CRN Interview: TouchCast CEO On The Recurring Revenue Opportunity With Its Pitch Smart Video Platform And The Channel's Place In The Video Revolution
TouchCast co-founder and CEO Edo Sega says the company is counting on the channel to push its company's new Pitch smart video platform into customer environments where Microsoft Office 365 and traditional storage hardware are being sold.
Pitching The Pitch
TouchCast co-founder and CEO Edo Segal says the company's new Pitch smart video platform is "version one of a revolution."
The third product from five-year-old TouchCast, Pitch is similar to PowerPoint but allows for a wide array of live video options. Segal said the company is counting on the channel to push the platform into customer environments where Microsoft Office365 and traditional storage hardware are being sold.
"The way for us to succeed as a company is going to be driven largely by the channel, and really packaging our offering so that it's lucrative for channel partners," Segal said.
Pitch allows users to make slide presentations but adds a video component that allows presenters to appear in presentations, even appearing behind virtual podiums in front of virtual audiences or in lavishly appointed offices.
Segal sees Pitch as "a revolution in the way people communicate" and said the product's recent launch is well-timed. Enterprises are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate video into their internal and external communication strategies, and the company includes several large customers, including Accenture, Unilever and Pfizer, among its early adopters.
What follows is an edited excerpt of Segal's conversation with CRN.
How does Pitch work, and who is its prospective customer?
It's a TCT file format, a universal medium that allows us to capture everything. It's a great companion to any Office365 user, and there's not an offering in the market that accommodates this today. We're all making videos and sharing videos daily from our phones, on social media. It's become second nature. We're offering this type of tool for the enterprise, for work. It's transacted and transferred securely. We consider Office users the addressable market. Office has over 100 million subscribers. We're targeting that universe with an offering that will enable and empower them to do this from their desktop. We're very interested in channel partners that are in that sphere, selling productivity software, whether it's Office or Adobe or other solutions.
What's the 'pitch?'
We're coming in with the story that now you can enable all of your workers to effectively to be high-end smart video producers. We're also pursuing relationships with VARs that have historically focused on hardware that's adjacent to our use case, specifically storage, because video comes with a lot of storage needs. We're coming up with solutions that will allow the VAR to go into a company and say 'Here's a solution that will allow all of your employees to start creating video content and here's a solution that will cover the entire life cycle of moving that around efficiently in your main office and your satellite offices, as well.' That creates a sizable opportunity for folks who are maybe a more traditional infrastructure partner.
Do you see Pitch as a deep, recurring revenue opportunity for partners?
When you couple the application layer with the hardware layer, it creates a bigger opportunity for the VAR. We're also looking to them to start structuring transformational projects that will address the fact that there are all these use cases. It covers so many different use cases, it's almost like saying what do you do with a phone? It really touches on every aspect of a company's business. We're working with some of these partners to establish transformation practices so they go into a company and audit their workflows and say you can make customer service this much better, or you can make communication that much better, or you can make your marketing that much better. That can be something the channel can handle on a professional services basis.
What advantage does TouchCast get by selling Pitch through the channel?
Historically, that is something we've done on our own. We've serviced our enterprise clients. But we feel that if we enable the channel to create these types of practices, it would be very lucrative for them and allow us to scale better as a company.
And you're doing all this with your very first channel program?
It is our first channel program. We've had channel partners, but this is the first time we've opened it up into a broader program, and we're talking to many potential partners. We really feel like we need to lean into the channel and not compete with them.
How are you positioning Pitch, and what's the revenue potential for partners?
We'd like Pitch to be a companion application to any seat that requires Office365, the thesis being you're empowering your knowledge worker with these tools, now they also need a tool for video, and here it is. If you bought 100 seats of Office365, or 1,000, you can also buy 1,000 of this. We're providing a framework from an economic perspective where the margin on that is significantly higher than what they'd be making selling Office365. It also creates a recurring revenue stream for them, which is very valuable.
What other ways can partners establish a Pitch practice?
We're looking at three tiers of alignments. One is as a companion to Office365 or Adobe, where we're selling an item that's unique and facilitates this. The second is what we refer to as video transformation. This is the idea that there's a consulting offering that the partner offers to potential clients where they go into a company and assess where video could have an impact on their business and come back with a recommendation that includes consulting and maybe even production services they could do to facilitate the customer incorporating more video into their culture. Third would be more of a custom VAR alignment, if there's a storage provider that wants to couple the application layer with the hardware layer around building custom solutions pertaining to the full ecosystem from inception and creation.
What about the corporate landscape convinces you that you that you've launched Pitch at the right time?
When I was at AOL, I had a first-hand view of the fact that the future of the internet is all around video. I'm trying to advance the medium to what we see now around smart video. That fairly quickly led us to the conclusion that the biggest opportunity is in the enterprise because every enterprise on the planet is currently formulating its video strategy and how to enable its users. They're all publishers. That's how we ended up where we are today. We're passionate about video communication and collaboration. Most of the leadership here came out of that background.
How are you approaching the channel and the formation of your channel program?
We're very excited about the prospect of engaging with a lot of channel partners and making sure we give them what they need to be successful. It's a pretty sexy offering. It's something people see and get excited about. We want to make sure that we give the channel the tools to build franchises around the IP that we built. We want to go to market with the simple message: What PowerPoint did for graphic design, this company is doing for video in the workplace. Therefore, the addressable market is all of your customers. How do we succeed together in conveying this simple message and land on the right price point and make sure we're paying them enough to keep them motivated?