Four years ago, Mikogo was created from an idea by our company, BeamYourScreen which since 2004 has developed and operated business desktop sharing solutions. Numerous private individuals approached our company asking for a free online meeting tool for personal use. None of the big corporations, such as WebEx, were offering free solutions for personal use and we came to strongly believe that the private user was missing out. With this in mind, we decided to create Mikogo, a free desktop sharing tool for private users.
What started as an idea in 2007 has since developed into a service soon to reach 1 million registered users in 180 countries worldwide. We are thrilled at how many people support our work and enjoy our software – thank you!
Today we bring you an important message about how together we will sustain Mikogo as a high-quality desktop sharing program. We will soon introduce a freemium model to Mikogo. This is a big step for us and we ask that you please read the following blog post.
How Can We Sustain Mikogo?
Since releasing Mikogo as a free tool in 2007, we put our own money into Mikogo, including developing the product, building and maintaining the infrastructure, and supporting the community in the best possible way. Moreover, neither BeamYourScreen nor Mikogo are venture capital backed.
At first this was no problem. But over time as more users found us, we were overwhelmed with the large increase in sessions. For a technology company, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing our product being adopted and used regularly by so many people. This is the best proof that we created something meaningful and beneficial, and we are very proud to see our work appreciated.
On the flipside, this massive growth has led to substantial increases in our expenses. Financially speaking, maintaining and developing Mikogo has become a stretch especially since we are still financing Mikogo with our own money. We look forward to bringing you further new features while maintaining the Mikogo infrastructure, but to make this possible we need to consider our future expenses. So how are we going to cover these costs?
Introducing the Freemium Model
Over time, we learned that besides private users a number of businesses were using Mikogo. We talked to these business users and the value of Mikogo to them was clear – companies can significantly reduce their travel expenses while increasing productivity.
So after many long meetings, research, testing alternative revenue options, and of course a lot of careful consideration, we concluded that the best way to cover our increasing costs while continuing to provide and develop Mikogo would be to ask those who benefit the most from Mikogo to support us in sustaining our product by giving a contribution back – something that in the long-term will benefit the Mikogo Community as a whole.
We have hence decided to implement a freemium model, especially because this means we do not lose sight of our initial goal and mission – to provide a free desktop sharing tool for private use. We set out to address this need and we would like to continue this.
Based on the above, this is how we envision the Mikogo freemium model:
- The Mikogo software will remain free for private use – the software can be downloaded and used without any costs. There is no need to neither register an account nor provide personal details.
- Commercial use of Mikogo – So we can sustain our business and our Mikogo product we will offer a paid version for businesses, which allows them to use Mikogo for commercial use and provides them with additional business benefits such as logo branding and customization.
Why the Freemium Model?
The freemium model was not our first idea. When we realized that we could not sustain the growing usage of the software by ourselves forever, we started thinking about ways to finance Mikogo. At one point, we asked people to donate. Wikipedia, for example, successfully did this but unfortunately it did not work for us. Next we thought about implementing an ad supported model. However, we did not like the idea of having ads displayed neither on our website nor in the software. We did not want Mikogo to become another piece of adware.
Besides the issue of covering costs, there is another important aspect why the freemium model is the right way to go. As we continue to develop Mikogo, improve the software and server infrastructure, add advanced features, and respond to feature requests from users, we foresee Mikogo becoming a very powerful online collaboration tool. By introducing a freemium model, we can place more resources behind our product and speed up development. We believe in our product and are not sales or marketing driven. WebEx, for example, spends tons of money on advertising which is financed by their customer sales. We focus rather on product development and infrastructure and this is where the bulk of our costs come from. This enables us to offer our freemium licenses at a very affordable price. For example, the price of a Mikogo license starts at less than $13/month.
A freemium model will be a step in the right direction for all those associated with Mikogo. As we receive a small amount for providing Mikogo to businesses, we can sustain our product while focusing on future development. It should be a very exciting time ahead for all of us as we have some really cool and innovative plans on our development road-map for the Mikogo users!
When Will the Freemium Model Start?
We are still working on some behind-the-scenes tasks to get all of this setup. We just wanted to post this today to keep you all in the loop.
Free Business Licenses for Translators
On a final note, over the last couple of years we’ve received a lot of support from people who volunteered to translate the Mikogo software and website – take a look at our Hall of Fame. We appreciate this and would like to reward our translators with a Mikogo license that they can use for commercial use. There will be more details specifically about this in an upcoming blog post – please look out for that.
Finally we thank you all for your support and understanding as we take this big step. You have all helped us in one way or the other: by using Mikogo, by giving us feedback on both good and not so good things, and by sharing Mikogo with the world. Some have put their heart into Mikogo and helped translate the software into many languages – 35 to be more precise. Some of you have created videos or written blog posts about Mikogo. We are grateful for this outstanding support and we look forward to continuing to provide a high-quality free desktop sharing program for many years to come!
Mark and Erik