Formed in 2015, Snapscreen is a self-styled Shazam for betting but using visuals instead of sound that allow the user to instantly recognise what is happening on a screen and offer up the relevant bet. The company has already received some exposure at various global gaming events including at the recent betting on Football show in London. Below GamCrowd talks to the company’s head of marketing, Nick Stein, about how the challenges the company has overcome to this point and his hopes for the future.
GamCrowd: In brief, what is the idea behind Snapscreen?
Nick Stein: Having watched how Shazam was using sound to interact with TV ad spots during the Super Bowl, Thomas felt there had to be a quicker and more universal way to interact. In a bar or any group viewing situation, the surroundings are often too loud for audio to be recognized. Therefore, a visual recognition makes much more sense.
GamCrowd: What is the technology that lies behind the product?
Nick Stein: In short, it is image recognition of live TV. This is done by fingerprints that are built from data points ‘fingerprints’ that allow our technology to recognise and confirm the show a user is currently watching. The real standout feature is, while it is available on iOS and Android, it is also available on HTML5 so campaigns can be instantly launched.
GamCrowd: What were the tech hurdles you had to overcome?
Nick Stein: Getting the image recognition to work, of course; building the real-time system that ingests all the incoming TV data; building the auto scaling backend to support millions of users; getting the user experience to work as smooth as scanning a barcode or a QR code. In general, it was quite a challenge to get Snapscreen working - but it is all done now.
GamCrowd: How replicable is the product by potential competitors?
Nick Stein: All technology is replicable but it is about the time and effort it would take to catch up and where we would be at that point. We are not a company that is built on standing still with our technology. However, to fully answer the question, it would take around 2 years to get to where we are now.
GamCrowd: What is your experience of the gambling industry and that of your team?
Nick Stein: Our CEO was the chief technology officer at Jumio which, through its image recognition technology, was heavily used in ID recognition for sports-betting platforms. I have previously consulted for a large betting-platform provider. We also have advisors in the sports betting industry to help steer the product to fit the market.
GamCrowd: What level of funding have you received to date?
Nick Stein: Initially the company was bootstrapped by the chief executive and founder, followed by an Austrian government grant at the end of April last year.
GamCrowd: Have you got any customers yet/are you close to signing customers? What markets are you aiming at?
Nick Stein: We are in the closing stage with a number of customers. We are operating in a number of verticals; sports betting, telecoms, and also companies that want to connect live TV events to an information offering.
GamCrowd: Were you tempted to go to market as a B2C operator?
Nick Stein: We started out as a more B2C-based company, however, there were a few roadblocks to that type of expansion. Expanding at a fast enough pace was going to be detrimental to the product. Controlling the growth of the channels delivered would be difficult as we would need a full data centre etc. After exploring this route, we decided to remain focused on the B2B offering and the feedback and interested has shown this to be the right choice.