A Q&A with Nabo TV founder and CEO Matt Hicks. The Norman, Oklahoma-based startup, which is building a media hub user interface for consumers, launched to the public last week with a Kickstarter campaign that enables early access to the service. The company has been bootstrapped to this point.
SUB: Please describe Nabo TV and your primary innovation.
Hicks: Nabo TV is a media hub that provides a new way to watch TV and movies. With most media hubs, you open a content provider, like Netflix for example, and then browse the TV and movies they provide. The problem with this is that if you have multiple sources, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, local content, etc., you have to go through those sources one-by-one until you find what you’re looking for. Our focus is simplifying this process to allow you to find what you’re looking for and then figure out where you want to watch it.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Hicks: Our target audience is anyone that is interested in a better way to watch media on their television.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Nabo TV from the competition?
Hicks: Though there are many media hubs out there from large companies like Google, Apple, Samsung, and others, we don’t really consider them competition, but rather a previous generation of software. Our focus is on innovating the television experience where there has been extremely little progress over the past ten years.
SUB: You just launched with a Kickstarter campaign and the goal of raising $60,000. Why did you choose to go the crowdfunding route rather than a more traditional equity funding raise?
Hicks: Our primary goal at this point is raising the visibility of our endeavor. Funding is important to us, but if we don’t have an audience that is excited about what we are trying to accomplish, then this project will not be successful. In an area where the market share is sought by Google, Amazon, Apple, etc., getting the word out is more important than finding funding.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding previously?
Hicks: This is my first project I’ve ever used crowdfunding. I’m first-and-foremost a software developer, so this endeavor has been a big leap outside of my comfort zone, but so far we’ve had some really great response and a lot of excitement from our backers asking how they can help.
I don’t believe at this point that the issue is whether or not this is a good idea, but whether or not we can be found amidst the sea of other options.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Nabo TV? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Hicks: The idea of a better media hub has been one that I have been considering for years as I’ve used media hub after media hub looking for a better experience, only to find that most of them are extremely similar both in presentation and functionality. As a software developer, I see what is possible and for years expected that someone would finally come around to doing more. I finally got tired of waiting. A lot of our ideas come from watching shows, listening to music, etc., and realizing ways it could be done better.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Hicks: I pitched some of my ideas to friends and family asking if these features would make their TV watching experience better. I received an overwhelmingly positive response that led me to pursue building out this idea further. I pitched the idea to a developer friend of mine, Brian Curtsinger, about writing a media center and he was interested in helping make this a reality, so we started the process of building a project spec and prototyping out the basic functionality.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Hicks: Brian actually came up with the name. Nabo means ‘hub’ in Esperanto.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Hicks: Visibility is the number one issue we’ve faced. I haven’t spoken to a single person that doesn’t think this is a great idea; there are just so many ideas and projects looking for funding, it’s simply hard to get noticed.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Hicks: We will be selling the Nabo TV software once it is released. We are hopeful that by mid-year 2015 we will have the first release launched and will be able to continue pushing forward with new features and plugins.
SUB: What are your goals for Nabo TV over the next year or so?
Hicks: Our primary goal is innovating the TV watching experience. It is amazing that so little has been done on this front, and we have a list of hundreds of ideas that we’re working on to make a reality. Our focus is getting a solid core system built that we can expand over time and take advantage of the full potential of the TV viewing experience.