QuickBlox is a cloud-based communication platform company that enables businesses to add real-time communication features to their apps and websites with ease. And QuickBlox provides pre-built SDKs and APIs for chat and video calling, and customizable ready solutions that can be “plugged in and played.” The company offers cross-platform compatibility (supporting iOS, Android, Flutter, React Native, and the Web), making their software extremely versatile.
The communication solutions help businesses succeed in delivering user experiences comparable to the likes of WhatsApp and Zoom, but that are customizable and can be hosted in the customer’s own cloud infrastructure. Last month, QuickBlox launched a free and open-source offering in the form of a high-performance video teleconsultation software called Q-Consultation Lite.
To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 conducted a Q&A interview with QuickBlox CEO Nate MacLeitch.
Q: Hi, Nate. Before you tell us about your company, please share something about your background.
A: Sure. I grew up in California where I graduated from the University of California. I spent much of my twenties and thirties living in London where I started my business and family. But recently I moved back to the Bay Area, California as I’ve always been drawn to new technologies. I guess I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I built my first company in the late 2000s and it was one of the first to create entertainment and games for mobile phones.
Q: How did the idea behind QuickBlox evolve?
A: My interest in digital communication solutions was sparked by the launch of SMS and the emergence of the smartphone and mobile internet in the early 2010s. It became increasingly evident that traditional methods of communication were changing.
Even SMS texting, which opened up the first messaging services, was expensive and functionally limited. New smartphones enabled more dynamic, convenient, media-rich, and cost-effective options to satisfy people’s preferences. I met some developers who were building software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) that enabled the integration of chat messaging into all kinds of mobile applications and websites. Recognizing the vast potential of this innovation, I decided to invest, leading to the creation of QuickBlox.
Q.) It’s quite challenging to build your own company. Tell us the process you went through.
A.) Well after coming up with the idea, the first stage was to test the market and validate the idea. Luckily the onset of digital communication via smartphones and mobile apps has created its own momentum. There is a tremendous need for communication and interest in our product. Next was about getting a great team together, which I have. Next was about figuring out the business model and determining how to find customers willing to pay for the services. We landed on a subscription-based business model for the use of the services. Over time we’ve tweaked the pricing and subscription plans to get it right.
Once launched, the goal was to develop our products and keep up with market trends. Alongside chat, we soon added video calling, then conferencing, and a host of other features. We have also moved into the ready solutions space. We’ve done all of this as a bootstrapped business, and now that we have proven the model works, we are looking to expand the business with supportive partners.
Q: How has the technology of your product evolved?
A: QuickBlox’s technology has evolved considerably since we first launched. Like many of our competitors, our company initially offered tool kits and interfaces (chat SDKs and APIs) that allowed communication functionality to be integrated into apps. But QuickBlox has since broken away from the pack and now offers additional tools and services.
First, we are able to deploy our software in our customer’s own cloud (instead of on our servers/cloud). This is critical for customers who have data security or regulatory compliance. Second, we now offer a white-label video consultation app, including a free “Lite” version and a Chat UI Kit. These pre-built plugins (which work off our QuickBlox platform SDKs and APIs) significantly speed up app development time for companies to add communication. Currently, we are excited by the potential of AI technologies. We are developing a series of AI enabling tools that allow developers to easily integrate AI technology into their real-time communications apps.
Q: What have been the biggest milestones for your company?
A: There have been several. Building Q-Consultation during the Covid-19 pandemic was a major milestone. I was proud of our team’s ability to listen to the needs of our customers. Building this app indicates our company’s commitment to adding sophisticated white-label solutions to our menu offering. This March, we released a slimmed-down “lite” version available as free open-source code, which marks another milestone. We are pleased to help make remote communication tools more widely accessible.
Q: Can you tell us about a customer success story you’ve enjoyed?
A: One that stands out was BNP Paribas Wealth Management. They used our chat for their online trading platform for several years before they moved to their own n-house application.
I consider this a success story as they had pretty complex security hosting requirements, which we were able to fulfill. The project involved members of my DevOps team flying out to Switzerland to assist with deploying our software in their server center.
Another customer success story would be LandMark hospitals, which integrated Q-Consultation into their EHR system during the height of Covid. Offering long-term acute care, this hospital wanted to enable families of their patients to see their loved ones or speak with doctors during the lockdown period when in-person visits were prohibited.
Q: How do you make use of customer feedback?
A: QuickBlox appreciates customer feedback and has always relied on it for informing decisions about our product roadmap. In recent years, we’ve had lots of requests for embeddable-ready solutions. Our customers can’t use off-the-shelf third-party products because they need customized solutions to fit their use case and brand and they need to control their users’ data in their own cloud. At the same time, they don’t want to spend weeks or months building their communication use cases either. Listening to their feedback and understanding their needs is why we are now committed to developing products like Q-Consultation.
Currently, we’re soliciting feedback on how this product can be improved, and we’re hearing a lot of interest in integrating tools like ChatGPT to enhance our app.
Q: What is the Total Addressable Market (TAM) your business falls in?
A: The current market is huge. Specifically, the Communication-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) market is expected to grow to over $45 billion by 2027. Our ability to deploy our software where our customer wants means that we are uniquely positioned to capture the thousands of businesses with regulatory compliance needs or security concerns for their sensitive data; this includes healthcare and fintech. As we are developing AI-enhanced real-time communication tools, we are tapping into another burgeoning market. The conversational AI market is set to grow to almost $42 billion by 2030.
Q: What differentiates QuickBlox from the competition?
A: There are a few things that make QuickBlox standout. Unlike our competitors, we provide a range of customization-ready solutions that cover popular use cases and can be easily integrated into our customer’s platform/applications.
Another significant distinction is that we can deploy our software, including ready apps, in our customer’s private cloud. This means our customers enjoy complete control of their user’s data and can satisfy compliance needs. This is vital for industries like healthcare and finance.
Lastly, as far as I’m aware, we’re the only CPaaS provider developing AI-integrated chat apps, which we hope to release later this year.
Q: What are QuickBlox’s future goals?
A: Future company goals involve expanding our range of customizable plugins to include tools like AI, streaming, and more. We are engaged in a lot of innovation, and have exciting product updates planned for this year and beyond. As a bootstrapped company, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to develop our business and technology through our internal efforts and the support of our customers. Now the company is interested in engaging with supportive partners to grow the company to the next level.