November 10, 2017

Media Tech Venture Studio Participant Q&A: VidRovr

Earlier this year, we announced the launch of the Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio in partnership with R/GA. This is a new program focused on identifying and developing innovative growth- and early-stage companies with disruptive technologies that will shape the future of digital entertainment and media consumption.

The program, consisting of 8 innovative startups, is well under way and we wanted to catch up with some of the founders to see how things are progressing. For our first participant spotlight, we sat down with VidRovr's CEO Joe Ellis to talk about the company's background story and experience so far.

What is the problem VidRovr is trying to solve and how did you identify this problem?

VidRovr is an enterprise video search solution that automatically analyzes a company’s large video collections to make the content inside the videos searchable and discoverable.  The VidRovr solution is used by large broadcasters and digital first publishers to enable their editors to quickly and seamlessly search through their real-time and archived video content in order to publish more relevant video content online.

Currently media companies have massive real-time and archival video libraries that users can’t find content in, so the video libraries go under monetized.  Companies have a hard time leveraging their video libraries and publishing their content onto social media, their own websites, or linking videos to articles.  

We learned about this problem while my co-founder Dan and I were PhD candidates at Columbia University.  We conducted interviews with over 100 editors, writers and media executives to learn more about how a video search solution we built at Columbia, called News Rover, could be used in their industries.

Tell us how you first came up with the concept for VidRovr.

We originally built a system called News Rover, which automatically stored and processed 100 hours of television news a day, and performed information extraction algorithms on the video itself to make the video content searchable.  Columbia patented the solution and technologies, and after speaking with people from across the media ecosystem we realized that our platform solved real needs, and had compelling value propositions for media companies.

What drew you to this the Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio program?  

We were excited about working with Verizon, a massive and influential technology/media company. We were also drawn to the design team, and product focused help that we could receive from the R/GA services teams.

What’s the most valuable lessons/advice you’ve received thus far?

I think working with the R/GA services team has been really influential in helping both myself and my co-founder Dan, sympathize with both companies and end users of white label video search solution.  We were both technical engineers starting the company, so having their guidance and vast experience building amazing user products where search is heavily leveraged has been awesome. You can’t get that experience anywhere else and we have tried to learn as much as possible from them.

What have been the highlights of the program thus far and what aspects of the program do you find most useful for yourself and VidRovr?

Working on the redesign of our white label search solution with the R/GA visual and experience design teams has been incredible. We  have made leaps and bounds forward in both design and product vision, which I don’t think we could have done without them. Also, integrating with Oath’s video library team has been a really great experience, and we have been able to test our solution with the needs of one of the largest digital video publishers to date.

Tags: Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio , VIdrovr , video , media , Paul Heitlinger , R/GA Ventures