Did you master the art of zooming during the pandemic?  In a world when  COVID still exists and gas is $4 plus per gallon, do you plan to retain Zoom as an integral part of your business and community outreach?

Then you sound like a customer who’s ready for NoW, a feature-rich and Black-owned conferencing service that provides small businesses and personal users many of the features available to Zoom users, but at a much higher price.

NoW, launched in August 2021, was developed by Kansas City resident Kenneth Yancy.  With nearly 40 years of experience in digital marketing, custom software development and as a serial entrepreneur, Yancy says he looks at technology and marketing with common sense.“To really have an impact on the community, you’ve got to understand the issues that are hurting or limiting people. And if you can write software to address that – and I think you should – that’s what I do, and have done for 38 years,” said Yancy.Using his common sense approach to solving what’s hurting people, Yancy, 57, set out to make Zoom better, addressing what he saw as some of the platform’s limitations.  

NoW Features 

NoW has all of the basics of Zoom, but even more whistles and bells.  What’s really great is all of the features are available to NoW’s basic users and at an affordable price.  

If you’re using the free version of zoom, with its limit to 40 minute calls, with no option for recording, and it’s meeting your needs, then you’re probably okay where you are.  However, if you always find yourself rushing to finish your call within Zoom’s 40 minute window, then you need to take a closer look at NoW. 

Anyone currently using Zoom’s basic plan for $14.99 per month, look at this head-to-head comparison.  

Here’s what you get for $14.97 per month from NoW. 

NoW:   250 users 

Zoom: 100

NoW:  Custom branding 

Zoom: Available in upgraded plans 

NoW:  Waiting room music of your choice

Zoom:  Not available on zoom.  

NoW:  Text message notifications sent to invited attendees 15 minutes before the meeting 

Zoom:  Not available at any level

NoW:  Enhanced Security, with advance encryption to help keep your meetings private 

Zoom:  Continues to have problems with hacking 

NoW:  Searchable transcription – this one of our favorites.  Not only do you get a recording, you get a transcript of the meeting that’s searchable. So, you can find that reference made to XYZ. Plus with a timestamp, if needed, you can easily find the reference in your recording.  

Zoom:  Doesn’t have this at any level.  

NoW:  Service also includes conference calling

Zoom:  Available on upgraded plans.  

NoW:  Live video streaming on Youtube 

Zoom:  Available with upgraded plans

NoW:  Breakout rooms 

Zoom:  Available with upgraded plans 

Many of those upgraded features on Zoom require the purchase of a minimum of 10 licenses for an annual inviestment of $1999.  

Missouri State Rep. Michael Johnson is a NoW subscriber and fan and appreciates that NoW is Black-owned.  

“I also appreciate it because Zoom is a little prehistoric now. It’s been a little over a decade and NoW is more formidable,” says Johnson.  

Rep. Johnson says he also likes that he can select the genre of music to play in the waiting room that fits the atmosphere.  He also likes the search feature that helps you find exactly what you’re looking for.  

Marketing NoW

Yancy has identified his targeted audience as underserved communities, small businesses with 100 or less employees and non-profits.

If you want to check out NoW, Yancy offers a free 14-day trial.  While he thinks the product’s ease of use and enhanced features will help sell the product, he knows there’s more work to be done to grow his subscriber list.  

So, he’s added a marketing approach that’s worked for many multi million dollar companies, affinity marketing. It’s an approach that works with groups and organizations to market the product to their members.  In return, the organization’s earn a fee from each one of its members that subscribe to NoW.  

So far, Yancy is developing an affinity program with the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce but he’s looking for other groups who have members with a regular need for streaming.

“We’re gonna pay them $3 per month for each one of their members that switch over and that means that the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce will now have some revenue to create scholarships and to create funds for small businesses to start,” he said.

What’s Ahead 

Yancy is already working on additional enhancements to NoW.  He’s looking to raise capital to help cover the cost of developing the first bilingual video conferencing platform. This feature, called “real-time translation,” will translate one language to another.

Yancy anticipates launching a NoW app that is iPhone and Android accessible in late August,

Rep. Johnson said these are features that will take NoW to yet another level.

Simone Garza is a Report for America corps membere ased at The Community voice covering Kansas City’s African-American community. 

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