It won't sound strange to anybody in this business that promoting new ideas in industries as well established as cable can be challenging.
As Chris Dixon -- an investor in companies such as Kickstarter, Stripe and Pinterest -- wrote, "the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a toy." My takeaway, what makes Dixon's article stand out from all the others that discuss startups and new products, is this: The concept that every product, when it's launched, undershoots user needs which makes most people then disregard the opportunity to see an unexpected and rapid growth, mainly pushed by demand.
An example? Take the telecommunications industry and the Skype revolution.
Back to promoting new ideas: Whether initiatives come from internal or external sources, there's an enormous challenge in trying to positively effect a business unit with a product's first version, and early results are not of great help when it comes to convincing senior managers to keep investing in an application. Thus, many innovation efforts fall into a big black hole.
Talking to the Board
During the program, Pablo Hesse had access to top-level cable technologists and, ultimately, C-level executives.
But for our business to succeed, we need to innovate. Customer demands are unstoppable. We cannot tame juggernauts and if we don't innovate, our competitors -- existing or brand new ones that sprang up specifically from our inertia -- will change the way we do business today and, ultimately, meet these new demands.
Recognizing this, a year ago I submitted our application to UpRamp's Fiterator program, an initiative powered by CableLabs with the goal to connect outside innovation with its internal innovation roadmap and members' technology projects. We had identified cable as a target segment and I was confident Teltoo provided a valuable and disruptive solution that would help cable operators. But I was cautious, realizing how hard that path would be, especially for a team in Madrid.
We needed help, and this program could be our best way to enter a partnership where we learned from a customer and improved our offering, while they benefited from early access to our technology and its disruptive benefits.
Inside the UpRamp
Amazingly, in the face of many competitors, Teltoo was one of the winners selected to advance through the UpRamp Fiterator program for late-stage startups.
First we worked together on our product's specific value proposition and how to focus it on cable. What were the challenges? What problems do operators face daily?
Throughout the program, we connected with people with solid cable experience, with decision-makers who guided us into a deeper understanding of cable networks and helped us to scope the impact of our product onto their current and future needs. After this, we presented our company to a board meeting composed of C-level executives from almost all CableLabs' cable members. Our purpose was to be concise and explain why they should care about our "toy," and how we expected to create a significant impact in a $500 billion industry.
During the last component of this arduous but invaluable experience, we reconnected with the same decision makers from Day One and demonstrated the evidence we had collected and convinced them the time was right to begin a project. By then, our product was no toy; it had evolved into a robust technology that could solve a specific problem and then grow to address other inefficiencies. It was time to innovate. One large multinational service provider agreed, a partnership began and most of our business relocated from Spain to Colorado.
Programs like this are pioneering and help change the dynamics of innovation in industries where such a concept looks difficult to implement.
There continue to be challenges, of course. There also are encouraging dynamics. To name some, the increasing number and expanding role of steering committees' innovation departments, the reduction of rigid internal procedures or purchase fast tracks for small teams. These are all some of the initiatives I have recently seen and they make me believe cable is on the way to help small toys become breakthrough technologies, helping large industries embrace innovation and getting immense benefits from it.
Our company, happily, got the support needed, and it is committed to delivering the vision we believe in.
— Pablo Hesse is cofounder and CEO of Teltoo, developer of a software-only decentralized video delivery technology that helps live-streaming providers to improve quality and optimize delivery costs. Connect with Pablo on LinkedIn or follow Pablo on Twitter. You can also track Teltoo on Twitter or
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