Brainshark Debuts at Red Herring’s Venture 2000 Conference

Communications ASP Brainshark (Waltham, MASS) unveiled its offerings this morning at Red Herring’s Venture 2000 Conference.

Brainsharkprovides an automated self-service solution using PowerPoint, a telephone and an Internet browser to deliver mission-critical information directly from the expert to the audience.

“We spoke to companies like Cisco and heard one complaint across the board,” Joe Gustafson, chief executive officer, said. “They wanted a way to get information and knowledge from the experts or corporations, out to their user base of sales personnel and other offices in a quick and cost-efficient manner that could be tracked.”

After talking with its targeted customer base to see where the difficulties lay, Brainshark built the solution around the problem. “We are bringing business communication to the next level by adding rich media to presentations,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson explained to ASP-News, “The product starts with PowerPoint. The users takes the exiting document, uploads it to our site and we put it into HTML.”

Next step for the user is to pick up the telephone and modify the document using voice commands. Brainshark automatically indexes the content, allowing the client to create a new presentation based on the indexed presentations. Brainshark delivers the presentation.

Real Audio or Microsoft Media Player is needed to view the presentation.

Brainshark, originally designed for large companies, has applicability all the way down to the individual user. “There is a terrific need in the sales and marketing arena for rich media communication,” Gustafson said. Initial clients include Putnam Investment, Open Market, Net Silicon and Progress Software.

Brainshark currently offers two pricing models. Named User starts at $25 per user, per month. It allows unlimited authoring and viewing. According to Gustafson, prices in this mode rapidly decline based on the number of users. “More users, less cost,” he said.

The second model is Internet Views. Similar to Web marketing, a presentation will be put online and attached to a corporate site. There are no limitations, but cost is 80 cents per view.

“Progress used it in the form of an advertisement to get their customer base to go to their user conference,” Gustafson explained.

Brainshark was founded in September 1999. In its first round of funding, the company raised $4.5 million and was led by One Liberty Ventures (Cambridge, Mass), SI Ventures (Fort Meyers, FL) and Citizens Capital Corp. (Boston) and Reach Internet Incubator LLP.

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