name emerged from the concept and philosophy of John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach, who emphasized the value of teamwork and insisted that all ten hands (five players) touch the ball before shooting. TenHands’ vision is to enable every person and organization to collaborate more effectively and get more done together anywhere without boundaries.

When was it launched?

TenHands was Incorporated on January 11, 2011 and launched its first alpha service in November of 2011, private beta in April 2011 and open beta in July 2012.

Who are the founders and their backgrounds?

Co-founder and CEO Mark Weidick was VP and General Manager of Cisco’s TelePresence Video Exchange where he was responsible for a team of 150 developers that built and supported video exchange platforms for AT&T and other Service Providers.

Co-founder and COO Jack Blaeser was President of BT Conferencing Inc. where he led the incubated startup to $300m in revenues as the fastest growing Service Provider for Collaboration services to include video, web, and audio.

Co-founder and Lead Architect Venkatesh Venkataraman led architecture for Cisco’s TelePresence Video Exchange where the first B2B interoperability TelePresence Exchange was built.

Co-founder and lead software developer Anil Kumar was a led software engineer for WebEx.

What inspired you to come up with the idea?

The TenHands team realized that there were powerful macro technological and social trends emerging that could be leveraged to deliver simple affordable video collaboration for businesses in a way that has never been done before.

First, billions of users were being enabled for HD video virtually overnight by the proliferation of powerful smartphones, tablets and computers with built-in cameras and availability of high-speed Internet access.  Further, growing familiarity of video from streaming applications such as Netflix and YouTube and real-time video service Skype were driving the consumerization of video and BYOD expectation to the workplace.

However, TenHands’ “special sauce” is in its groundbreaking architecture as the 1st to deliver personal (desktop, mobile) video as a virtualized cloud computing solution and the 1st to commercialize WebRTC - the catalyst behind the effort to revolutionize the way we use our browsers to communicate. In the same way the browser revolutionized the way we access information 15 years ago, WebRTC will transform the browser to become the primary mode of video and audio communication.

As a result, TenHands has leapfrogged Skype, WebEx and others architecturally and gained disruptive cost advantages that tan slates to great affordability and the ability to enable video on any device with a browser anywhere in the world without the need for additional hardware or software.

What does TenHands do?

TenHands delivers simple, affordable HD video collaboration for businesses in a way that has never been done before. Our first-of-its-kind architecture yields a delivery cost model that is highly disruptive and that translates to great affordability for our customers. Our attention to ease of use makes TenHands approachable to the masses in the same way that many popular/viral consumer applications are.

TenHands is also a platform that others can use to deliver real-time communications in any browser-based application, from Enterprise Social and Collaboration Applications like Jive, Salesforce and Box to applications that are more oriented toward consumers such as Facebook (check out at https://apps.facebook.com/tenhands) or Yahoo. TenHands integrates seamlessly within the workflow of the host application so that end users gain access to video as an easy-to-use mode of communication.

Our client software is a true browser plug-in (no Flash) that’s based on Google’s WebRTC open source project. We extended WebRTC to deliver HD video in Chrome, IE, Safari and Firefox on both Mac and Windows; iPads, Android devices and smart phones are next. The result is a 2Mbyte royalty free plug-in that is remarkably easy to integrate with other web-based applications.  As Google and other browser makers add real time video and audio capability to the browser, we will end up with a “no software required” delivery model.We use Amazon’s EC2 for video/audio switching on commodity servers in a fully-virtualized environment. This enables on-demand scalability and delivery cost advantages that MCU-based providers like Citrix, Vidyo or Webex cannot achieve and won’t be able to pursue without massive architectural changes. We even have the ability to run in partner or customer own data centers where desired. Today we run TenHands on a fungible QoS enabled network that we buy. It has 0% packet loss and 14 PoPs with STUN/TURN infrastructure for firewall and NAT traversal.

How would it work for a casual consumer?

TenHands is built for simplicity and ease of use for anyone to use anywhere without boundaries and barriers. It’s free so all can access – other business tools charge $30 per user/month and more, Skype charges $8 per user/month for group calling. It uses the browser and today only requires a small plug-in and soon won’t require any software download (with upgrades to Chrome and WebRTC browsers) so that any device is enabled and any user can launch or receive a call instantly – others require client downloads or use flash which is being eliminated and not supported by Apple devices. It has the features that you want but only those to simplify the user experience and prevent feature bloat.

