Ep14: Making Zoom work for your small business

Charlotte Holloway, Zoom Video Communications

Charlotte Holloway from Zoom talks to us about making Zoom work for your small business

How would you go about making Zoom work for your small business?

Throughout the pandemic, Zoom experienced huge global success, becoming a leader in helping schools, organisations and businesses continue working, communicating and trading, when we were confined to our homes. 

Generating over $4billion revenue in 2021, Zoom has become the go-to for video chat. Now, this growth looks set to continue, as organisations around the world choose to adopt more remote or hybrid ways of working. 

We talk to Charlotte Holloway, Zoom’s Government Relations Director UK & Ireland, about the story behind one of the world’s fastest growing apps, and how you can harness this technology, making Zoom work for your small business.

Listen online using the player below or search ‘Outset Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app.

Find out more about Zoom at https://zoom.us

We hope you enjoy this episode. Get in touch for more information on how we can support your business start-up journey.

Read the full transcript here

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the Outset Podcast, the business startup podcast from Outset Cornwall for support and inspiration to start, run and grow your business. Here’s your host Rich Gunton.

Rich Gunton (00:15):

So welcome to another Outset Podcast. And today we are talking all, all things, Zoom making Zoom work for your business. So throughout the pandemic, Zoom has enjoyed phenomenal success globally pivoting their business to become a leader in helping businesses continue working, communicating, and more importantly trading. And we talk about the story of Zoom and how small businesses can harness the power of Zoom’s technology to benefit their business. Charlotte Holloway is the Government Relations Director for UK and Ireland for Zoom, and she joins us on the Outset podcast. Hello.

Charlotte Holloway (00:55):

Hello, great to be here. Rich. Thank you.

Rich Gunton (00:58):

Thank you. It’s fantastic to be talking to a human being behind the world of, of Zoom. Very exciting.

Charlotte Holloway (01:05):

We do exist. There are many of us

Rich Gunton (01:08):

<Laugh> How did you get to become where you are today?

Charlotte Holloway (01:13):

My background is very much in technology policy. So I’ve previously been policy director of TechUK, which is the national trade body. I’ve worked in a number of economic think tanks and research organizations. And, you know, I think for your audience, one of the things that’s always really driven me is where are the new forms of economic growth coming from? And also from a UK perspective, how do we get more, more growth, more startups, more scale ups, right across the UK in places like Cornwall and the far Southwest. So that’s something that really drives me. I was chief of staff a number of years ago on something called The Scale Up Report written by Sherry Kutu which advised the government on exactly this issue of how we can get more high growth companies. We need them across the UK.

Charlotte Holloway (02:00):

We need more high value, high quality jobs for sort of everybody to participate in. And we know that kind of amazing things happen in businesses when new technologies are deployed in innovative and exciting ways as traditional sectors expand and develop. So I think what’s really interesting if I sort of bring it onto Zoom; what kind of attracted me to the role at Zoom really is that kind of Zoom-boom the country, and the globe was facing in terms of the pandemic. Zoom, really, you know, aimed to step up to that challenge of, we grew from tens of millions of users globally to hundreds of millions, about 5% of the global population was using us daily. From my perspective to sort of come in, be able to, you know, use my background in technology and economics and passion for the SMEs and scale ups, to be able to apply that to in, in a company like Zoom, which has been able to keep parts of the economy kind of going and on its feet in, in many senses has been a real privilege, but we also have this new situation we’re at now, what comes next?

Charlotte Holloway (03:05):

How do we take, you know, this kind of digital acceleration, you know, 10 years, this happened in one year. In terms of how companies of all sizes or parts of the public sector have suddenly had to take on digital in new ways, you know, how do we make sure we keep the best bit of that going forward? What does remote and hybrid and blended work look like, which I’m sure are all topics you’d like to talk about today?

Rich Gunton (03:27):

Absolutely, absolutely. And I love the Zoom boom, to be honest, that’s not come across my ears before; a 10 year growth in, in a year, I guess is very, very real as to what’s been experienced, I suppose. And, as you say, remote working and hybrid, and I think those sorts of terms, are really quite interesting. My partner works for a large American corporate, she’s in finance. And, you know, has basically been told that now and the, for the foreseeable future, they are all home workers. And they all use Zoom and obviously they’ve got different levels of Zoom for the different and sort of security levels that they work within. But it seems that they are now setting up their boardroom. So those that are going into the environment, the office environment be it here or in the States or Germany or wherever, and then they can connect via Zoom and also the actual physical boardroom. I suppose, that’s kind of a, a sort of a next stages of, of where we are today, I suppose, is that right?

