VCs focus on going to IPO--while a startup's goal is to improve the product, said Kit Tsi (pictured), principal researcher and president at Hong Kong-headquartered video optimization tech provider Dao Lab.
CWHK: How long have you been in video optimization? What did you do before?
Kit Tsin: I started to develop my video optimization product in 2007, the year I founded Dao Lab by myself. But I've been in the field for a long time--I created a multi-media transcoding tool previously and sold it to a US firm.
CWHK: Why the name Dao Lab?
KT: Dao in Chinese means a unifying, ultimate law [that governs the universe]. Through this name I want people to know this is a company founded by a Chinese--and I'm not fond of names that include the word technology.
CWHK: How do you fund the company?
KT: I finance Dao Lab with money made from my previous companies, without seeking VC funds. While VCs help startups turn prototypes into products within a short time, a VC's goal is to take you to IPO--a startup's goal is to continuously enhance a product.
Having said that, I don't mean getting VC help is undesirable. But before accepting VC funds, a startup needs to understand the huge pressure it'll experience as a VC focuses on profit and loss. In addition a VC is an institutional financier which might not understand much about technology.
CWHK: While you stayed away from VCs, did you fund your initial product development by continuing to serve customers from your previous firms?
KT: I did support my previous customers--mostly mobile operators--for a short period of time [after founding Dao Lab]. But I stopped doing so in order to focus on R&D for new products.
CWHK: How does Dao Lab's video optimization product work?
KT: Contents like videos and ads have gone beyond TVs and in cinemas and are now on smartphones, tablets, and computers as well. The cost-per-bit to these devices varies, with the cost to mobile devices being the highest. Adding bandwidth doesn't help because video size is still huge--a 30-second video commercial can be as big as 17MB. Video optimization is essential.
As people now spend more time using their mobile devices, content-providers need a cost-effective way to provide video-content to mobile users. Dao Lab provides content-providers with a video optimization tool that compresses videos for cost-effective distribution to different devices while retaining video quality.
We also target outdoor broadcasting firms, publishers of digital education materials, and satellite link replacement firms that help their own customers--such as TV channels--broadcast live events to overseas markets.
CWHK: How much does it cost to use your product?
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