High-load Video Conferencing


Currently a well-known startup accelerator is hosting an online startup school. For this, large numbers of people come together via video conferencing, but the tools they are using don’t seem to be up to the job as well as they should be.

First there was to be a “founder social” online event, where similar founders were paired via video for 7 minutes at a time, with new connections after each session, for an entire hour. The system for this, sort of crumbled under the load, and I was paired with only one partner, and was otherwise just watching a loading icon. The software for this appeared to be custom made by the accelerator.

Later there was a kickoff session, in the form of a webinar, with 3 active presenters, about 300 users watching and visible via video, and about another 13000 passive observers, only interacting via the chat system. This too didn’t perform well under the load, the presenters joked about this to the crowd. The software for this session was by a leading provider of video conferencing solutions.

So today’s startup idea is for a video conferencing system specifically designed for such use cases: large numbers of users, communicating in various ways via video, audio and chat. This software should be able to handle loads well beyond normal video calls, without any artifacts of overloading.

So far the market for this doesn’t seem very large. How many startup schools are there in the world? But most medium to large companies might want a video participation scheme for all their employees at the same time? My guess is that they are attempting this already with similar results to startup school.

This project could be lucrative from two sides. For one, the more participants are hosted on such a server, the more money can be charged for the license. On the other hand, incumbents without this capability might be willing to acquire a startup to get this ability in their portfolio.

Video conferencing software is by no means easy, so the technical challenge might be the hardest part of such a startup. One remaining question is, how to get such large user loads for testing, or whether a simulated video call can substitute for this?