Since the implementation of a national lock-down we have witnessed an aggressive adoption of video conferencing technologies such as Google Meet, Zoom and Microsoft Teams as the go-to resources for hosting virtual gatherings ranging from mini-concerts to online classes as well as company meetings, room.sh is a South African born solution produced by the team that produced SkillUp and Lessonspace and it is openly positioning itself as a locally produced David slaying the globally dominant Goliaths.
“While we were building Lessonspace (Zoom for education), we found a need to have more productive online meetings within our own team. We started using a mix of platforms to achieve this because we operated as a remote team,” says Henshall.
Claiming the market space
Henshall and his team of designers and engineers built the platform with specific intentions in mind and an innovative strategy that would set them apart from the get-go.
One of the bullet points in their strategy to claim their position in the international market is by ensuring that the platform can lure any digital-savvy user regardless of where they are in the world.
“Our goal is to provide the best service and use that as a unique selling point. And not put too much focus on affordability as a user attraction technique,” he says.
“We wanted to target big-ticket size deals that would enable us to re-invest in our own product with business to customer deals and eventually securing business to business agreements for room.sh deployment,” he adds.
5 key innovation drivers
- Travelling boosts creativity
According to Henshall, innovation (in simple terms) is an ability to observe an existing idea and adapt it into an environment that it has never been deployed in before and achieving outstanding results while doing so.
“For this reason, travelling is a huge way to enhance your ability to see things from a different perspective and hone in on the ability to apply cross-disciplinary solutions to a problem.”
2.Spot the opportunity
When Henshall launched his first startup SkillUp, he did so with the intention of reducing commission fees. This was one attribute that was going to set the platform apart from it’s competitors.
Similarly (with room.sh), his team was using Meet, Docs and a whiteboard to describe and collate meeting minutes and ideas. room.sh’s goal is to combine all these resources into one platform.
- Allow necessity to drive innovation
room.sh was initially built because the team that was building Lessonspace needed it. They started using it themselves and decided to bring it to the market targeted at teams that employed a similar production model as Henshall’s team did.
- Understand your market
The difference between Silicon Valley and the emerging markets is that it is easier to raise and attract capital with a great idea or product or service(in Silicon Valley). If it fails, there are still ample opportunities to try again.
In emerging markets the approach is different. Capital is available but not easy to secure, and the investors aren’t very forgiving when ideas flop. The failure of one idea could create a massive barrier for future ideas.
After building room.sh as an in-house system that assisted the team with their processes, Henshall and his team gained a greater understanding of how the platform (room.sh) would be capable of finding its feet in the targeted market.
- Sell it.
The most important part of the process is ensuring that once you have built the product or service and identified who it would serve best, it is important to make sure that it reaches them. The sales element is just as equally important as the conceptualisation, design, engineering and testing phase. Just sell it, and sell it well.
CEO and co-founder of room.sh Matthew Henshall shares his expertise on how survival driven innovation has boosted the market positioning of his tech start-up in the face of adverse challenges and details the five important things to keep top of mind when producing game-changing technologies.