Dimdim is “brighter” Web conferencing choice for small Canadian firms

Today, 2.2 million people use Dimdim’s online conferencing tool, many of them staff or clients of Canadian small firms. One such user shares why Dimdim is the right and “bright” choice for his online tutoring company.

By Nestor E. Arellano

“Dimdim” may seem an odd name for a firm whose prospects seem so bright.

But settling on that name was a “no-brainer,” according to Steve Chazin, Ottawa-based chief marketing officer of Dimdim Inc.,

It’s “catchy and easy to remember.”   

The three-year-old Web conferencing firm was, in fact, called Cummuniva during the first six months of its existence.

But by whatever appellation, the firm’s witnessed impressive growth, in both revenues and customer base.

Since its launch, in 2007, Dimdim has garnered $8.4 million in investor funding, while more than a million users take advantage of its Web conferencing capabilities.

The company offers a cheaper alternative to enterprise-grade online conferencing and collaboration tools, such as Cisco’s WebEx and Microsoft’s Live Meeting, Goto Meeting and Goto Webinar from Citrix.

And that’s Dimdim’s major selling for at least one of its Canadian small business customers.

TutorJam  in Waterloo, Ont. provides online coaching to students from the kindergarten to the college level, harnessing Dimdim’s Web collaboration and conferencing features.

Those coupled with “very reasonable pricing” are among the most attractive aspects of the offering, according to Nathan Arora, vice-president of marketing at TutorJam.

Arora said the Dimdim product is significantly cheaper than other offerings on the market.

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TutorJam offers live and customized online tutoring programs to a wide range of learners.

One of its challenges was to come up with a user interface that could be adapted for Web-savvy adults, as well kids as young as six years.

The Dimdim tool offers the flexibility, Arora suggested. He said Dimdim lets students view video and retrieve class modules for subjects such as social studies, math and English. It also enables them to interact with tutors real-time in collaborative online sessions.

Parents can view regular reports from their child’s tutors and track his or her academic progress, and use the tool’s feedback function to ask tutors questions online, make a special request, or offer comments and suggestions.

An analytics feature lets administrators see how students are using the service and if the program is meeting the student needs. Tutors can open a dialogue with students or their parents online, in real time.

“The big advantage is all this can be done online without parents having to rush and drive their kids to the classroom or tutors needing to go to the student’s home,” said Arora.

The recession has  boosted the popularity of hosted and Web-based apps, and this market is poised for huge growth over the next few years, according to Jan Dawson, vice-president of tech advisory firm Ovum.

“The Web conferencing market will grow to about $21 billion by 2011.”

Dimdim’s Chazin believes the company’s open source roots will be a big factor in its success.

The company’s product comes in three flavours:

  • A free version for up to 20 users
  • Another model for more than 20 people that costs $99/year or $9.99/month
  • Dimdim Pro at $228/year or $25/month for a 50-person meeting room

By contrast, other vendors charge as much as $ 1,000/year for a 15-person meeting room.

“The market is saturated with Web conferencing tools that are complicated to use, locked-in to a particular vendor and expensive,” he said.

For instance, he said, competitors such as Citrix and Cisco, require users to install proprietary software into their machines while Dimdim customers only need access to a browser.

“If you can use Google, you can use Dimdim,” said Chazin.

He said users can use Dimdim as the foundation for their own customized application. “With our open API (application programming interface) you can even create a Facebook application without any help from us.”

Dimdim’s application can be re-labeled and meetings designed to the user’s liking to reflect a desired corporate image.

While the free version is attractive, many of Dimdim’s 2.2 million users are paying corporate customers, Chazin noted.

“More than half of our users now are paying customers and the numbers can only grow. Web conferencing is not going back into the bottle.”  

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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