Charlotte Holloway (04:23):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this sort of blended or what we would call a sort of hybrid approach is really for Zoom about making sure our customers, our clients, whoever they use as are that they have a parity of experience, right? So that your experience means in the meeting, shouldn’t be diminished because you’re not in the room in it. In fact, we think that it can be enhanced by having aspects of the Zoom platform. So there’s Zoom as we are using it now to do this podcast, but there’s also beyond the sort of video conferencing element. We’ve also got lots of other parts of our platform. So when we think out this world of blended and hybrid work, it’s really about ensuring that our customers and our users don’t feel that they have a diminished experience of interacting with their colleagues or their stakeholders through not physically being in the room with them.

Charlotte Holloway (05:17):

And in fact, we’re constantly innovating new products and solutions that the can actually enhance and expand that experience of interaction. So we have, for example, Zoom phone is a telephony service, which integrates with the Zoom platform. So enables you as a user, you can be working seamlessly between video and telephone calls in a way that doesn’t mean that you are operating off different Zoom apps, a really exciting development, which launched earlier this year enables you to use other types of software in your Zoom video experience. So take things such as kind of CRM software or accountancy software and eCommerce when you’re working collaboratively in a way that you can’t do quite in the same way. If you’re in a meeting room, you can actually get that enhanced experience of being able to work on projects in real time, and just completely remove certain frictions to collaborative working.

Charlotte Holloway (06:12):

That’s really exciting. And we’ve also launched Zoom events. So it’s a system that allows small businesses, large businesses to run events in a way, not kind of done before to be able to market them, to be able to just add the extra string to their bow of how they use Zoom. So for us, we are seeing, you know, I know your, your listeners will be principally from SMEs, from startups. We are seeing some really excited end-use cases where businesses that maybe had fairly low digital adoption or digital uses in their company are now starting to do things where they’re using these tools and, and exporting for the first time reaching new markets internationally; it’s really, really exciting. So we have some translation features, some closed caption features enable any barriers that there might be for a small business in Truro to reach a new market say in Brazil, those kind of tools are enabling them to reach new markets and interact with a new potential customer base that, that they wouldn’t maybe have been able to previously.

Charlotte Holloway (07:15):

So there are some really exciting things going on there. We are in a really interesting place as a country. You know, there are some in the school of thought that go, everything needs to return to normal. We thought everybody’s got to get back to work. Let’s have the economy running exactly as it did before, but actually we’re seeing a lot of employees and businesses think it’s time to do things differently. And many businesses and workers are already committing to not going back to, to business as usual. We’ve seen about 80% of home workers are saying that they want to continue working remotely, at least some of the time. And we are already seeing a lot of reports and statistics on the productivity, better benefits that have, that have helped small businesses to grow from that and giving both workers the flexibility that they want, but also small businesses, the ability to tap into different parts of the workforce that they might not have been able to go to.

Charlotte Holloway (08:12):

So whether geography might have been a limitation or people with caring responsibilities or other types of responsibilities, that flexibility is suddenly opening up this whole new world of talent for startups and scale ups and SMEs to think about their workforce and how they manage their employees in a completely different way. So, yeah, it’s a really, really exciting time. We are hearing all the fantastic examples of how businesses are using a theme to do just incredibly exciting things. We were the most downloaded app in the UK in 2020 last year on the Apple App Store, more, more downloaded than the NHS Track and Trace app. So for a lot of small businesses, they may not have been thought of themselves as particularly digital before now, there’s this, this sort of prevalence of the product that allows them to know that they can do things differently that their business operations can be done safely and securely with all of Zoom security features and so forth. But also it’s breaking down those barriers to potential new businesses for new business, new customers, new employees, all the rest of it. Really, really exciting times.

