The buzzwords are everywhere—content, analytics, mobile delivery, monetize, advertise—but connecting the dots to form a seamless operation can be a head-scratcher for some of the smaller, newer companies trying to integrate into a large, established industry such as those represented at every NAB Show.
Four years ago SPROCKIT partnered with NAB Show for the first time to help fledgling entrepreneurs snag one-on-one time with established executives to discuss technological advancements in the industry. These emerging companies then continued to meet throughout the year at SPROCKIT Sync, where discussions that began at NAB Show bear fruit.
“The experience of the startups and the experience of attendees get better and better,” said Harry Glazer, founder and chief executive officer of SPROCKIT. “Our private meeting rooms at NAB Show are totally slammed the whole time with companies meeting attendees and corporate members.”
As the SPROCKIT program returns to NAB Show, Glazer points to a broadcasting industry that has gone from each company “wanting its own silo to one that is now much more willing to work together to find solutions.”
“What’s different this year is we are trying to diversify. So we are bringing in some social media companies, maybe an advertising agency — everything is blurring now,” he said.
Integration will be a key element in the coming years in determining the “Holy Grail” on this new playing field, Glazer said.
“What they’re trying to get at is, ‘how do I target that audience for content and for ads,’” he said. “So if you look at all the big companies, traditional companies, they will tell you they are no longer ‘that kind of company.’ They all want to be a data company.”
This NAB Show marks the middle of this transition period, Glazer said. Up to 30 emerging companies will be showcased during SPROCKIT’s 2016 program, each providing unique applications and solutions focusing on advertising, analytics, mobile content production and content delivery.
One of this year’s startups is AmpLive, which uses live video to track user attention, and then studies that data to retarget and build better audiences for content creators and marketers. Eddie Vaca, AmpLive chief executive officer and co-founder, said he is attracted to the established companies wanting to get involved with media’s newest technologies.
“The community surrounding SPROCKIT helps drive the media industry forward, and the opportunity to align with some of the biggest names in both online and traditional media is something that would have taken months, even years to accomplish on our own,” Vaca said.
NAB said the partnership is beneficial to the industry and it looks forward to welcoming this year’s SPROCKIT participants to NAB Show.
“Media and entertainment is constantly evolving, and the SPROCKIT program identifies companies that are developing new solutions and applications that have the potential to be real game changers,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president, NAB Conventions and Business Operations.
Over the years a number of partnerships have formed and a couple of acquisitions have been made at NAB Show, Glazer said.
“With one company, the conversation [regarding an acquisition] started five months earlier, but then the people stopped talking,” Glazer said. “They re-engaged at the show,” and the acquisition was eventually completed.
In another instance, he said initial talks of an acquisition took place at NAB Show, and the company was eager to return as an exhibitor in SPROCKIT’s booth this year.
“Even though they’ve been bought by a corporation, the experience is so tremendous for them,” Glazer said. “They specifically wanted to be in the SPROCKIT Hub because of all the traffic NAB Show drives there.”
Another startup in this year’s lineup echoed these sentiments, saying it is eagerly anticipating opportunity and advancement that can take place at NAB Show.
“We’re really looking forward to attending NAB Show as a 2016 SPROCKIT startup,” said Jeroen Zanen, co-CEO and co-founder of Crowdynews, a social media curation platform that delivers social content to the worldwide news media.
“As the premier event for broadcasters and publishers, NAB Show is the perfect venue to kick-off our relationship with SPROCKIT and to reach our ideal customers.”
In the end, Glazer said the way to spark innovation and advance new devices and technology is to work together.
“Startups can change very quickly, but corporates are like big battleships, hard to move both culturally and from an operational standpoint,” Glazer said. “But I realized corporates need and want to change as quickly as the startups. So we better make friends while [the startups] are still in stealth mode so we can bring new products, new services.
“We hand-select our corporate members because we want it to be diversified,” he said. “So that’s the part we’re in the middle of remaking right now. I think the more diversified it gets, the richer the community.”
SPROCKIT, a partner of World Series of Startups LLC, works with a number of corporate members throughout NAB Show, including Cox Media, Hearst Television, Samsung, Tegna, and Univision. SPROCKIT supporters include Angel Capital Association, Boston Consulting Group, Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at USC, Interactive Television Alliance, Irving Group, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, National Venture Capital Association, New Amsterdam Media, New Dominion Angels, SmithGeiger and Springboard Enterprises.