Befitting a city that buzzes with energy 24 hours a day, You.i TV’s suite at the sprawling Encore casino resort complex in Las Vegas was a whirlwind of activity this week.
© Mark Holleron
Successful entrepreneurs such as You.i TV's Jason Flick know it takes a strong, well-executed business plan to make the leap from startup to sustainable enterprise.
An Ottawa company that has taken the user interface software market by storm, You.i was showing off its technology at the massive Consumer Electronics Show. Yet even at an event that attracts more than 4,000 exhibitors from around the world, its groundbreaking platform that lets users easily interact with devices from iPhones to XBox consoles stood out from the crowd.
“When (potential clients) are coming in this year, they know a lot more about us,” CEO Jason Flick told OBJ during a break from his hectic schedule earlier this week. “They’ve touched our apps in market. It’s much different.”
Mr. Flick’s packed agenda was proof of that. He was expecting his team to take part in as many as 100 meetings this week – more than double last year’s total of 45.
“The coolest part is they’re a lot of some of the biggest companies on the planet,” he said. “They’re all very large companies, multinationals. That’s our scale.”
It's just another indication of how far You.i has come in the past 12 months.
A busy 2015 saw the company land a multimillion-dollar round of venture financing while adding about 100 people to its workforce. Customers from around the world now use its platform on applications that include Sony Crackle’s Roku app and the TreehouseGO app, which hit No. 1 on Apple’s Kids App Store two weeks after its launch.
Earlier this week, You.i announced one of its biggest deals yet – a partnership with Paris-based Valtech, one of the world’s leading digital technology marketing firms.
Under the agreement, Valtech will develop multiscreen video apps with You.i technology. Those apps will then be integrated into Valtech’s Ready4Air platform, which helps marry back-end media infrastructure – such as servers that store video content – with user interface software such as You.i Engine.
“They have dozens of developers on-site already for some major media companies,” said Mr. Flick, adding the two companies have been testing the integration model for about a year. “They have a great brand in the market and they really love to do premium apps. They were a great fit.”
Roland Kero, Valtech’s senior director of business development in the United States, said the company had been looking for a partner to help boost its presence in North America for years.
Other firms had promised technology that would make video interfaces run more smoothly but never fully delivered, he said. When Valtech brass realized the Ottawa company had actually pulled it off, they knew they’d found their match.
“It was extremely impressive,” Mr. Kero said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. We decided quite early on, this is a company we want to work with. These guys had done something nobody else has been able to do before.”
With 2,000 employees worldwide and offices in nearly a dozen countries, Valtech is in a perfect position to help expose You.i’s product to potential customers from around the globe, he said.
“We believe that the You.i technology is changing the game,” he explained. “The challenge for You.i at this point is to scale globally. They need a partner that is global to take the product and deliver it to clients worldwide. We have that reach.”
Mr. Flick said this week’s announcement is just the first of many such partnerships in You.i’s pipeline. He expects the firm to officially have about a dozen such arrangements in place by the end of 2016, deals that will not only add to its customer base but enhance its credibility in the market as well.
“These are all very large companies that don’t take partnering lightly,” he said.