As I was starting to write a blog post celebrating MotionDSP’s Fast 500 award, our VP of Marketing came across an article about us written nearly 10 years ago by TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington. It was fascinating reading his article along with the comments and reflecting on my vision for the business at that time. Oh, how so many things have changed.
1. Multiple market pivots – from the consumer, to law enforcement, to military.
When you start a company and put together a business plan, you think you have it all figured out. In 2006, we thought our entire business would be centered around automatically fixing crappy mobile phone videos for YouTube. Fast forward to 2015 and our biggest customer is the government, who use our technology to improve the quality of live streaming video from drones. Along the way, we developed a suite of applications to serve law enforcement, commercial security, and commercial drones.
2. Growing without VC funding.
Like many startups, we thought we would raise venture funding. The TechCrunch article mentions that we were planning a Series A venture round. We never did because at the time, VCs knew little to nothing about drones. Instead, we ended up raising just enough angel funding over the first 3 years to make the company profitable. We’ve grown organically ever since, reaching the point where we were ranked #256 in the 2015 Deloitte Technology Fast 500. It’s exciting to us to rank among a group of 500 of the fastest growing tech companies in North America, 67% of which used venture funding to achieve their revenue growth, without any VC funding of our own.
3. A single algorithm evolved into a mature product solution.
10 years ago, we thought one algorithm was a solution. The TechCrunch article describes us getting computational super-resolution to work, something that was a huge achievement at the time. However, when we went to market, we quickly realized that video suffers from a myriad of problems including poor lighting, shake, noise, color distortion, atmospheric haze, encoding errors, interlacing, blurring and lens distortion. We had to create algorithms that addressed all of these problems, something we accomplished over several years with a lot of research and development and engineering time.
Our current products have a full suite of image processing capabilities that address the aforementioned issues in video, geospatial capabilities for understanding where the video pixels are in the world, and now, computer vision algorithms. To top it off, they are all GPU-accelerated and shipped with a mature UI that supports a fast workflow. We would have never imagined how sophisticated and rich our product would become in 10 years. It’s a far cry from helping people make their cat videos look better on YouTube.
These examples are just a tiny fraction of all the changes MotionDSP went through in the past 10 years as we’ve responded to changes in our target markets, the overall economy, or technology. I’m very proud of making it to the Fast 500 by achieving 290% revenue growth from 2011-2014 with zero external investment and just the hard work of our now 40+ employees. It wasn’t easy.