Smartphones, tablets and desktop computers: they could have so much more potential if someone could find a decent way to make them work together more efficiently.
Around this time last year, a team of three Dutch developers received €500k in seed funding from Telekom’s hub:raum accelerator to work on a content interaction platform. The Vigour Video product will be going live by the end of this year, for one of the largest media companies in the world, and could also be interesting for content subscription services like Netflix.
CEO and co-founder of Vigour, Ramon Duivenvoorden tells us about their technology and why it’s important not to spend too much time on the startup scene.
WebMagazin: Tell us about Vigour, how does it work?
Ramon Duivenvoorden: We developed a technology that enables user interfaces to run seamlessly on any platform (phone, tablet, web, TV, consoles etc). With Vigour, ‚multiscreen‘ means more than reaching multiple platforms.
Our interfaces enable an entirely new level of content interaction as multiple screens can be combined to take maximum advantage of their screen real estate and hardware capabilities. The roles of different devices change based on the context of the user.
Unifying screens across multiple devices
Our ‚Vigour Video‘ product enables media companies to deliver new value to customers of their video services; Viewers can swipe their movie streams from one device to another, and use extra devices as remote controller or second screen.
WM: What would you say makes Vigour a special startup?
Ramon: One of the things that makes us different from many other startups in town is our focus on large multinational customers. We decided in an early stage that the best way to get our technology in the hands of as many people as possible is to work with market leaders that have great content and a large audience. We think that Vigour Video has the potential to truly disrupt the way people interact with media, but we cannot make that happen without the companies that produce and distribute content.
Being a startup is not a way of life
One side-effect of our focus on large customers is the fact that we don’t like to over-emphasise our startup status. For us having a startup is not a goal in itself or a way of life, we are doing this because we want to build a meaningful business. I think that an ecosystem like we have in Berlin is a great springboard for young and innovative companies, but sometimes get the idea that founders are spending too much of their time in the startup scene.
The truth is that most companies won’t learn about or build relationships with their customers on founder drinks, pitch competitions and networking events.
The Vigour team: Marcus Besjes, Ramon Duivenvoorden and Youri Daamen
WM: What stage of development are you in at the moment?
Ramon: We raised seed funding last year in a round lead by T-Ventures. From the moment we raised that round we received strong interest from large media companies all around Europe and even from the US. People in the media industry have been talking about multiscreen solutions for a long time by now, but nothing that is currently out there provides a truly fluid user experience across multiple devices in the way that Vigour Video does.
The product demo ‚wow‘ moment
When people first see our demo in action there is always a ‚wow‘ moment. The sales cycle from that first magical moment towards a multi-year commercial deal is longer and more complicated than I initially expected. But once a deal is closed and you get the opportunity to bring your technology into the hands of hundreds of thousands of people it is worth the wait. We will be live with our first commercial rollout before the end of the year, so it is definitely an exciting period right now.
WM: What’s the financial concept behind Vigour?
Ramon: Customers pay us a monthly fee that includes a license to our technology, use of our cloud service and support. We tie our success to that of our customers, and our business model scales with the growth of their video services.
WM: How did you create the idea for Vigour?
Ramon: We were invited to work on an innovation project for the Dutch telecom provider KPN. During the project we had to build a prototype that would allow users to watch video content from any screen in the household. We quickly started thinking about the potential of creating a really fluid user experience using multiple screens at the same time and effortlessly moving from one screen to the other.
When we realised that it would be very difficult to create a high performance user interface across all those platforms we started building our own framework to overcome the problems we encountered. This was a first step into the direction of the technology platform that powers our Vigour Video solution today.
WM: What were you working at before then?
Ramon: Studying and working. Before we founded Vigour we already had our own development agency. When we were asked to join the KPN project it felt like a huge break-through.
Working with KPN has been a very important period for us, but also a period in which we learned that it is hard to create something truly disruptive within the complex context of a large enterprise. We believed so much in the technology and the concept that we decided to fully focus on it with our own company.
From Amsterdam to Berlin
WM: You all started out in The Netherlands. What brought you to Berlin?
Ramon: We met the founder of Startupbootcamp (Alex Farcet) on a party of the SBC program in Amsterdam. When we told him about our technology and ideas he invited us straight away to join the selection days of his program in Berlin. Berlin has given us a lot of opportunities that we might not have found in The Netherlands.
Within a few months we made connections with industry leaders and investors from all around Europe and raised a good seed round. Right now our focus is on a European and even global level, but starting our company within the capital of the biggest European market has definitely helped us getting things of the ground.