That tag line is key. Elevate Digital, our featured startup today, has done one of those game changing things that you only see once in a while.
Remember back in the day when, if you wanted advertising — or sometimes didn’t want it — advertising would consume your time? It doesn’t do that anymore, exactly. Now, with a blend of social and the integration with mobile, consumers can be more choosy and brand can be more integrated into the lives of the consumers who choose them. It’s really fascinating to watch, and we have some videos here and links to videos so that you can see it.
Elevate Digital develops street-level technology that connects people where they live and work. We have seen this kind of technology in Seoul, Korea, where at busy subway platforms commuters waiting for their trains interact with celebrity content and even create their own content to compete for brand rewards and contests. Elevate Digital places their digital kiosks running branding campaigns at the street-level, usually in major metropolitan cities, so that people can take their photo, play interactive games and enter to win contests. Their latest campaign is about how Benny The Bull, Tommyhawk and Hubert have Bieber Fever! (video)
The success Elevate Digital is having is one of the reasons we are making them one of our Featured Startups. Read on to enjoy the interview.
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
George Burciaga: George Burciaga, Founder & CEO
BizSpark: What did you do before creating your company?
George Burciaga: I launched my first technology firm, Sunrise Technology, in 1998 while a student at DePaul University. In 2005, I started smarTECHS.net, a Chicago-based national IT firm. In 2011, I launched my most recent technology company Elevate Digital, a digital media company focused on developing interactive outdoor touch products that increase communication and enhance consumer access to technology and media.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
George Burciaga: Elevate Digital strives to inspire interactive technology that increases communication and integrates into mobile/social media while enhancing consumer access to services and media in an outdoor touch display device.
BizSpark: Tell us what your app does.
George Burciaga: Elevate Digital transforms traditional advertising and engages the consumer. The Elevate Digital application is presented to consumers on interactive displays in high-foot traffic areas. Elevate Digital engages the consumer through valuable information such as transit and city information as well as interactive advertising; allowing the advertiser to speak directly with consumer, retain data and create a memorable experience for the consumer. The Elevate Digital application can be completely customized to adapt to the informational needs of any audience, municipality, attraction or advertiser. In addition to providing information, the Elevate Digital application allows users to share branded photos which create a fun interaction and help spread the advertisers’ message through social sharing.
BizSpark: How did you get the idea for your app?
George Burciaga: I saw the need for an innovative mechanism to deliver advertising messages to consumers as well as provide value to advertisers. Elevate Digital set out to take the capabilities of digital signage, self-service kiosks and interactive technology to the next level. Elevate Digital is unique because of the value the application provides to both consumers and brands through mobile integration with the machines. Consumers are able to take their interaction with the machines on the go, by sending the information – coupons, transit information, directions, etc. – to their smart mobile devices. The experience and interaction that the user had with the machine and the brand continues on even after the consumer walks away from the display. Through this, Elevate Digital is able to create a customer experience that is advantageous to both consumers and brand marketers, and expands beyond the physical bounds of their machines.
BizSpark: Tell us what your customers love most about your app.
George Burciaga: Both of our core customers – consumers and advertisers are delighted with the photo sharing feature of the Elevate Digital application. Users enjoy taking and sharing photos at popular attractions such as Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Water Tower Place and many others throughout Chicagoland. Consumers then email or post their photos to Facebook, increasing the number of impressions virally. Advertisers may frame the shared photos with embedded links and advertising messages delivering their messaging to an entirely new audience through the sharing feature. In 2012, nearly 500,000 photos were taken and shared on Elevate Digital’s interactive digital displays resulting in over 9 Million impressions increasing advertiser reach.
BizSpark: Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
George Burciaga: Elevate Digital was founded with a combination of investments by its founders, as well as funding from Advantage Capital Partners in April 2012. Elevate Digital is currently in the process of closing a second round of funding to support expansion throughout the US.
BizSpark: How many employees do you have?
George Burciaga: 18
BizSpark: How many of your employees are developers?
George Burciaga: 5
BizSpark: Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
George Burciaga: Yes, PM, Developers, sales and operations positions.
BizSpark: Which platform are you building on? Why?
George Burciaga: Windows 8, we are focused on an outdoor touch experience.
BizSpark: Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
George Burciaga: Many consumers now have several devices and want information to be shared and easily accessible on all of them. Whether it’s their smartphone, tablet or home computer, consumers want to be connected to all of their digital information. Developing flexible interactive software that facilitates sharing among multiple devices will help to further increase communication and convenience for users.
BizSpark: What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
George Burciaga: BizSpark provides an amazing opportunity to assist with technical roadblocks and enhance great ideas that will change tomorrow’s technology. BizSpark is a resource that is valued highly by all Elevate Digital staff.
BizSpark: What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?
Startups: Guidance and opportunities to expand our visibility.
BizSpark: What advice do you have for young Software entrepreneurs?
George Burciaga: Stay focused on changing the world; innovation is the result of what people say is impossible. Make it possible and never give up on your dreams.
BizSpark: What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?
George Burciaga: The first time I saw a group of people standing in front of our interactive displays and the crowd started to form I knew we had something special. I knew we had created an engaging medium that could deliver informational content, advertising messages and a positive experience to consumers.