August 24, 2016
Every so often I bump into a company that's stayed well out of the spotlight, kept its collective heads down, and built up a thriving business - while competitors were unaware the company even exists.
Consider Revel Media Group, which is based in the greater Salt Lake City area. Revel is a digital signage solutions provider that leads with content, and since starting up about six years ago, has seen triple digit growth, year after year.
The company was started by Brian Fitzpatrick and a business partner, with Brian having cashed out of a business he built installing and managing very high-end home theatre and home automation systems for stinking rich people.
What Revel does is, effectively, creative and content management as a service. Customers pay a set fee, and get as much creative as they need, turned around as fast as 24-hours. It's not for major brands. But for retailers who have a lot to say and sell, it's a cost and timing model that resonates for them.
We spoke at Seneca's partner conference outside Syracuse, NY earlier in August.
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August 17, 2016
If you're looking for concrete evidence that the digital signage business is now doing some serious volume, consider the word on this latest Sixteen:Nine podcast from Jeff Hastings, the CEO of BrightSign. His shipping department is packing and moving roughly 1,000 units a day.
Let me repeat that ... a day.
BrightSign designs, builds and markets little purple boxes used by a LOT of network operators as media players. In our chat, Hastings talks about BrightSign’s direct ties to another purple box company in Silicon Valley, Roku, and how that relationship has evolved.
One of the really sharp guys in this industry, Hastings talks about why the company is moving so much product this year, and how it will soon have more than 1 million units deployed. He also talks about where the company and industry are headed.
This was a Skype chat, so you'll hear the odd network hiccup and scratchiness. But it is 99% solid sound.
August 10, 2016
This week, Sixteen:Nine speaks with Andrew Farah, the CEO and one of the founders of Density, a San Francisco-area start-up that's going at crowd tracking in a different way.
Density puts a small sensor at the doorway or doorways leading into a venue or a targeted area,uses infrared beams to measure anonymous movements as people come and go, and generates real-time and historical data that can be integrated into different devices and systems, like digital signage networks.
The attraction to digital signage network operators is that it can do accurate crowd counting without using camera-based video analytics, which can get expensive and tends to freak out some consumers and privacy advocates.
In simple terms, what it means is an airport could have digital displays that show security screening wait times, based on crowd density, at different screening areas (and load-balance crowds who will likely go to the lines that are faster). It could also be used for things like telling consumers if tables are free at popular restaurants.
Interesting chat. Well worth a listen.
August 3, 2016
This week I’m speaking with Florian Rotberg, the managing director at the Munich-based digital signage consulting and events firm Invidis. Florian talks about the background of his company, and his impressions of the global digital signage market.
Rotberg goes into detail about the differences between the North American and European/EMEA market, and the challenges American and Canadian companies run into trying to expand across the Atlantic.
We had our chat in a noisier than expected press room in June at InfoComm, just ahead of the Digital Signage Summit he put on there.
July 27, 2016
In this episode, John Wang, the CEO of Taipei-based IAdea, talks about the roots of his company, which primarily makes commercial-grade media players and all-in-one devices for the digital signage market.
He recalls starting up the business right out of school in Taiwan, and unfortunately timing that startup right when the first Internet bubble burst. Wang talks about the idea of Information Appliances - the IA in IAdea - and the journey taken by the company to today.
Now a trusted supplier for many signage software firms and network operators, Wang talks about staying on top of emerging technologies and where his company, and the business as a whole, are going. He also goers into the perils of cheap devices and the importance of commercial, rugged product for the signage business.
July 20, 2016
This week I am speaking with Randy Pagnan, the RP in RP Visual Solutions, an Anaheim, California company that's in the business of designing and manufacturing the special structures that hold signature digital signage projects in place.
In this conversation, done at last month's InfoComm trade show in Las Vegas, Randy talks about the origins of his company and some of the most notable projects he's done, include the giant, curved LED wall in the Westgate SuperBook in Vegas, and the digital-heavy Microsoft stores.
Randy also talks about the future for display tech, and how fine pixel-pitch LED will have a big impact, with LED display as easy to buy as carpeting. His goal: be the best LED carpet-layer out there.
July 13, 2016
This week, I am speaking with Vincent Encontre, the CEO of the Toulouse, France-based interactive software firm Intuilab, which has a great product for reducing the time, cost and complications of getting interactive touchscreen projects together.
Encontre talks about the company's roots, servicing companies like Airbus, and how it pivoted into interactive digital. We spend a lot of time talking about the product, which is designed to allow people with zero coding chops to produce and publish slick multi-touch applications. We also talk about the process of building interactive screen experiences, and how to do it well.
We spoke last month in a Las Vegas Convention Center hallway, on the first exhibit hall morning for InfoComm. As with most of my InfoComm interviews (still three more on the way), it gets a little noisy in the background.
July 6, 2016
In this episode, I’m speaking with Jennifer Davis, who is Chief Marketing Officer for Leyard and also the VP of Marketing and Product Strategy for Planar, which is now owned by Leyard. So she’s one busy puppy these days.
Jennifer grabbed us a meeting space on the exhibit floor at InfoComm last month, and we spent a half-hour talking about the LED display business, and what it has been like transitioning from a small company based in gloriously weird Portland to being part of a giant LED display company based in Beijing.
We finished off talking about the near absence of women in this business, particularly in senior roles, and what might change that.
June 29, 2016
In this episode, I’m speaking with Rick Cope, the founder and CEO of NanoLumens, which makes and markets its own line of unique indoor and outdoor LED displays from its facilities in Atlanta.
Rick has a really interesting background, coming out of the US Marines, working for DARPA, making electric cars 20 years ago, and then getting into areas like fuel cells and battery charging systems.
Rick talks about how NanoLumens got started, how his business has grown very crowded, and how he plans to go after overseas companies he believes are violating NanoLumens' patents. He also talks about the stinger missile he has in his office.
We did this interview on the floor at InfoComm, which is why it’s so noisy. That’s his wife Karen Robinson laughing and yakking in the background. She’s EVP for Strategy at the company.
June 22, 2016
Jeremy Gavin, the founder of Screenfeed, sat down with me in an empty conference room at InfoComm earlier this month.
Jeremy runs a Minneapolis company that generates great-looking, ready-made content feeds for digital signage networks. Screenfeed, in many ways, reinvented the whole approach to subscription content - moving the business off scrolling tickers and rolling headlines, to a much more visual, curated approach.
It's been very successful and Screenfeed has network clients around the world. Jeremy walked me through how and why he started Screenfeed, and some interesting new research that shows subscription content attracts viewers and drives recall for digital signage messaging.
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