Rich Gunton (09:19):

Absolutely exciting, very interesting to hear, you know, the downloads there for last year versus the NHS app, but that’s that is phenomenal. You know, the new normal is very much a, well, I guess, a buzzword isn’t it in media and that type of thing at the moment. And when we think about the Outset programme and delivering the Outset Cornwall sessions as we do via Zoom at the moment, and we’re recording this in mid, mid August 2021, but next month we are looking at doing some physical delivery again, you know, in person, I suppose. But only about sort of 15, 20% of our overall schedule. And that’s largely because we’ve asked our clients, our customers, what they prefer, and they are more than happy to use the, the wonders of Zoom as a platform, as the breakout rooms, et cetera, to be able to learn and develop their skills into self employment, which is obviously what the Outset programme’s about, but also then to harness that experience and that ease of use of a technology, you know, platform to be able to, like you say, be in Truro for instance, and be trading in Brazil or, or, or wherever really is a, probably a first and whilst we had, you know, Skype and we’ve got Google and Teams, and there are other providers out there, the verb, you know, from Zoom is really quite phenomenal.

Rich Gunton (10:33):

Why do you think that is what happens to your competitors?

Charlotte Holloway (10:36):

That’s a really great question and just fantastic rich to hear that Zoom is working so well for Outset. There’s definitely a moment in March, April, 2020, when it was clear that the UK was going into lockdown, it was very, very uncertain time. And, you know, this was echoed in, in countries across the globe and it sort of may last year, we had 15 million unique daily users in the UK every day, which is a sort of staggering percentage of the adult population. And yes, a lot of that would be business, but it was also lots of different use cases emerging. So for the self-employed personal trainer, you know, moving to online classes, you know, people in care homes wanting to connect with their families and loved ones. So I wouldn’t want to say anything about competitors directly, but I think where we do see really positive experiences of them is, is so frictionless and, and kind of straightforward to use the quality of the experience that people get.

Charlotte Holloway (11:36):

And for our CEO, I found to Eric, this is so, so important that no matter what device you are, joining your Zoom meeting on no matter what bandwidth you’ve got, if you are in, you know, I know obviously Cornwall has benefited from, from super-fast broadband pilots and so forth, but there are still pockets where there are issues. If you are joining on a two megabit connection, or if you’re joining on a hundred megabit collection, the way the technology works is that it shouldn’t have that feeling of disparity that somebody’s glitching, that, that, that, that experience kind of harmonises in the way the backend works. And that’s, that’s something that’s always been really important to our, our founder and CEO, Eric, he worked for a competitor, which may or may not be one that you mentioned on the list.

Rich Gunton (12:21):


Charlotte Holloway (12:21):

Yeah. And for a number of years before he set up Zoom and for him, he wanted to make sure that that user experience, how it felt from the front end was absolutely at the forefront of how the coding is done and how the design intent is done. So, you know, very humbling to see the way in which people have taken up Zoom. When we look at some of the, the kind of digital charities in the UK that are trying to get people online and particularly those who are isolated during the pandemic, getting them on helping people with how they do of applications, if they’re affected by redundancies and so forth, we will find that a lot that those charities will use Zoom because it’s very straightforward for people who, you know, maybe don’t have massive digital skills to kind of get onto it whilst also having access to more complex and innovative features for those that need to use it.

Charlotte Holloway (13:15):

So I, it has been a really unique time and it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a period where the company has grown a lot. We’ve just turned 10 years old as a company. And I think the last year has certainly been, you know, incredibly different to the previous nine. We don’t just stop at where we are now, like any growing and aspiring business where we’re constantly looking to reduce waste, innovate, adding new products and features to, to the platform. So we are constantly thinking about ways that we can help small businesses. And I’m sure if any self-employed person or small business owner wanted to, to get in touch with our team, I’d be very happy to talk them through.

Rich Gunton (13:49):

That’s fantastic. And it’s, and it’s interesting to hear being around for, for 10 years. And, and I suppose I would join in perhaps those people that pre COVID and before the, well, even the beginning of last year, possibly hadn’t necessarily come across Zoom as a, as a brand and as a platform to obviously the, the scale it is now. I was listening to something on the radio the other day, very often the pandemic is obviously discussed in some level of a negative aspect on the world and on leads and on people’s lives, et cetera, et cetera. But it is a time that has essentially changed our generation and, and generations to come. There will be positives that come out of that. And I do think that level of interaction albeit using technology rather than face to face can only be in, in a lot of respects, a good thing. And then a lot of positives coming from that. And so from, from your point of view, as Zoom as an organization and as a business harnessing the clear demand that the pandemic has, has given you and reacting so well, has, I guess, been an incredible success story for you. I mean, how was that even planned? Was there one day where you all sat in the office and you thought, crikey, actually we’re going to have come May 15 million people using us; what on earth are we going to do?

