The right idea may not sound right at all to other people. It may not even be given the chance to be heard. Good thing entrepreneurs such as Erik Yuan make it a point to hang on to the idea even when others are not so pleased about it and profit handsomely by doing so.
Before he made his video conferencing app happen, Erik was a Chinese man who spoke little English. Inspired by a speech by no less than billionaire extraordinaire Bill Gates in 1994 in Japan, he moved to Silicon Valley to join and take an active role in the tech boom.
Erik Yuan bided his time. He joined WebEx, a web conferencing start-up, as one of the first 20 employees. Eventually, WebEx was bought by Cisco Systems by 2007. But deep inside Erik was longing for something. He knew in his heart that the time was right for a smartphone-friendly web conferencing app. So he did what any thriving Corporate VP would do: pitch the idea to his bosses. But his Cisco bosses wouldn’t want to do anything with it. Wanting to keep his idea alive, the Chinese graduate from Shandong University packed his bags and left the company.
That would have to be the biggest gamble of his life. But it did pay off. And that’s how Zoom was born. Learn how your company can zoom your way to success with the right app.
Big Versus Small
It isn’t really a guaranteed idea that you’ll succeed. When Erik left the corporate world as a VP to strike out on his own in 2011, he had but 40 engineers to start with. Originally he named the company Saasbee Inc. At the onset, the company struggled. Investors were reluctant to put their money in. It was only in 2012 that the company finally adopted Zoom as its official name. It was taken out of Zoom City, a Thacher Hurd’s book for children.
But Erik Yuan’s idea seemed a bit off to succeed, much less to be the #1 video conferencing app on the planet. To boot, it was up against giants or a line of established mighty competition. Top of the heap is Skype. The irony of ironies, Skype was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion, a hefty price compared to the pittance Zoom received for funding.
Skype was the de facto king, the go-to web conferencing app for most people for years. It certainly had a lot more going for it and best of all it was backed by Microsoft, the company that Bill Gates founded.
But Erik didn’t give up. He hanged on to his idea of a user-friendly video conferencing app. He wanted users to be able to easily download the app and use it on their smartphones. It was but a matter of time that his idea will go boom. Skype was basically a web conferencing app that transitioned to the smartphone. There’s a distinction.
In 2019, Zoom did its IPO. Nobody knew it was about to take the world by storm. In the meantime, Skype users were slowly migrating to Zoom. Skype had issues but one feature was at the root of the problem: poor video calls. Zoom made its video calls a breeze.
And then the perfect storm came in 2020. When the virus hit America and quarantine and stay-at-home orders became the norm, the need for people to get in touch became pronounced. Given all the chaos, one smartphone app provided easy download and quality calls, Zoom. Erik Yuan’s idea had reached its time. Its daily users rose from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020 and counting. In the process, it has toppled Skype as the #1 video conferencing app worldwide.
Needless to say, all this has made Erik Yuan a rich man. Today, he’s worth about $17 billion well within the top 400 richest in the world.
The Right App for You
Let’s get this straight. Not all businesses need to be an app. Uber, Zoom, Lyft, and Grab are just samples of consumer apps that made it. Before you pitch your idea to the best app development company in town, you need to do your own due diligence. The top of the questions you have to tackle are:
- Will an app be best for your business?
- Do you have a mobile target audience?
- What is the inherent value of your app?
Take note that creating an app can be the make-or-break moment for your sales to soar. Indeed, your success may take time. But if you’re like Erik Yuan, the right time should prove your idea to be better than the best out there.