SXSW Startups: Fantag

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 11, 2019

Fifty diverse startups will aim to impress a panel of judges and a live audience with their skills, creativity and innovation at SXSW Pitch Presented by Cyndx. Winners in 10 categories will be announced at the Pitch Award Ceremony at 6:30 pm Sunday, March 10, at the Hilton Austin.

A finalist in Entertainment and Content, which will pitch at 3:30 pm Sunday, March 10, Fantag makes applications and embeddable technology that lets everyone access video moments that matter to them. They focus on helping content creators and app developers create, identify, package and distribute those meaningful video highlights in ways that help them reach more customers and generate more revenue. Whether their patented video synchronization technology is integrated into your favorite app, or made available to fans by live event producers, they are powering innovative video experiences and creating a world where no moment is ever lost.

COO Cheryl Beninga shared more about the company.

What is your competitive advantage?
Our technology and team. We have a unique and patented approach to capturing, synching, and distributing video sources, which lets users get the video moments they want with just a touch of a button. We have an experienced team in all areas and we have been part of building successful software businesses in the past.

Could you tell us a little more about your recent partnership with TeamSnap Live! and how this development furthers Fantag’s mission?
Fantag’s mission is to simplify the process of unlocking moments from video and make it easy for everyone to identify, capture and share highlights from life’s experiences.

Our partnership with TeamSnap falls in line with our mission. We have worked with them to integrate our video highlight technology directly into TeamSnap Live!, which enables their users to identify and share meaningful video highlights with other members of their team.

Phase 1 of this partnership served to demonstrate a desire for this capability from TeamSnap users. We are now outlining the next phase of our partnership, which may look to integrate more advanced video highlight capabilities into their platform, such as highlight reels, post-game video upload, and access to full-length video streams.

What are the next steps for Fantag?
Fantag began as a free, stand-alone mobile app. We then added and monetized Fantag Manager, which gave users a cloud platform for managing all their video, as well as more advanced features such as adding monetization options, creating additional highlights, and generating highlight reels.

While we continue to deliver our stand-alone application, we have also identified new opportunities to offer our patented technology to sports software companies and live streaming technology companies.

We are developing embeddable APIs and SDK libraries that will “power” the video and video highlights in these applications and platforms. With our patented video synchronization technology, we have distinct and valuable expertise in enabling the ability to capture, share, monetize and distribute video moments. Our business customers can generate more revenue, increase engagement in their apps, and differentiate their product offering by integrating with our innovative video technology.

Fantag users range from coaches to video students to parents. How did you ensure that the app was user-friendly to its diverse target audience?
It comes down to a simple understanding: no matter who you are or what your role is on a team, when it comes to video, everyone wants the moments that matter to them. You’re looking for the moment that helps you coach your athletes, or a moment that helps you tell a story of the game, or a highlight from the season that you can cherish forever.

Our focus is on helping anyone access that moment that matters to them, and then helping them package and distribute those moments in whatever way best helps them get more value from their video. With that as our focus, and a de-emphasis on controlling what users can do with or where they can use that content, we can create a user experience that positions all of our users for success.

In terms of specific user experience design, we have incorporated best practices in user design and we actively integrated feedback from user testing along the way. Since our technology and the experience are new, we have maintained an emphasis on the need to prompt and educate wherever possible.

Fantag is based in Sacramento. Tell us about the startup scene there.
Sacramento has a thriving startup ecosystem with the San Francisco Bay Area just an hour and half by car or train to reach investors and partners. With universities like UC Davis and Sacramento State, both with strong entrepreneurship programs, and leading companies like Intel, Oracle, CBS Interactive and Electronic Arts having a presence, there is plenty of talent here. Startups are supportive of one another and regularly share learnings at Startup Grind and other events. Costs for startups are substantially less than in the Bay Area so our investment dollars have a longer runway. Fantag was started in San Jose and moved to Sacramento to take advantage of this ecosystem.

How did your team come together?
The Fantag team came together at the end of 2015. I met Brian Dombrowski and Scott Bennett, who had been building the company in San Jose. I was living in Sacramento and had worked in venture capital with Intel Capital and a Sacramento-based VC fund. I am a parent with children playing youth sports and immediately loved the Fantag use case. I made an introduction to John Stone, a local investor and entrepreneur, who had founded software company PowerSchool that sold to Apple. John invested and became an active Advisor to Fantag. He joined Fantag as an employee in 2016 when the company moved to Sacramento.

If your team members weren’t involved in building Fantag, what would they be doing?
Sleeping more!

Looking at the entire tech industry, what trend is your team most excited about?
5G and Internet of Things: Basically everything being connected. What we have now is a proof of concept. Moving forward, we’ll look at mainstream products and question why they aren’t connected. The older infrastructure (3G and 4G) will get repurposed for the IOT, because that requires less bandwidth. And 5G will help broaden and strengthen connections for everyone.

What technology would you call the Myspace of 2019…in other words, something we won’t be thinking so much about in 2020 and beyond?
Cable TV. Already 60 percent of Americans have “cut the cord” in favor of subscription-based OTT and online options.

Also, though not a technology, we believe the concept of individual privacy will be dead — as a direct result of technology. The asset we will have to protect is individual reputation. With increased connectivity, with cameras everywhere, consumer DNA testing, and AI technology able to identify virtually anyone…no one will be anonymous. The industry and governments will need to work through fair play rules for dealing with all this private information of individuals.

What do you enjoy most and least about the startup experience?
The ever-changing nature of it. Things that you solidify or define one day might require course correction a mere one month later! You need to always be assessing the problems, opportunities and landscape and know when to make changes or stay the course. It’s challenging work that teaches you a lot and feels great when you get it right!

What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d had that you’d give to others wanting to join the startup journey?
Build to collect proofs, not to scale. You will learn a lot about your market, your customer, and even the main aspect of your product/offering that is truly special. Don’t spend so much time building the perfect, scalable version. Build what you need to that will help you learn the most possible and FAST!

Look for more interviews with other SXSW Pitch finalists in this space between now and March.

Click here to see all 50 finalists for SXSW Pitch 2019, along with the links to their interviews on Medium.

Also, if you are an entrepreneur, check out all the cool panels and presentations in the Entrepreneurship and Startups Track, which runs March 8–12 at SXSW.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

SXSW Startups: Fantag was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Tags: Videos, Startups, Sports, Sacramento, Startup, Sacramento State, San Jose, John, Iot, UC Davis, Sdk, Intel Capital, Sxsw, Bay Area, Distribution, San Francisco Bay Area, Ott, PowerSchool, Hugh Forrest, Hilton Austin, Fantag, Scott Bennett, Startup Grind, John Stone, Austin Startups, Cyndx Winners, Cheryl Beninga, TeamSnap, Sacramento Tell, Intel Oracle CBS Interactive, Brian Dombrowski


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