A Q&A with QVIVO co-founder and CEO Liam McCallum. The Hong Kong–based company was founded in 2010 and closed a $1 million Series A funding round in late September led by SingTel Group.
SUB: Please describe QVIVO, and the value proposition you offer to consumers.
McCallum: QVIVO is the simplest way to build your personal media cloud, in sync and ready to stream at home or on the go to any device. With a free QVIVO Home account, the QVIVO apps for PC and Mac will automatically import your TV, movie and music files into beautiful libraries complete with artwork, trailers, subtitles and more that you can stream to any other computer on your home network with the QVIVO app installed.
As a value proposition, free is pretty hard to beat—but our QVIVO Web and Unlimited accounts come close. For just $1.99 per month you can sync your entire media library to the QVIVO Cloud to stream on the web through QVIVO.com. And for just $2.99 per month you can stream to any device including iPhone, iPad and Android. Suddenly that 16GB iPhone in your pocket has access to thousands of your movies, TV shows and music.
If you’d like to compare other popular cloud services you’ll quickly find QVIVO is the only cloud service suited for large media files. Many services have tiny file size and storage limits so that 16GB Blu-ray movie is a no go—let alone a thousand of them.
SUB: Who are your target users?
McCallum: Anyone with large media collections who crave a different media viewing experience than just browsing a list of folders. QVIVO is the simplest way to automatically organize your media collection stored on all of your family’s devices into a single gorgeous library that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
McCallum: We’ve found ourselves in quite a unique niche within the industry, with no one else offering dedicated media storage with a strong focus on video. Netflix, VUDU and the like are cloud video competitors for users without their own media collections and the general cloud storage services from Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive are so ridiculously unsuited for large video files that we’re quite pleased with where we’ve positioned ourselves.
SUB: What differentiates QVIVO from the competition?
McCallum: Say you have a 2TB NAS drive at home storing your media collection—what are your options? The largest Dropbox plan starts at nearly 50 bucks and tops out at 500GB and Google Drive will cost $99 per month to store your 2TB drive worth of media. Even then you’re still browsing a long list of filenames instead of beautiful library full of cover art, trailers and synopses.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
McCallum: At the end of 2010 we started QVIVO. If you use the apps you’ll notice that good design at the core of everything we do, so bringing on the talented agency Future Büro in Sydney Australia was one of the first steps we took. From there we started to build our engineering team based in Hong Kong to support Future Büro’s design vision.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for QVIVO? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
McCallum: QVIVO has gone through two phases of product direction. The first phase was very ‘home’ focused and was borne out of our frustration in organizing and streaming our increasingly large media collections around the home. Trying to remember what movies we owned was hit or miss and streaming any formats to another room was a nightmare. The most reliable way to watch an MKV video file in another room was still the trusty USB stick.
Our second phase was our cloud focus. Tablet sales were going through the roof and a fundamental shift was happening in the way individuals were enjoying media. Fighting for the TV remote was quickly becoming obsolete with each family member enjoying what they want, when they want on their own device. Cloud streaming was finally becoming fast enough for HD video within the home and on the go. So we set out to painlessly sync that gorgeous QVIVO media library that users were enjoying around the home to the QVIVO Cloud so they could pause a show at home, resume it on their iPhone on the way to work and resume it in their browser when they got there.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
McCallum: The QVIVO name—pronounced ‘cue vivo’—was inspired by the word ‘vivo’ in many European languages to represent, life, music and entertainment. The word ‘cue’ is used in many daily media interactions but the letter Q also provides a visually pleasing balance to the brand and logo.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
McCallum: Shifting focus half way through from the home to the cloud was a challenge. Migrating resources from a desktop experience to a web one was tough but we hired amazing talent and made it through. Having known what we know now we would have moved aggressively into the cloud space from the start—but that’s with the benefit of hindsight.
SUB: You just raised $1 million in Series A funding. What are your plans for the funds?
McCallum: Our user base is growing rapidly so we decided to raise funds to support that growth. It’s a statement to our users that their media is secure and available anytime, anywhere.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
McCallum: We didn’t time this funding round on any external factors, economic or industry cycles. It was purely based the company’s need to support its user growth.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
McCallum: Unlike most ‘freemium’ services, our free QVIVO home accounts don’t cost us anything as they are streaming around the home on their own network. For QVIVO Web and Unlimited accounts we offer all new users a 14 day free trial to enjoy streaming from the cloud to their mobile devices and most of them decide to upgrade at the end. Hey, for only two bucks why not?
SUB: What are your goals for QVIVO over the next year or so?
McCallum: Apps! There are plenty of devices with screens—or connected to one—so our plans to offer free QVIVO apps on all of them.
QVIVO – www.qvivo.com