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Video conferencing has changed what is possible to achieve in business communications. It makes partners out of people on opposite sides of the globe without either having to set foot on a plane. It lets companies speak face-to-face with customers without ever opening a storefront. It lets team members collaborate on the same project, at the same time, without ever having to leave their homes. Those tools aren’t the exclusive domain of well-established big businesses, either. They’re available to anyone with an internet connection, a webcam, and a free Skype account, and they can be used to start a business from scratch as effectively as they can keep one running. Video conferencing for startups offers a cheap, effective access to nearly everything a new venture needs, from funding to employees to clients and customers. In fact, video conferencing has become such an essential tool that banks are making sure the startups they support are equipped to communicate via video.
Video Conferencing for StartupsThe Bank of Ireland is one financial backer that is putting video conferencing in the hands of its newest investments. The bank has opened a series of startup business“incubators” in New York, Dublin, and Galway. These StartLabs offer offices, meeting rooms, and video conferencing equipment to fledgling entrepreneurs. The digital technology’s reach means supplying desk space for 50 people provides a launching pad for up to 15 independent new businesses. VC Daily has discussed the advantages ofshared video conferencing resources before, and if the Bank of Ireland is going to give everyone their own private equipment, that’s even better. The StartLabs are situated above bank branches, but they function like any other office. Each startup gets a brick-and-mortar presence to entertain potential investors and partners, and room to spread their financial blueprints out all over their desks. More importantly, though, the video conferencing equipment–and we’re going to assume it’s the shiny HD variety since banks aren’t typically short on funds–gives each business a digital presence to project an image of professionalism to clients, potential employees, venture capitalists–anyone who would be interested.
Starting a Business Has Never Been EasierThe advent of digital technologies like video conferencing means it is easier than ever before to start a new business. The internet has become a thriving marketplace, with global e-commerce generating more than $2 trillion annually. Space on this digital Main Street is unlimited, while the cost of building and hosting a website from scratch comes in at around $200 a month, compared to the $3,400 you pay annually for every square foot of retail space in New York. That low cost dramatically reduces the amount of startup capital a new business needs, removing the pressure for instant success. Today, an entire business can operate without a brick-and-mortar presence. With video conferencing as their mode of transport, employees can work together online via telecommuting–40% of Americans already do at least some of the time. So, tucked away in their Bank of Ireland incubator, a startup team heading a virtual business could use video conferencing to:
- Meet face-to-face with potential investors with zero travel costs
- Source, interview, and recruit employees located anywhere in the country
- Speak to clients personally regardless of location
- Provide customer service over a web-based video link
- Keep their business operating 24 hours a day with a global team of employees
- Source and interact with accountants, advisors, marketing experts, and financial planners from any location