We’re willing to bet that there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. In the blink of an eye, everything changed, or better yet, everything evolved. We adapted. Everything that could’ve possibly moved online, has and will continue as the world becomes more digitally adept. Since work shifted to a predominantly remote environment, the need for online tools and products became dire.
It wasn’t easy for most teams. A sudden paradigm shift is never comfortable but there’s no other way than to adjust to a seemingly demanding new way of life. One of the most affected areas of work was collaboration. Sure, conference room meetings turned to virtual video calls but the complex needs to have to communicate and work together stayed the same. None of us are oblivious to what this significant increase in online meetings led to - Zoom fatigue, bored participants, and a fragmented approach to collaboration.
And soon it wasn’t just about attending meetings, but factoring in the entire process that a meeting leads up to and what it concludes towards. You would’ve probably experienced the difficulties of organizing work in an online environment, too. You use one app to book a time slot, one to create presentations, another to share information, and yet another to run meetings. The experience becomes uneasy and overwhelming in a lot of ways. A lot of information leaks out in having to transition from one tool to another causing work to slow down or even degrade over time.
What if there was a tool to bring all this all together?
“The idea of Sessions came to me before the pandemic when I organized an in-person board meeting that lasted for hours. I was frustrated by the time spent in that unproductive situation. Considering the cumulative prorated salaries of all attendees, one realizes that it costs thousands of dollars. Then I started a crusade against unproductive meetings with a powerful idea in mind” - Radu Negulescu, Founder & CEO, Sessions.
Since then, Radu made a point to never have an unproductive meeting. He structured everything beforehand, defined strict timings for discussions, and sure enough, the meetings ended swiftly, with twice as much productivity. When everything moved online, he wanted to see do the same for virtual meetings, but couldn’t find the right tools that were powerful enough. You’ve to rely heavily on sharing screens and shifting between tabs all the time. But Radu was determined to find a better way to have meetings, so he decided to build a tool himself.
A remote-first world deserves a remote-first tool. A product that offers an engrossing collaborative experience that’s optimized for ease of use so people can work in a coherent, consolidated space without having to worry about sharing or organizing their work.
“We’ve looked at the entire video conferencing experience (from booking time slots, running meetings, sharing information, and follow-up), and we’ve decided to take it back to the drawing board and improve it,” shared Radu Negulescu in an interview with Recursive.
Sessions is built as a three-dimensional product: video-conferencing, collaboration, and data management. This brings a new wave of video-conferencing tools that cover the entire meeting cycle while empowering teams to work in a collaborative environment.
It integrates workflows, apps, information, and actions into a single platform. You can use the platform for anything from sales pitches to product demos, user research, webinars, training, and onboarding. You can further share and collaborate in productivity apps such as Google Drive, Airtable, and Miro from the same workplace.
“Our community has played a pivotal role in supporting and keeping us focused and on the right track. They share their thoughts and ideas with us as soon as they feel there is something we could improve or a new feature we need to implement. In this way, we get to create a user-first product that solves real problems and makes the lives of professional teams easier,” Radu reflects.
Sessions Community was not an afterthought. The concept of a community was part of the initial business plan developed for the platform. Therefore, the platform had a head start only to develop an MVP. Soon after the MVP was tested both in a closed and an open beta environment, they launched their MVC (Minimal Viable Community) as a closed community on Slack.
Everybody on the team valued and understood the importance of having a tight-knit group of people around the product which ultimately helped them understand -
Community powers growth at Sessions and is unequivocally the most important element that pushes them in motion toward progress. With a community in place, they had a direct communication channel where people could connect with everyone from the team, including the founders.
Indulging and interacting with the community was a priority at Sessions. They took time to talk to members personally, understand their problems, and suggest efficient ways to go about it. In fact, they would even enter live events to support their community and make sure everything runs smoothly.
In a way, Sessions’ community co-created the platform and that’s because they wanted them to. Constantly hosting events and allowing community members to engage directly with the founders and product team impacted the roadmap and eventually reflected on the product itself.
"For us, the community is as powerful as the cane is for a blind person. It shows us the way. I think of Sessions community as a flywheel of people-product-feedback-development-product-people. The only way forward, in SaaS business, is to combine community-led and product-led growth to empower enduring solutions.” - Savian Boroancă, Head of Community at Sessions.
As soon as the product and community engine was in motion, the team at Sessions started knocking down milestones like dominoes.
MVC soon followed MVP as the product opened up for closed beta. The community was laid down as the foundation for users to share their experiences about the platform. Most of these early users helped shape the product into what it’s become today. As a token of appreciation for their contribution, all beta customers received Lifetime deals on the product. A lot of them converted to early adopters and a lot of them still use the product to this day.
One of the biggest challenges at this stage was finding the balance in chaos. With the feedback coming in, it was a constant battle to organize the work and define a pipeline. Especially when you’re building a hyper-growth, mass-market product with different target audiences, each having different priorities and needs.
After the team opened Sessions up in beta, they also did a public launch on Product Hunt which was received extremely well by people. With close to 2000 upvotes, not only did they with the titles of #1 Product of the Day and the #1 Product of the Week but also brought home a new wave of users.
As new users came in, their feedback further solidified Sessions as a tangible, cohesive solution for online meetings and collaborations.
In Product Hunt’s 2021 Golden Kitty Awards, Sessions won the title of “Product of the Year” under the category “Work from Anywhere”.
They credit a major part of this achievement to their community who showed tremendous support by upvoting, commenting, and advocating for the platform altogether.
Their community’s continued support poured into further strengthening their foot in the market. In July 2022, they raised their seed round for $4.5 million.
"We could lie and say it was our work, ideas, and concepts that made this possible. But the truth is, our community was instrumental in achieving this milestone. Their constant support and guidance shaped the product into a version that highlighted the value this product brings in the world of online meetings. It made it valuable enough for investors to believe in Sessions’ potential and invest in us,” shared Savian.
Companies and teams are often torn between deciding on a GTM strategy. There’s too much focus on one or the other but not many consider what it might be like to get the best of both worlds. Product-led growth and community-led growth complement each other as the former can be what guides users seamlessly through the product and the latter can be what converts users to members and gives them a platform to explore the product in-depth.
Finding that sweet spot where product meets community can mean exponential growth for your company. For Sessions, this perfect blend fuelled their journey and will also prove to be what gives them escape velocity to reach a self-sustaining flywheel model.
As Sessions heads towards a public launch and soon moves out of beta, everyone will be able to try the product and find value through it. Covering the entire cycle of meetings will undoubtedly prove to be something remote teams appreciate and extensively use. Without the support from their community, all this wouldn’t have been possible and as the company grows, they aim to pivot and take community to the next level.
This is just the beginning.
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