I consider myself a member of the ‘Skype-generation': I’ve never had to organise a traditional conference call in my life, although like other TechCrunch writers, I’ve had to join a few. Hosting one is a pain, apparently, as you have to juggle things like participant and leader PINs, country-specific dial-in numbers, and sending out the invites themselves.
Meetupcall, which today sees its official (re)launch, aims to address this to become the “simplest and quickest way” to host and join a conference call. Its headline feature is the ability to arrange a conference in seconds, simply by adding an appointment to your calendar app, after which Meetupcall takes care of the rest.
Nine months in the making, this is actually more of a re-boot for the UK company, which originally launched as a ‘me too’ conference call provider in 2009. “From an end-user perspective it worked the same way conference calls did in 1995″, says founder Simon Moxon. But after listening to feedback from customers — the company already claims 4,000 users in just over 2,000 organisations, all of whom will be migrating over to the new product — he set out to fix the most common problems faced by those needing to host or join a conference call.
To set up a conference call, the host simply adds an event to their calendar app of choice (e.g. Outlook or Google Calendar), entering the invitees’ email addresses as per-usual, only this time they also include email@example.com. The service then sends all delegates an email with tailored instructions on how to join the call, including a dial-in number based on their presumed location. They are also given the choice of being called a few seconds before the scheduled start time, further removing the pain of trying to remember dial-in numbers, PINs and the like.
Additionally, Meetupcall offers one-click dialing from smartphones by employing TEL:// URLs in the email invites sent out with a unique dial-string for each delegate. “Joining a traditional conference call at the scheduled start time means you have to know the dial-in number and PIN codes, and doing this from a mobile phone on the move isn’t easy. How do you read the dial-in instructions in your mail app, while typing in the PIN numbers on the phone app?”, says Moxon.
Finally, Meetupcall’s participant profiles show who is on the call including their name, photo, job title and location pulled from LinkedIn via any matched email.
“Speaking on a conference call if you’ve never met the delegates it can be confusing to know who is who. Are you negotiating with the CFO or a junior buyer? Are you selling to a young hipster or somebody older and more distinguished?”
(A hipster-alert, anyone?)
Moxon also notes that putting a face to a name can also be useful when the call is to be followed up by a face-to-face meeting.
However, Meetupcall’s participant profile feature isn’t nearly as ambitious as Disrupt winner UberConference, which is yet to fully launch (in the U.S., initially). A potential competitor if and when it does come to Europe, UberConference’s caller dashboard gives a real-time view of not only who is on the call, but also who is actually talking. In contrast, Meetupcall is focusing solely on keeping things simple. Other competitors include PGi, and Intercall.
Revenue-wise, Meetupcall offers a pay-as-you-go plan, along with a number of different monthly subscription tiers offering various features and conference call capacity and quantity.
The startup is based in UK, Doncaster, and is currently self-funded by Moxon.