Industry: Information and communications technology, online streaming hardware and software
Year of incorporation: 2010
Product launch: 2014
Founder: Patrick Gharios
Employees at time of interview: One, plus two stakeholders who participate in projects on profit sharing basis
Board of directors/advisors: Neither
DropC is the operator of Hipernation, an online platform cum hardware device that facilitates streaming of content over the internet. The hardware device, of which there are four prototypes on proto-commercial terms since the start of 2014, is the box that aficionados of daylong talkathons will want to die for: it provides for endless delivery of your organization’s speeches and discussions, live. The concept driving this product was solving the problem of poor internet infrastructure, such as Lebanon’s, for organizations that want to directly disseminate content ranging from policy debates and news events to musical events. As the Hipernation box is competing with other streaming devices and as internet infrastructure development will reduce the attractiveness of a box capable of enhancing streaming in low quality internet environments, the company is working on a new version of the box. The new product, whose development started in summer 2014 and which is expected to be ready for field testing at the beginning of 2015, provides the capability to mix inputs from different feeds and edit the content using nothing more than a smartphone. The company is in talks to raise $400,000 in equity in order to create a commercially viable server infrastructure and manufacture 700 hardware devices.
According to company founder Patrick Gharios, Hipernation’s box is a cost efficient solution for capturing events to which the dispatch of a full television team might be overkill, such as TED talks and policy debates organized by nonprofits like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Beirut based Carnegie Middle East Center in fact was one of Hipernation’s early customers this year and the company provided it with dual streaming of Arabic and English content in a setting of simultaneous translation. Gharios bootstrapped the development of the company and four working prototypes until the beginning of 2014, from which point DropC has achieved revenues of $12,000 until October.
The company projects the generation of $150,000 in annual revenues in the next phase of its development, aiming to achieve revenues from a mix of hardware sales and service provision. One service sales concept is to offer streaming to event organizers who can integrate it into their services portfolio as add-on or under a pay per view formula. Another revenue proposition is to make money from the facilitation of advertisements.
The larger vision behind DropC’s corporate ambitions is to provide a tool for free speech that allows people to convey their messages in live settings, with full video and audio. As Gharios is looking to raise funds from investors in order to start commercial production of Hipernation boxes, production will be based outside of Lebanon, but the location has yet to be decided. For commercial operations, the company is looking to South Africa as its first major market to provide live streaming in collaboration with telecoms operators there. If funding is secured, the company will enter the market as soon as possible with an aim of breaking even by 2017 or 2018. Gharios is eager to live up to this challenge. “I am looking forward to being in real battles with a competitor soon,” he says.