Seth Green-Backed Shodogg Learns New Tricks After Pivoting
It is not easy to drop the idea that brought a startup to market and then chart a new course.
When I first came across Shodogg at International CES 2012, the company had unveiled its software for consumers to share videos between TVs and other connected devices. The startup hit the annual trade show along with one of its high-profile investors, actor and producer Seth Green, whose work includes voicing Chris Griffin on Family Guy and co-creating Robot Chicken.
That trip to CES, though, was the beginning of a sea change for Shodogg. Big players in consumer electronics were coming out with competing technology, such as Apple’s AirPlay, to share video across devices. At the same time, businesses were expressing interest in Shodogg’s technology for their needs.
Herb Mitschele, the CEO and co-founder of Shodogg, says that led to a new strategy for the company. “We went from a product-driven business to realizing the value we were creating was behind the scenes,” he says.
When Quadriga, a British provider of connectivity and entertainment technology for hotels, reached out to Shodogg for help at CES, the startup began thinking about opening up its platform to enterprises. Mitschele says Quadriga wanted a way to let visitors staying at hotels to put the media they were already streaming on their mobile devices onto bigger screens. Shodogg’s platform became the means to securely move those videos to TVs in the rooms.
In a moment of pause, Mitschele says, Shodogg became open to new options. “We were trying to compete against other big [consumer] technologies,” he says. “You’d have to have a lot of money to show your point of difference.” He says various cloud services, at the time, were starting to rise as a way to stream content to connected devices. Yet no one, he says, was trying to tie all those services together. “When you’re heads-down trying to build a business,” Mitschele says, “you can potentially miss the bigger opportunity.”
Shodogg evolved into a way to access content from such cloud-based sources as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and SugarSync, and Brightcove. By sharing a special code or unique URL, devices connect and can point to files most anywhere on the Web. “We don’t touch the content,” Mitschele says. “It’s just a centralized set of commands to redirect the receiving device to get content from the original source.”
The shift meant sharing content, not just videos, from anywhere across multiple screens. Companies might also build software, Mitschele says, on top of the platform to let their salespeople share PDF files and slides from their mobile devices with their customers’ monitors. “That could be on 40 screens or 100 screens if wanted,” he says.
After moving in 2013 from Valhalla, NY, to Manhattan, Shodogg has been making the rounds in the city to show what the team has been up to. Having previously raised $3 million from backers that include RSL Venture Partners, Mitschele says, Shodogg plans to seek more funding within the next six months.
It was at this month’s New York Tech Meetup that Shodogg talked publicly for the first time about its current focus and made its software development kit (SDK) available for others to dabble with. Shodogg is also working on ways for its platform to connect more devices, Mitschele says, such as game consoles and set-top boxes as receivers for content.
Many preexisting technologies for sharing content run on peer-to-peer networks, Mitschele says, but that requires installing software on one or both ends of the connection. Shodogg’s platform, he says, is more of a universal proxy or an agnostic middleman.
The startup has also created an app, Screen-Direct, to demonstrate how its technology can be used. The observer’s screen can be directed, for instance, to an online video, and the person running the session can pause, play, or change the volume. “It’s like taking a media player and splitting it,” Mitschele says. “The media goes to the second screen but the controls and navigation remain in your handheld [device].”