LISNR is a comprehensive mobile engagement platform that allows consumers to interact with media and the live environment everywhere. But get this: LISNR’s ultrasonic and smart app engine technology allows consumers to use their smartphones to interact with audio everywhere – but the tones are silent to the human ear and are only recognized by LISNR-powered apps.
Cool, eh? Talk about content creators and advertisers targeting an audience…what to speak of getting inside information!
The technology is patent-pending, and the company is part of the R/GA Connected Device’s latest class of startups, powered by Techstars. Founder and CEO Rodney Williams gives us the story – for your ears only…
Tell us about the decision to apply for R/GA Accelerator and how has the experience been thus far?
Even though we have already raised over $4M in venture capital, this is LISNR’s first time in a startup accelerator. We saw a great opportunity to partner with R/GA and Techstars, as their vertical aligned with our growing interest in the connected devices market. We are primarily interested in their guidance on how to properly scale a technology business that has practical use cases across a number of different verticals, without jeopardizing the current business plan.
The experience thus far as been nothing short of transformative. It is not surprising that R/GA and Techstars are at the top of their respective fields. Everyone involved in the program, from directors to mentors, has given us the tools to do a 360-degree examination of our business, which will lay the proper groundwork to service current and future clients and markets better.
Tell us about your product.
LISNR is a high frequency, inaudible smart tone technology; a new communication protocol that sends data over audio. It is a digital sound file that turns any speaker or piece of media into a beacon, working seamlessly across physical and digital spaces more effectively than all current solutions in the marketplace, most notably Bluetooth and traditional ACR. Our present business model targets content creators and brands, providing them a distribution platform for mobile that delivers unparalleled second screen experiences and proximity based messaging via the smart tones’ identification and triggering capabilities. LISNR aims to eventually be a technology standard for user authentication, peer-to-peer communication, and secure data transfer for connected devices in the evolving internet of things.
How is it different?
Our current business model enables content creators and brands to reach their target consumers more effectively and easier than ever before. Bluetooth, NFC, ACR, and watermarking all have challenges for implementers and consumers, none providing a single solution that works seamlessly across multiple verticals, environments, and user interactions. Marketers and mobile innovators are forced to employ multiple technologies to increase distribution and engagement, which becomes costly and complicated. This is eventually expressed on the user level as a confusing and disjointed mobile and brand experience. As triggered experiences and messaging become more necessary for content and experience creators, marketers will look towards technologies that are easier, better, smarter, and thus, more effective.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our product is geared towards marketers and mobile innovators, primarily in the live events, sports, broadcast, music, and retail space. These verticals are looking to solve consumer pain points, increase brand equity, surprise, delight, or inform users, and collect valuable 360 degree engagement data via mobile.
We have scaled through multiple channels, working with content creators, agencies, brands, and advertisers directly to deliver their second screen needs. Since 2013, we have had a number of successful pilots with household names in the music, live event, sports, and retail spaces, and want to continue to scale in those areas. Broadcast and media will also be a focus moving into 2015.
What is the business model?
Prior to Q4 2014, we priced our technology competitively against Bluetooth and ACR, charging per campaign or by number of tones. We are currently working on a model to charge per user activated via our technology, with a year license to utilize the technology.
Tell us about some cool implementations of your offering.
We done a number of pilots servicing a variety of different mobile marketing needs, all centered on the mandate to provide a better interaction experience for consumers through the mobile channel. We have activated synchronized light shows at concerts, rewarded music fans with behind-the-scenes content, delivered at-shelf product information, and solved pain points in sports stadiums. Some of our more notable pilots have been with the Dallas Cowboys, Swedish House Mafia, Roc Nation, AT&T, and Budweiser.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We have a few key goals, many of them tied to the R/GA Accelerator. We are working on strengthening and expanding the capabilities of the technology, investing more of our sales efforts in sports, and signing a client or partnership that highlights the physical and digital connection of our smart tones.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
New York rivals Silicon Valley for a reason. There are amazing, prolific, smart, and strategic venture funds here that have driven the current global technology landscape. We completed our Series A funding in May 2014, and are looking towards meeting funds interested in the next stage.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
There is such a strong, supportive startup community in New York. LISNR is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, and we have found the scene in New York as comparably inviting as the Midwest. We have grown a lot of sales and business operations in NYC and look forward to upholding a presence in this community.
What are you looking forward to doing most in NYC this upcoming winter?
We are looking forward to expanding and strengthening our client and business network in NYC. On a personal note, we are excited to experience the New York holiday season, and get involved in the city’s cultural offerings.