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Meet Aleks Gollu – Disrupting video communication with one click

Today we have selected Aleks Gollu to take his interview. He is the Founder and CEO of 11Sight.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We are living in unprecedented times. However, our team has been distributed across multiple cities and countries since our inception, so we were already geared towards remote engagement and online collaboration. We have been lucky, only one team member got COVID, and his symptoms were mild.

Tell us about your career and how you founded this company?

I come from Istanbul, Turkey. I did my undergraduate at MIT and Ph.D. at UC Berkeley.All in EECS.

My Co-founder Farokh Eskafi and I met at Berkeley while working on automated cars and highways in 1992. We were entrepreneurially-minded; our first startup was SMS applications for mobile phones when Motorola StarTac was the most advanced phone and the browser Netscape was recently launched. Customers would come to our website and list what they were interested in. Our system would send them relevant messages with their horoscopes, team results, stock prices, or any information pertinent to their interests. It was a bleeding-edge idea then, obsolete today.

After selling that company to one of our competitors, my co-founder and I  got interested in exploring RFID technology. We went separately and built companies delivering IoT solutions in the cloud. Farokh built a new RFID chip that had location tracking built-in. I co-founded a company that used off-the-shelf RFID technology and cloud computing to improve efficiency and reduce transportation and logistics costs. Both of us were able to sell these businesses successfully.

Farokh and I teamed up again in 2016 for our third venture. This time, we understood that video would be the future communication method. We wanted to create the fastest way for people to connect and the simplest way for businesses to engage with their customers online.

We knew Zoom had an online meeting need to be addressed, and WhatsApp and Skype needed two friends to talk to. We decided to focus on a problem that our technology companies have created with AI ChatBots, web forms, and a cumbersome online sales process. Remember back in the days when you would call a business directly and speak to a salesperson? Today, most salespeople have lost the ability to answer calls in real-time. Between chat, calendar scheduling, and web conferencing tools, it takes 2 to 5 days for a business to connect with a qualified customer, and 30%+ of potential deals get lost because of no-shows to meetings, interest, or competitors getting ahead.

How does your company innovate?

The foundation of our platform is an e-line. We pioneered this technology. An e-line is a personal and dedicated link that enables you to receive video, audio, or chat calls from anywhere on the web.

Our solution is simple; you can call me at https://vcall.link/aleksgollu.This is my e-line. It combines the device independence of an e-mail with the real-time nature of a phone line. You can call me from any device (with a camera and browser) without any downloads or appointments, and I can answer the call on any device I am logged in to.

While the solution is simple, we have a sophisticated platform that combines the real-time nature of Facetime with telephony features like 3-way calling, call transfer, meeting rooms like that of Zoom, and many other capabilities. The platform can also be integrated into sales and marketing tools and configured to address different business needs.

Below is a quick video demonstrating how we help sales teams become more efficient and close more deals

The customer starts the call with one click from any browser or mobile device; no downloads or appointments are required.

  • Before the call, the solution provides background information straight from the CRM.
  • After the call, a sales representative can add notes that will go straight to the CRM.
  • Most importantly, we help sales teams close more deals faster while keeping customers satisfied.

Some of the solution elements we have patented, others we keep as a trade secret.

We found that making “a” call to connect is easy, making sure ‘every” call connects from anywhere on the web is difficult, and if a call does not connect, figuring out what went wrong and remedying it in the next call is almost impossible. We managed to do all three!

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

I think the Coronavirus has taught us that we can continue engaging and doing business remotely far more than we had realized. I remember the days I’d fly round trip SF-Chicago just for a 1-hour meeting, to see eye-to-eye with my customers. While online interactions are not a replacement for breaking bread with someone, not every interaction requires boarding a plane or driving to a specific meeting location.

The truth is that every industry segment is reinventing itself. Those who complete their digital transformation will come out ahead, stronger.

In our case, it was a big boost to our company. We evangelized online interactions, put people back in the loop, and reduced wasted travel time… All became a reality.

We now find that the leading players in the sales/marketing industry have caught up to the fact that people need to be part of the process, and interactions need to be real-time.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons?

Change management is hard. We are all set in our ways. As they say, if it is not broken, why fix it. The pandemic broke many aspects of the way businesses operate.

Luckily, what does not kill us, makes us stronger. As I said, those capitalizing on these forced changes as an opportunity to reinvent how they operate are all coming ahead.

So, the pandemic taught us the main lesson: the need to innovate, adapt, and continuously rethink how we operate.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Since our team is remote and distributed, we live in our tools. The ability to quickly connect via video has been a lifesaver for quick decisions and sharing knowledge. Additionally, having prospects video call us from the website or anywhere on the web-enabled us to grow exponentially between 2020 and 2021.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Competition comes in different formats… From phone lines to scheduling tools, chatbots, website forms, and anything that adds friction to online selling and collaboration. We have the first-mover advantage in our segment, patents, and a roadmap to protect that advantage. Remote engagement via video is here to stay. We will continue adding more Integrations and capabilities to our existing platform to enable our customers to collaborate more effectively and successfully deliver on their promises in this new decentralized and hyper-digital world.

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