Fresh from recently raising $7M in Series B financing, Venice Beach-based TRACE Live Network combines elements of drones and high-quality connected cameras with a live-action content platform and global streaming capabilities.
Already putting their total investment of $10M to work, TRACE has acquired one of the leading and longest running manufacturers of multi-rotor helicopters in the world, Draganfly, and made a significant investment in Antix, a state-of-the-art action cam auto-editing platform.
Cofounder and COO Judy Garvey sits down with LA TechWatch and lets us in on more of their plans for TRACE.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise? Was it seed, Series A, B, etc?
Series B raise of $7M taking total raised to date to just over $10M. The round was led by Salman Partners and Varo Capital.
Tell us about your product or service.
TRACE Live Network is a live-action content platform aggregating and distributing streamed footage from globally activated TRACEr1 devices. The TRACEr1 is a visually intelligent camera that autonomously operates a selection of tracking devices – including a quadcopter FLYr drone – and live-streams captured user footage directly to the Internet and through several live-streaming platforms.
What inspired you to start the company?
We started by asking the question, “What if there was a quadcopter that could follow you, solely using visual intelligence?” From there we evolved the question from autonomous tracking to building an entire ecosystem that supported our technology. Trace has evolved from the idea that every person’s activities are relevant, and we want to make it easier for people to share those relevant-to-them activities with others.
How is it different?
TRACE is creating an entirely new way for people to create incredible and unique video content and share that content with the widest possible network – live. Of the millions of hours of footage captured by action cameras on any given day, only a minute percentage will ever be watched again by anyone but the person holding the camera.
The TRACEr devices have been developed to autonomously track their users, record their action and live-streaming that across several live-streaming portals to be enjoyed by the widest possible audience.
With TRACE, we are clearly focused on enabling people to take part in their greatest moments without a thought of how they might capture those moments and share them.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The addressable market is significant. Just look at the incredible growth of GoPro. TRACE isn’t looking to compete for market share with the action cam companies but to disrupt the space further and give people a new way to seamlessly capture and share their experiences.
What’s your business model?
TRACE will launch a line of consumer-facing auto follow devices which will each be controlled by the TRACEr visually intelligent SmartCamera.
The TRACE Live Network will also be an aggregation portal for live-streamed content from all globally activated TRACEr devices as well as from other leading content aggregators such as partners, HellaClips.com and SpeedSociety.com.
What was the funding process like?
We’ve been fortunate that each financing we’ve done up to now has been oversubscribed.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Raising money on this project has been relatively straightforward which has been a great thing. Once we were able to demonstrate the auto-follow capability of our TRACEr enabled quadcopter, the FLYr, investors could pretty quickly see the potential in what we’re doing.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The huge growth in the use of action cameras, the immense popularity of video content sharing sites like YouTube and the recent launch of high profile live-streaming platforms like Meerkat and Periscope have certainly helped demonstrate to investors that we’re in a tech sweet spot.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are planning to launch our TRACEr1 visually intelligent SmartCamera and FOLLOWr1 auto-tracking tripod gimbal this coming fall (2015) as well as launch the TRACE Live Network live-streamed content network.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Any startup looking for funding really needs to put themselves out there and tell their story. There’s a lot of noise out there and being heard can be tough. Refine your company story. Make sure you’re able to clearly present the business’s current position and future aspirations in way that is compelling. If you aren’t able to find what is compelling, maybe it’s time to pivot what you’re doing.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Not only are we carrying out various integrations within these companies and TRACE, we’re also helping both to scale their existing operations as we see major potential for growth.