Apr182011

“…finding the right talented people that have the mentality of… ‘got to do what it takes to grow the company’ and who share your vision… that’s one of the most challenging things because you’re not going to just put out an ad and find those people.”

Costin Tuculescu
Costin Tuculescu
anymeeting
Founder and CEO

Interview by Mike Sullivan

Costin Tuculescu is the founder and CEO of AnyMeeting, a completely free, ad-supported web conferencing and webinar service, which provides all of the premium features that WebEx and GoToWebinar offer.  With over 16,000 users since launch in 2010, AnyMeeting has seen tremendous viral growth with minimal marketing.  AnyMeeting recently closed a first round of capital from Pasadena Angels and Tech Coast Angels and is now aggressively scaling their operations and growth.

Mike:
Hi, I’m Mike Sullivan. Today joining us on M.O. is Costin Tuculescu. He’s the founder and CEO of AnyMeeting.com, formerly known as Freebinar. It’s an online meeting and conference service, which is free to use. Costin, I want to thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us a little about how you got involved in the industry?

Costin:
Sure. I’ve actually been involved with web conferencing and webcasting ever since I graduated college. My first job out of school was with a company called Digevent, and they were a startup. I ended up building out their entire software platform, and that was a great two or three stint with them.

After that, I went to another company. They wanted to get into the virtual online event space. So I helped them build that as well, although they had a falling out with their partners. I eventually decided that this was too hot of a space for me to not jump into.

As coder, I jumped in, built out our own platform. We worked with a lot of resellers providing privately branded solutions of a full web conferencing and video conferencing and webinar platform that we built out. Then we decided we see a huge market opportunity to offer this type of service for free using an ad-supported model. That’s how AnyMeeting came to be, and that’s where we are today.

Mike:
I’ve actually used the service and it was fantastic. However, I probably only tapped into a small percentage of what you can actually do. Can you talk a little bit about what the service is and some of the features?

Costin:
AnyMeeting is a full featured web conferencing and webinar platform. Meaning you can use it to share documents, collaborate with peers, and you can even meet with up to 200 attendees and give a full-fledged webinar marketing presentation/sales pitch/training. It’s essentially just like GoToWebinar but free.

With the recent rebranding from Freebinar to AnyMeeting, we also added the ability of video broadcasting. Now our users can webcast themselves. It’s a one-way video feed from their webcam, and their entire audience, up to 200 attendees, can see them.

We’ve got text chat. We’ve got polling. We also have all of the event management features, such as e-mail invitations. The system will send out the e-mail invitations. You can create a registration form with custom questions that you’d like your attendees to fill out. You can create a survey that pops-up at the end of your webinar. Best of all, you can record the entire meeting and we host it on our website. It’s available forever, and it’s very easy to share that.

One more feature to add, we also give our presenters a profile page, which they can upload their photo, say a little bit about their business, and it showcases all of their upcoming webinars, all of the past webinars they’ve recorded. They can post their LinkedIn profile, their Facebook page, their Twitter page, a whole social networking environment that they can take advantage of to possibly drive leads to their business or just share their online meeting and webinar experience.

Mike:
So, as I mentioned, your service is free, which is one of the best features about it. Have you found it difficult to run a business on that platform that is actually supported by advertisers as opposed to like a membership basis?

Costin:
No, not really. I mean, currently we’re using ad networks to get our inventory. We’re still ramping up the usage on the platform. Our main focus right now is to get users, to grow usage on the platform, get our name out there. We feel that the advertising revenue is a natural fit because we have a captive audience when people watch these webinars. It really hasn’t been a challenge. Our goal is to just really, over time, ramp up our relationships with advertisers and ad networks and show them the value that a webinar platform can serve to them as an ad delivery medium.

Mike:
What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

Costin:
I’d say, you know, one of the biggest challenges is building the team, finding the right people, and, so far, I’ve been very fortunate to grow the company with the right people on board. But finding the right talented people that have the mentality of, okay, got to do what it takes to grow the company and who share your vision, I think that’s one of the most challenging things because you’re not going to just put out an ad and find those people. It’s an ongoing process of networking and reaching out to your network. Going to mixers and kind of putting the word out there. It’s an ongoing process to build the team.

Costin Tuculescu

Mike:
What are some of your marketing strategies? How do you go about getting the word out to small business owners that can actually use this service?

Costin:
We’re big fans of SEO. Once you’re properly optimized and you come up organically, that’s gold. We’re constantly working on our SEO. SEM as well, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, I mean AdWords and Bing and all those, they offer good ROI. That’s where we focus.

We’re also looking to create relationships with associations that reach our target market, which are small businesses that are just starting out. They don’t really know if it’s worth paying for a webinar service. So, they try us out first.

So, really it’s kind of reaching out to those verticals and the online marketing has really been our two main business tools that we use for marketing.

Mike:
So, you just announced changing the name from Freebinar to AnyMeeting. Do you anticipate any difficulty with the transition in branding?

Costin:
When we made the announcement a few weeks ago that we will be transitioning the company to a new name, everybody loved the name. They got it. I think AnyMeeting has a much more professional feel to it. Some people are sensitive to the word free and we heard that. Even though Freebinar’s a great name, because it tells you exactly what it is, it’s a free webinar service, AnyMeeting gives us a broader scope, a broader identity, ties us up to do things like video conferencing and things other than just webinars. The transition has been smooth, and we’re very excited to keep pushing the product out to the market.

Mike:
What types of businesses can benefit from AnyMeeting? Who do you see your current customer as?

Costin:
Yeah, we’re really shooting for the small business, the startups, and non-profits, and associations. That’s what we’ve been getting. We’ve been getting a lot of home based businesses, small startups. We see a lot of network marketers leveraging our service because it gives them the ability to reach out to their entire down line or just put their message out on blast, as often as they need. They usually meet twice a week for training, for lead generation.

We’ve been seeing a lot of network marketing users. We’ve also been seeing a lot of educational usage and non-profits, as well. Everybody’s really budget conscious at this point. If you’re in our target market, which is people that are not really sensitive to those ads and are more budget conscious, then it’s a great fit for all those groups.

Mike:
Any new features to AnyMeeting coming up in the near future that you’d like to tell us about?

Costin:
We just released a couple of new features. We increased the capacity. We added video conferencing. We also added a feature that allows our hosts, once they’ve created a recording, they can trim the front and trim the back and then they can add cue points inside their recording to highlight interesting parts of the webinar that they’ve recorded.

We did that. We’re hoping that our user base loves what we’ve done. We definitely have more features that we will be rolling out, but don’t really want to put that on blast just yet. Got to keep people coming back to check what’s new every few weeks.

Mike:
Great. Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

Costin:
One thing that I do want to make perfectly clear is that this is a free forever service. We don’t intend on pulling any kind of bait-and-switch on our users. Our goal is really to provide a full-featured, all the capacity that we can deliver for free type service for free, with an ad-supported model. So what you see is what you get. No kind of bait-and-switch planned.

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