10/3/2013

Partnering to Launch Tata's jamvee Videoconferencing App

Katie Smart's profile picture
Katie Smart Sr. Manager, Global Marketing Communications
You may have seen some press recently about a new videoconferencing product introduced by Tata Communications. It's called jamvee, and we've been deeply involved in its development over here at Weemo. tata jamvee logoWorking on jamvee is an exhilarating undertaking, and we're incredibly proud to have helped our partner launch this app into the business world. But I'm not writing this post to talk about how great of a product it is. I want to focus on the Tata Communications - Weemo partnership that made this product possible. A partnership between a relatively small company, like ours, and a large multi-national corporation like Tata is something that doesn't typically garner a lot of attention. But all small companies that eventually grow up to be large companies stammer through this very important stage, and firms that fail often falter because they can't get traction with a handful of crucial partners and customers. So, how does a partnership like this come about, and what does each partner bring to the table? For jamvee, the story began several years ago when we initiated a pilot program with Tata in France. That led to an RFP from Tata in Singapore about 1 year later, for a product that would eventually become jamvee. Since Tata's telepresence system is based on Cisco equipment, we initially thought that the business would go to Cisco. In fact, some people within Tata expressed a lot of skepticism when we first decided to bid, noting that Tata almost never works with startups. Still, we swung for the fences and ended up winning the RFP. As for bringing value to the table, we delivered a unique technology to the partnership -- the ability to bridge a large gap between room-based telepresence systems and the more ubiquitous smartphones, tablets, and personal computers that are transforming the real-time video communications landscape. Tata, on the other hand, brought us an instantly-productive distribution channel with a worldwide sales force. Clearly, a partnership consists of give and take, and it has to be balanced to be sustainable. tata communications jamvee screenshotFrom a risk standpoint, Tata is making a bet on a company that has a pretty impressive (but quite limited) track record. While Weemo has several important customers and the backing of a large European VC, it's still quite early in our company's lifespan and that's clearly a source of uncertainty. From our perspective, we risk becoming beholden to a large customer like Tata. Will they monopolize our development resources? Will we respond to their demands while neglecting other attractive business opportunities? Again, those are risks that all small companies face while cementing their first few major wins. I think that being completely aware of these risks is what enables us to make intelligent business decisions, and disclosure is the foundation of a mutually beneficial business relationship. I look at the partnership with Tata as the tip of the iceberg. We've uncovered so many areas of possible collaboration that it is almost, in a way, paralyzing. Tata is pushing us in business process improvement, QA and industrialization, and many other disciplines. We're helping them enter new markets and satisfy customer needs at an incredibly rapid pace, while maintaining the exceptional level of service that their customers are used to. Our relationship is off to a great start. I can't wait to see what it brings to both companies in the future.

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