#175 - How technology can make a live event worth being live and worth experiencing with other people - online

An interview with Sean Heiney, Founder and COO at SignalWire

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to transform the virtual experiences we have today into near-live experiences. My guest is Sean Heiney, Founder and COO at SignalWire.

Sean is an experienced entrepreneur and product marketing/management start-up executive with extensive expertise in SaaS, network security, communication, and VOIP. He has 18 years of startup experience as a serial entrepreneur.

In the early 2000s, Sean formed and built Periscan, a pioneer SaaS-managed security software company specializing in VISA/Mastercard PCI Compliance. The company got acquired by Catbird Networks in 2006.

Sean then led, developed, launched, and marketed new products at Barracuda Networks to over $300M in revenue and IPO. 

In December 2017 he co-founded SignalWire. He drives strategy and business around the SignalWire products and services as well as the FreeSWITCH open-source project. SignalWire has, in the meantime, become the technology backbone of modern communications applications like Amazon, Netflix, and Zoom. 

Their mission is a simple one: To empower you to build whatever you can imagine utilizing software-defined telecom capabilities. 

SignalWire wants its customers to do one thing: To focus on their ideas instead of worrying about developing, scaling, maintaining, and of course, overpaying for complex communications technology and services.

This inspired me, and hence I invited Sean to my podcast. We explore what’s broken in the telecom industry and what’s kept it behind for so long. We also discuss why the video communication tools we’ve become used to like Zoom and Teams are very degrading, demoralizing, or even soul-sucking. Sean elaborates on ‘what can be’ – that it’s up to our own imagination to create the experiences we hope for, and how they are growing a global community of developers from the grass-roots up to enable this. He finishes by sharing his believes about what it takes to build a software business people keep talking about.

Here are some of his quotes:

Everything we’re doing with our tools, we’re enabling developers to do. We don’t claim that we’re gonna have the best ideas around the best way. But we know that the world’s changing, and the current video and audio products that we’re left to collaborate with are soul-sucking. And what we hope to do is enable the next developers, the next product builders: “hey, you don’t have to worry about the technology on the audio-video side. SignalWire has that taken care of. I have to just think about the interface, how I’m going to creatively interact with people using this new technology and make something more human than the current options.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. That business resilience can be hidden in simple things – like productizing elements that underpin the power of your own infrastructure
  2. That to build virtual experiences people keep talking about is about understanding the essence of what people truly value from the non-virtual experiences
  3. How giving away some of your product can help you build a vending machine for growth, and give you the platform for true leverage
  4. Why it’s key to break away from the pack i.e. have an x-factor, and how that can be achieved with very simple, but very lucrative ideas.


For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.