Accounts are free so feel free to use at www.tenhands.net. Or check out one of our integrated services (Facebook) at https://apps.facebook.com/tenhands.

Any funding?

TenHands is venture backed by Trinity Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. Exact terms are not released.

Any business partnerships?

TenHands has integrations with Facebook, Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, Jive, LogMeIn, and others. TenHands has a powerful platform that enables partners to easily add Real-Time Communiations (RTC) for video and voice. TenHands integrates seamlessly within the workflow of the host application so that end users gain access to video as an easy-to-use mode of communication.

What’s the Business Model?

TenHands offers its full featured service for free under its beta program. After beta TenHands will continue to offer its full feature service for free up to 3 hours per user/month. Unlimited full feature service beyond 3 hours per user/month will cost $10.

How unique are you from the competition if you have any?

TenHands is unique as it is the 1st to deliver personal (desktop, mobile) video as a virtualized cloud computing solution and the 1st to commercialize WebRTC - the catalyst behind the effort to revolutionize the way we use our browsers to communicate. As a result, TenHands delivers:

  1. Business grade HD video for free (freemium) – other business tools charge $30 per user/month and more, Skype charges $8 per user/month for group calling
  2. Browser interface today only requires a small plug-in and soon won’t require any software download (with upgrades to Chrome and WebRTC browsers) so that any device is enabled and any user can launch or receive a call instantly – others require client downloads or use flash which is being eliminated and not supported by Apple devices.
  3. API based platform that enables partners to easily add Real-Time Communiations (RTC) for video and voice

Who is your target user?

Primary target are knowledge workers in SMB and large businesses that benefit from person-to-person communications when they cannot do so in person. Use cases include team managers with disperse workforce, salespersons engaging with clients, software developers practicing Agile with daily interactions, recruiters looking to quality candidates faster and more effectively; or any case where travel could be supplemented by a virtual meeting.

Consumers are welcome to use TenHands.net for their own use as well.

What is your driving force?

TenHands is driven to change the way people work to get more done and collaborate more effectively underpinned by the John Wooden philosophy of teamwork and all ten hands working effectively together.

Have you had any challenges?

TenHands experiences the typical challenges of a start-up business to include the desire to change the world overnight with limited resources. However, what we have accomplished in a short period is a testament to the capability of a focused team with a powerful vision and innovative aspiration. On a practical basis, the most significant challenge is managing through the thousands of different ‘end user’ environments that our users have in various computing and network environments.

Future plans?

TenHands will soon become Generally Available and add mobile support for iPhone, iPads and Droids as well as a long list of exciting advancements.

Any user stats at the moment?

TenHands currently has over a thousand different companies represented in its user base even though we are still in open beta.

What would you like to share with our readers?

The Dirty Secrete – Turning Interoperability on its head

While much is made of the lack of interoperability between video endpoints and the resulting missed business opportunities in productivity, there resides a solution that is so transformative that it will kill much of the existing market and revolutionize the very notion of video at your fingertips. There is a tremendous multi-billion dollar business growing around building infrastructure to support interoperability amongst different video hardware and video endpoints. But few realize, and many don’t want you to know, that it is all about to change faster than anyone realizes as the everyday browser incorporates advanced capability so that solutions such as TenHands can provide high quality HD video on any device, anywhere without any hardware or software – all for free. After all, what greater ubiquity is there if all you needed was a standard browser to run 720 HD video from any room or device anywhere in the world? And then, imagine if it worked natively with almost any other popular cloud based application. That is the ultimate in interoperability and can be experienced today with TenHands, the first to deliver real-time video as a true virtualized cloud-computing solution using HTML5 and WebRTC.

Platform of the Future

As the 1st to deliver a true software-free, browser-based HD video solution that requires no software or hardware and can be used with any device TenHands sets the stage for transformative business uses in multi-billion $ applications for call centers, telemedicine, and e-learning.

Sam Wakoba

Sam Wakoba travels around the world's technology hubs and events writing about startups, VC’ s and ventures. Spends nights reviewing trending gadgets, ICT initiatives, and disrupting technology.

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