The future of work is going to be remote, and video communication is at the core of it. Video communication has already become the default mechanism for delivering various services. It is the new normal. As most people are working from home due to the global pandemic, there comes a sudden need for tools and platforms to help people shift their businesses online. Many enterprises and organisations have started considering video conferencing as an ultimate solution to connect with workers, clients, customers, and employees. Independent professionals - solopreneurs - have started delivering sessions online with their training, coaching, and consulting datasets. There is an evident rise on both ends, be it the experts willing to help out people and share their knowledge about a particular field, or the stakeholders, willing to keep themselves occupied and productive, by learning new skills, working on their hobbies, and exploring their talents in a better way.
With these views, and the passion for delivering the required platform to help out people, Mayank Dubey, an undergraduate student from IIT Delhi, with a major in Computer Science, built Directly.live, a tool that makes it convenient for you to schedule 1:1 online video meetings, manage your calendar, and collect payments whenever you have a paid consultation call with your clients.
Mayank started working on the platform towards September end in 2020, during the pandemic, when he felt a sudden requirement of tools and platforms to help people shift their vocations online. He figured out that most people on the internet were using various tools to carry their trades online but had a fair share of struggle while adjusting to this transition, considering the lack of knowledge. There did exist an ocean of resources already available on the internet, be it through YouTube or other platforms, but the core problem remained unanswered. People were still not able to learn and make out the best use of what was available. He felt that the best way to learn is through interaction with people they trust and not through monologues.
“With directly.live, I wanted to give people a single tool that would help them with everything, end to end, in the best possible way. The idea was to make knowledge accessible to everyone. ” says Dubey.
Solving the pain points
Being a meeting booking service for one-on-one paid or free meetings, Directly.live is the perfect tool for freelancers, educators, and more. It is a plug-and-play solution to book and conduct meetings without subscribing to any other means or platform. The interface setup is subtle and minimal, invoking better accessibility. As a user visits the website, he can signup and write a brief about himself while setting up the service he wants to offer. It takes less than 2 minutes to set up your profile and start sharing your knowledge, experience, skills, and advice with people on 1:1 video meetings. You can set your own rates as compensation for your time or offer help free of cost.
For example, a working artist can write about the art style they'd like to teach and then schedule sessions, say "Learn sketching with me" or "Get help to polish your work" in a 1-1 workshop. Similarly, consultants, coaches, teachers, or anyone willing to guide upon and share what they know can go ahead. The users can set up the session duration, like a 30min workshop, a 45min teaching session, or a 15min intro talk, and fix a price if they'd like to monetise the session. This sets up your profile. Once completed, the followers can see all the details and available time slots. A specialised link for the virtual call is generated on booking the session, and the payment part is taken care of if availed. After every session, the user's fee becomes visible in the dashboard, and the same can be withdrawn into their bank account, as per their convenience. There also exists an option of video widget that can be generated easily from the dashboard and integrated into the website or blog of the educator, making it effortless for visitors to schedule a call.
Iterating upon features - A Feedback Mechanism
Apart from the basic features of calling, payment & scheduling, every other point was decided based on the feedback.
"When users were using our service, we used to keep connected with them and get their input. Many people shared feature requests like questionnaires before the call, feedback of the meet, a list of all previous bookings, customisation of the profile pages, etc. Most of them were necessary, and hence we incorporated them. Prioritising the feature request was vital as we were suddenly getting lots of requests. Thus, we ranked and classified features shared by most people first and kept the other requirements for later." said Dubey.
Putting the best foot forward
Competition pushes you to be innovative, focused, and persevering. When asked if Directly.live faced any challenges, given pre-existing companies like Calendly and Zoom already working in this domain, he said, “Other tools used for scheduling may be effective and famous, but often, they need too many integrations to actually do the meetings and scheduling effectively. Directly.live solves this problem, giving all the benefits, with none of the downsides.
The ClickIndia deal
On March 6th, 2021, marketplace ClickIndia.com acquired Directly.live to boost the user experience and help its customer's close deals. Talking about the acquisition, Dubey feels that ClickIndia is a perfect home for Directly. He said, “It will empower individual experts and companies to integrate Directly into their system and allow the audiences to connect seamlessly over video meetings.”
Directing live to present
With such success, going from ideation to actual product within months and then selling it for further growth - at a time when most of the startups are failing to keep up the mark seems surreal. As a mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions, building, running, and finally selling Directly.live taught Mayank a lot about how things work.
“But in the end, it is just a start for me; now I have a lot more confidence to go all in and build something big.”
Currently, Dubey is a partner at StringVentures.ai, a startup studio, with a vision to decrease the rate of failure among startups that are focusing on solving complex problems. His love for technology and the timely realisation to use it to solve the issues of the modern world is something that one should learn from.
With such an optimistic outlook in sight, India’s booming startup ecosystem should remain vigilant for the birth of new ideas, to revamp business for the post-pandemic world.
In the words of Bob Dylan, "The times — they are a changin."