Charlotte Holloway (15:02):

I have to give hats off to my colleagues in our engineering and security teams for, you know, meeting the scale of that challenge. There were things our leadership team wanted to do to make sure that we were, you know, doing our bit globally, just, you know, it wasn’t that okay, well, we can’t meet all that demand. We’re just there as we are, you know, there was a real, real concerted effort to make sure that we, you know, we had more data centers where our customers needed them, that we did more and, on the user side to help them manage and understand how to plan their meetings and communications and so forth. Yeah. It was a big, big effort. And, you know, I think there are certainly things that the company learnt along the way. We knew that we always had to keep the security of the platform at the absolute heart.

Charlotte Holloway (15:50):

You may be aware that there is a 40 minute limit for meeting hosts. If they do not have a kind of pro or paid account, one thing we wanted to do is make sure that our platform was freely available to all schools across the globe. So tens of thousands of schools have been using us to deliver their remote learning and help children’s stay in a virtual classroom during that time. So were lots of different things. You know, we kind of did, you know, in a way we’re still, we’re still looking forward and what comes next and how we can be the best company we can be for the post pandemic world, our engineering team, aren’t exactly sitting on their laurels going, Hey, well, we did this massive growth, the pandemic, so it can sit easy now, you know, it’s, it’s constant. How can we improve that experience? How can we, you know, prepare for that new normal, the hybrid working and so forth, which so many companies and leaders are thinking about at the moment.

Rich Gunton (16:46):

Indeed. Yeah, very interesting times. And like you say, the new normal do we go back to how we worked before? And, and I think frankly, the, the answer has to be no, surely it’s not just going to change overnight. And I do think you touched on something there earlier as well about people working from home, whether they be employed or self-employed who maybe have other responsibilities, be a carer for a partner or a child or a parent, et cetera, whereby they don’t necessarily need who be caring 24/7, but it makes the family household so much easier if they’re up in the spare bedroom working for, you know, eight, nine hours a day, rather than across town, et cetera. And again, arguably Zoom facilitates that and, and allows that. And another thing that we have on the Outset project, in Cornwall and in other parts of the country is we work with people who may well have physical or other disabilities, et cetera.

Rich Gunton (17:41):

And I do think that this approach, you know, here I am sitting at my desk in front of my computer talking to you, there are no real boundaries here are there, you know, I mean, we could be meeting in a physical environment, but also we’re able to do it from home or our offices, whether it be here or, or across the globe. And I do think that’s a, a phenomenal way forward for the new normal, rather than going back to perhaps a position where those that maybe started up and created their own businesses and wanted to work internationally or, or those that wanted to potentially aim high for, for some of the higher jobs. But logistically they just were never going to get out of a small town in Cornwall or Wales or, or whatever. We’re actually, no, we’re all on the same map in, in some respects.

Charlotte Holloway (18:26):

Yeah. It’s, it’s a great equalizer. It’s a great democracy in a way. There’s no reason why someone in, in Looe can’t do what someone in London is doing, you know, for, for some of those meetings. I think coming back to Cornwall, you know, we saw earlier this year, the G7 and the big focus on climate change and things that businesses are telling us more and more as they’re thinking about their emissions and their carbon footprint is why are we sending people great distances for meetings? And actually we can often have a more positive experience through using platforms, such as Zoom and be decreasing our carbon footprint. So I think later this year, you know, the UK is hosting the COP26 summit, where there are going to be big announcements made on what the contributions of businesses of all sizes can be towards those kind of national and global efforts.

