It seems as though in the age of modern technology, there is an endless deluge of content being thrown at audiences. Rabt is seeking to end that by bringing use of algorithmic technology that analyzes users’ behaviors, their likes and dislikes, and then recommends relevant content that keeps users even more engaged. After all isn’t technology supposed to make our lives easier?
Today, we sit down with Yiannis Broustas, CEO and Founder of Rabt to discuss the funding and the future plans for Rabt as it uses big data to personalize and disrupt the way we consume content.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise? Was it seed, Series A, B, etc?
Rabt raised $325,000 in seed funding from investors in the United States, Europe, and China. The round was led by Abhi Anuket, founder of the strategic investment company Magnivia Ventures and his partner Jan Vorstermans of Qunova, a Europe-based, early-stage venture capital firm. Another notable participant in this round was Jerry Wang of LeTV.
Tell us about your product or service.
Rabt is a content personalization startup that tailors the content experiences of digital consumers based on their preferences and viewing behavior. The company’s rabtPRO platform and algorithmic technology enables media companies, publishing companies and brand marketers get higher user engagement, retention and activation metrics by personalizing their content for each individual user across all platforms.
What inspired you to start the company?
I got the idea of creating Rabt back in 2012 when I was building a different startup in New York together with my cofounder. We saw that people are adapting mobile devices quickly and will be spending increasingly more time on streaming content on their smartphones and tablets. By looking at the usage habits we recognized some clear content winners like music, games, social media, and texting. We also realized that video wasn’t as developed given the promise of high definition quality, portability and personalization that mobile devices offer. When looking for the reasons behind it we came up with three: 1. Expensive data plans didn’t allow streaming on-the-go, 2. Data connections were not always as fast for streaming heavy content, 3. People couldn’t find easy accessible appealing content and they ended up spending 80% of their time searching and only 20% of the time watching. The first 2 reasons were clearly infrastructure-driven and would for sure be improved in the years to follow so the 3rd became our laser focus. How to bring more appealing and 100% personalized content experiences to digital consumers while at home or on-the-go. Once we had our business idea, we worked on the product. That meant coming up with the set of algorithmic engine that monitors, analyzes and personalizes the content experiences of digital consumers. From there our first B2C app for mobile content personalization Rabt was born. We subsequently developed B2B content personalization tools for third party content providers.
How is it different?
Rabt is revolutionizing the way that digital users consume content from their over-the-top devices, like smartphones and tablets. Our proprietary algorithms personalize the digital experience of consumers based on their behaviors and preferences. As a result, consumers only get the content they want and media publishers and brands get higher engagement rates and higher click-through rates.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Over-The-Top is the future of content consumption: OTT market will grow from $25billion to $54billion by 2019 with North America and Asia-Pacific having the largest share in revenue contribution.
Mobile/PC have overtaken traditional media: Avg. media consumption per day in the US: 7 hours (mobile 1.8 hours, PC 1.6 hours, TV 1.5 hours).
Content Recommendation is exploding: Gravity acquired by AOL for $100M (Feb 2014), Outbrain is in the process of IPOing at an estimated $1 Billion valuation. Taboola just raised $117m (Feb 2015).
Large and growing market in video: 1.4 billion online videos are going to be watched in the U.S. only today. 51% of the global mobile traffic is done for mobile video. It will be 66% by 2015.
What’s your business model?
Licensing of the proprietary algorithmic technology to other video stakeholders or to other forms of content (articles, shopping, etc.) for use on their own platforms through our API. In other words, we do a revenue share of the extra revenue per view that we generate.
What was the funding process like?
This round was led by Abhi Anuket, founder of the strategic investment company Magnivia Ventures and his partner Jan Vorstermans of Qunova, a Europe-based, early-stage venture capitalist. Both saw the tremendous market potential that RABT offers. Early investors include an executive from LeTV. He saw the product in action and was excited about how Rabt increased the engagement rates on the LeTV site.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
It’s always tough to convince investors in a late Seed funding round: the valuation is not as low as when you start and at the same time the traction is not the no-brainer that would lead you in a Series A. So, finding that sweet spot of people who get excited with your promise and are willing to take the risk was by far the biggest challenge.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The team, the product and the early test results with large media companies. We are active in an industry that is booming and we have proven that our technology is stronger than incumbent players and/or internally developed solutions.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the next 6 months, Rabt will: 1. Fine-tune the B2B tools that will enable the monetization of the recommendation system and 2. Focus on business development with at least 10 clients globally.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Look for investors who share your vision and know the industry you are in especially for a startup in the media industry like Rabt. It’s also important to be realistic with the amount you are looking for and the valuation that you are trying to close. New York investors are probably more pragmatic than the ones in the West Coast, hence it make take longer to close the round but once it happens they will give you their full attention and support.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Within 5 years Rabt envisions to become the most dynamic content personalization system for third party content owners in video, articles and beyond.
What’s your favorite NY bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill with a beer, a burger and the amazing midtown views at sunset.