Over the past week, Zoom videoconferencing has become the go-to application for workers and students alike during the coronavirus pandemic, with many other business productivity tools also getting increased attention.
Tech startups with San Antonio ties are hoping the sudden emphasis on virtual meetings, e-commerce, and similar business activities will provide them a similar jump-start, with some already seeing effects.
Software designed for remote teams and remote work will definitely see a boost from the situation, said Active Capital CEO Pat Matthews. The work-remote movement was already happening, but now it’s accelerating out of necessity, he said.
“I don’t think offices are going away, but these kinds of software tools will help people stay productive,” Matthews said.
Carlos Tovar, founder of web design and maintenance firm Be Better Web, said he’s seen a 30 percent increase in business requests over the past week and a half. The Geekdom startup recently switched to a subscription model, and Tovar said he has seen more subscriptions since the virus pushed people to work remotely.
The company has seen more site edits and “people that want to have more of an online presence because of the current social distancing policies affecting their businesses,” Tovar said.
To people in the technology sector, remote working and online conference tools and communications systems are a part of everyday life, he said. But many others are just starting to use this technology, or are now being forced to as they switch to working from home.
Unit Innovations founder and CEO Ethan Aldrich, who was born and raised in San Antonio and now based in California, created a real-time device for officers and staff at jails to use to manage their facilities and check on inmates. Right now, Aldrich’s technology is in 26 county jails across the nation, 21 of which are in Texas.
Aldrich said that as concerns about the virus has grown, he’s seen an increase in requests from jail administrators who want to use the tech to keep track of who’s been tested for the virus – from visitors and staff to inmates. Prior to the virus, Aldrich said he had about 20 clients. With the pandemic, he has almost 100 waiting for devices.
“A lot of jails right now are looking for products [to track the virus],” Aldrich said. “They’re just worried about the possible mitigation that can come from this. Many correctional facilities have shut down visitation hours as a preventative measure.”
SendSpark, a San Antonio-based media startup that allows users to record and share videos with their clients, has seen an increase of more than 60 percent in users in the last week as companies look for new ways to connect with potential customers while many businesses are shut down, said founder and COO Bethany Stachenfeld. In just the last couple of weeks SendSpark has gone from 300 active users to 571, she said.
Stachenfeld said many inquiries have been from educators looking for a new way to communicate with their students. Meanwhile, companies who may have stopped using the platform are signing back in to connect with clients, she added.
Simultaneously, Yac Media‘s base has grown by 90 percent since the pandemic began, adding over 200 users over the last few days alone, a sales representative said Monday afternoon. Active Capital raised $1.5 million for Yac in November.
The voicemail-like product is designed for internal communication within a company and is especially beneficial to companies with remote workers, said founder and CEO Justin Mitchell.
The startup’s technology allows coworkers to send each other voice memos, hold online “meetings” at different times, record a computer screen while doing voiceover, or convey a message in a medium other than email or phone. The product can be used on a desktop or mobile device and can integrate with Slack, Zoom, or other business tools.
Mitchell said the Florida-based company was able to lower its prices as a result of increased demand because of the pandemic, and that much of the increased interest is also coming from educators looking for ways to communicate with their students while schools and colleges are closed.
6Connex, a virtual event platform managed under San Antonio-based parent company Dura Software, has been able to showcase its product as trade shows and conventions are shut down to prevent coronavirus spread among large groups.
“There really isn’t a cap to the amount of attendees you can have on a virtual event,” said CEO Ruben Castano in a written statement. “In many ways, the sky’s the limit.”
Castano said 6Connex can customize virtual events, to include breakout rooms, virtual people behind information booths, and more.