Charlotte Holloway (19:15):

And this is something where not having to have traffic on the road all the time and so forth can have really big impacts. So there’s, there’s kind of lots of things that we are finding business leaders are coming to us and talking about in a really, really interesting way. And you said it with, with the new normal, right. We don’t quite know what it looks like yet, but to, to simply think that things will go back as they were before the pandemic will, I think miss a lot of the productivity gains and whole load of business, economics, environmental, and other gains that we really need to be thinking about

Rich Gunton (19:50):

Indeed in your role, in, in your position that you are in. And if you, if you’re thinking of perhaps one of the listeners that, that might be there and they, and they’ve just started out in, in business, and they’re looking at new ways of working, have you got any sort of tips or advice that you could pass on to someone literally just starting out whatever they might be doing, a dog walker, or a graphic designer or solicitor?

Charlotte Holloway (20:14):

Yeah. I mean, there’s very practical tips that I just think are very useful through to like, what is the support that Zoom kind of gives its self-employed in small business base. So on the ladder, we have lots of people far cleverer and more technical than I, he can sort of talk through it and coach self with people and small business owners on what their needs are and how to get the most out the platform, depending on the sort of industry that they’re working in. We also recently launched something called Zoom Communities, which is essentially a kind of forum online where people can compare and share issues that they’re having and just really talk about the best solutions for they want. And we’re finding it’s a really rich resource for people to, and our users to learn from each other and not, you know, we, we are constantly trying to come up with great ways in which the product can be used and be made better, but this is a really nice example of what our users and our customers are sharing with each other, what they’ve learned.

Charlotte Holloway (21:10):

So I really recommend checking that out on a practical basis. What do I love about Zoom that makes my life easier every day? I love the integration you could do with setting up a Zoom meeting ID and password within your Google calendar with one click. So if you get the, the Zoom integration into your G suite of products, if, if your business is based off of Google, what it just means is that it makes it one click to be able to have that full Zoom kind of functionality integrated into your, your kind of Google calendar, which is just the time saver. And I just find really, really useful. So that would be my one very practical tip to make life happier for people.

Rich Gunton (21:51):

A great tip. My other, other life, I suppose, is we’ve got a, a migration company. So we work with people here in the UK to immigrate out to the New Zealand and Australia. It would only have been three years. If that two years ago, I’ve been traveling from corn to Manchester and to London, cetera, to do seminars and to do new meetings. And now that we use Zoom, it, it just has speeded up the process. The customer journey from my point of view is, is fantastic. And that integration, like you say, we use G suite and Google calendars, but also calendar of the scheduling calendars I’m sure are, are available, but that integration works so, so well where someone can, you know, book a core via a website within a couple of quick clicks. They’ve got an email back with the Zoom link on there and the date and the time and a lovely sort of end to end seamless way of working. Yeah.

Charlotte Holloway (22:37):

Oh, well, great to hear you using that as well then. Yes,

Rich Gunton (22:40):

<Laugh> yes.

Charlotte Holloway (22:41):

Yeah. <Laugh>

Rich Gunton (22:42):

Super, super. All right, Charlotte. Well, look, you know, I’m sure you are an incredibly busy person and it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on The Outset Cornwall Podcast. I suppose sort of, you know, final words, I mean, what does the rest of this year and the early part of next year look like for you and the world of Zoom?

Charlotte Holloway (23:01):

Yeah, it’s a terribly exciting time. I mean, touch wood, the country is making good progress on coming out of the pandemic. And we want to look at a lot of politic you’re here talking about building back better. We talk Zoom about building forward. So how is it? We can, we can work with businesses of all sizes or charities or parts of the public sector to, to really enhance that experience. So that’s going to be a big, big feature of months ahead, really. So really, really exciting time. Keep your eyes peeled on all this kind of Zoom, social media, and so forth. We’ve got some really, really exciting features launching. We’ve got a major Zoom Topia conference coming up in the Autumn in September. So keep an eye open for that one. Yeah, it’s, it is a really exciting time. So it’s an absolute pleasure to be on the podcast and being that I’m not from Cornwall, but I am from Plymouth in the far Southwest. So it’s always a pleasure to speak to my fellow west country brethren. So thank you for having me on.

Rich Gunton (23:57):

Charlotte. It’s fantastic. And an absolute pleasure. Thank you very, very much indeed for your time.

Announcer (24:04):

Thanks for listening to The Outset Podcast brought to you by the Outset Cornwall programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, HM Government and the Outset Foundation, supporting people to become self-employed and start their own business. For more information, visit outset.org/cornwall.