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Momentum Technologies Group - Live Video Streaming Over Mobile

Today we showcase an exciting and successful venture co-founded by Adele Whish-Wilson in 2002, Momentum Technologies Group - Live Video Streaming Over Mobile.

In a recent email-based interview with Adele, she gave insights into her venture and how she is progressing with it. This is what she has to say:

• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
My background was initially in psychology and communications, which led to roles in the private, community and government sectors that covered everything from supporting health campaigns to assisting in developing state government department e-business strategies. My interest in finding ways to improve ‘how things are done’ led me to take a role as a business analyst, then onto starting Momentum in 2002 – where I continue to be focused on assisting our clients find a better way to get things done.
My interests are long-distance running (completed my first marathon last year, and did Oxfam’s 100km Trailwalker this year), yoga and pilates. I’m positively evangelical about the benefits of balancing life in front of a keyboard with keeping active, and these hobbies, (along with my other interests of food and wine), are the tools that keep me sane!

• Please tell us about your venture/company?
Melbourne-based and Australian-owned, Momentum is a pioneer in live video streaming over mobile data networks. Built on a great idea and five years of development, adaptation and pure sweat – we’re poised for dramatic growth in the coming 12 months. At an exciting time, our team of 15 technology, and support, professionals collaborate to own, innovate and make things happen in the field of interactive visual communications. Eying mobile applications in the consumer market, and with a firm foothold in several enterprise markets – including health, education, emergency services and industrial – we are market leaders in what we offer, and we’re very proud of that.

• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
The best companies are formed out of need. This venture started out as a twinkle in our eyes – that is myself, Guy Franklin and Andrew Rowsell in 2001 (before being officially launched in 2002 – terrible timing in the ‘IT Start-Up’ market!). Bringing together our respective skills in business management, multimedia and video programming, the trio wanted to make the world a better place through technology, particularly live video streaming. I was working in government agencies writing functional requirements for systems that never got built – I was so keen to actually see a real product developed and in the hands of users. As a team, we really believed that we could change the way Australians (and the rest of the world) worked, with the help of real visual communication. Our thinking has evolved and we’re still passionate about making a positive change to the state of play in the technology sector.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
We aim to be the best at connecting people through better mobile video technology. From beaming interactive virtual art exhibitions hosted by the curator in Sunshine Coast to Year Six students in Bundaberg to being part of the security equipment used by police at APEC, we enable people to cut through distances to communicate meaningfully, broaden horizons and harvest opportunities. This flows into our company ethos where talent is recognised, achievement rewarded and work-life balance cherished (although I’m really not sure we’ve got that one sorted yet – but we’ll keep trying). We’re a small team of flexible and committed individuals who have come together from diverse professional backgrounds, cultures and countries with a common aim – better living through technology. And I do really love my team – they are a fantastically talented bunch of people who are (mostly!) a joy to work with.

• What services it provide for consumers or customers?
Momentum created m-View – a fully mobile wireless broadcasting solution with the best video performance to the widest reach of users. People can connect and interact using live video from mobile to mobile, or mobile to PC, around the globe. We have won several awards for the usability, usefulness and uniqueness of m-View. Our new social video networking product powered by m-View, LocalJoeLive.com, will be ready for the market later this year. It has gained strong interest from several global telcos as a platform upon which to build mobile applications and a key driver of future revenue growth.

• What type of customers you are targeting?
We target enterprise clients across the government, health, industrial and mining, utility and resources sectors. Anywhere that there are mobile workers and a finite number of specialists that support them – be they technicians, doctors, engineers or firefighters. We are planning to launch a self-service business-level product aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises. And our consumer social networking service, Local Joe Live, should be ready for beta by the end of this year (which we’re very excited about).

• How many people are using your services?
We have about 100 installations of our enterprise solution. For our self-service business-level product, we anticipate a high volume of sales. And with Local Joe Live, we’re aiming for millions of users.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
For our enterprise solutions, we rely primarily on referrals and direct marketing to spread the word. We also try to generate as much awareness through PR efforts as possible. For the new products, we thinking about viral campaigns and social media as channels to get the word out.

• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model that is being tried?
We combine annual software licenses, monthly support & maintenance, one-off costs for some camera systems and consultancy fees. We are introducing a new, simplified, monthly pricing model for our new hosted service which is coming soon, which we believe will benefit many of our smaller clients.

• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
As far as platforms go, we use Microsoft .NET quite heavily throughout our PC-based systems. Our mobile products use standard C++ as much as possible, although we sometimes blend this with Symbian's particular C++ dialect for Series 60 phones.

We use a variety of compression systems like MPEG4 and H.264, as well as some open-source alternatives like Theora. We also use (as far as possible) IETF standard streaming protocols like RTSP & RTP for delivering our streaming media to viewers.

• Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
Our main use of open-source has been with media compression libraries like Theora, Speex, Ogg and FFmpeg, which was vital to our product's early development, as the big-name codecs were out of our financial reach in the early days, and didn’t do what we needed them to do anyway.

• What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
Our broadcaster & viewer applications run on Windows (XP and Vista), Windows Mobile and Series 60 3rd Edition (Symbian). Our server runs on Windows Server 2003 and uses MS SQL Server for data storage. Our road map shows us porting to a number of additional mobile platforms this year.

• What's your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
Well, starting in late 2001 was certainly tough – there was very little funding available for start-up ventures, and a lot of cynicism about ‘IT start-ups’ overall (thanks a lot Sausage Software). The benefit of this was that it forced us to respond quickly to our client’s demands, to drive revenue to survive, which in turn made m-View a better product. Maybe if we’d had millions of dollars of funding we wouldn’t have had to try so hard with our clients, and m-View may not have been the great system it now is...who knows!

• What's your thought on the start-up culture and innovation coming out of Australia?

I think we have plenty of room to improve. I’m currently watching the Olympics and I can’t help but think to myself ‘if only there was 5% of the focus and funding on innovation in Australia as there is in sport...’ Start-ups are the big employers and exporters of tomorrow, so it makes sense to support them, and we need to do better to create a culture where ‘having a go’ is encouraged and supported – whether it results in success or failure.

• How do you see the mobile battle between iPhone, Google (Android) & rest of the players?
There’s a lot of hype at the moment, which we’re trying not to get caught up in. As soon as the iPhone came out in Australia, we were asked at every meeting ‘Does m-View work on the iPhone’? We did consider altering our development roadmap to respond to this, but we took a deep breath and considered “Is this what our market really wants right now?”.
Things we look at is what are the market share of the device, what segments of the market are using that device, what sort of developer support that device offers and how good is that device? There’s no doubt that mobiles will be the new home PCs as more applications are available on mobiles, and we’re excited to be part of this revolution.

• What do you think the government (federal and state) should do to improve the culture of innovation and the telecom industry?

Securing funding for research and development work can be a challenge. We were lucky to secure grants from the Commonwealth Government, as well as Telstra, to fund a lot of our initial development work. With better R&D grants systems in place, a lot more young companies, like us, will have the means to pursue the great ideas that they have. Things appear to have gone backwards on this front recently, and I’m really looking forward to seeing this addressed and the Rudd government doing all it can to support innovation – because innovation drives business growth, new jobs and exports – supporting it makes a lot of sense.

• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up? Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
Trade shows, competitions and conferences are the best places to meet and spend time with like-minded people working in the same exciting space. Recently, we were at the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge, and it was fantastic for those reasons. We met and got to put our solution in front of some of the major players in the industry. At the same time, we were getting to know fellow exhibitors and competitors from all around the world.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Be passionate about what you’re doing and be ready for the long haul. It can be a long road, with a lot of hard work, stress and rejection – you have to be strong enough to persevere and believe in what you’re doing. Sometimes a great idea doesn’t always take off, and Google may not be on the trail to buy you out. This business takes a lot of commitment, reinvention and adaptation, and you must be passionate and tenacious to take yourself through the long process.
Also, if you’re going to start your own business, I’d advise you to work in a small start-up yourself first – best to know what you’re in for and learn from other people’s mistakes first!

Thanks, Adele for sharing your thoughts with us. All the best for the future.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation,
analysis, and tech trends, check out our coverage on interviews can be found here

Comments

Bellthorpe said…
Why the cynicism about Sausage Software? Sausage was Australia's first listed Internet company, and it's one of the rare Internet companies from those days that:

* Paid its bills
* Paid its employees
* Turned a profit
* Still exists today (under a different name)

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