It’s a bit mind-wobbling to still see start-ups and early stage companies entering the hyper-crowded digital signage CMS software market, even more so when the company gets a healthy $7 million investment from a group of venture capitalists.
Raydiant is a two-year-old cloud-based signage CMS that was at first marketed as Mira Technologies. Based in San Francisco, the company offers a CMS product it says is easy to use and runs off an HDMI stick.
If those key features seem familiar, it’s only because they are. There are scores of companies who say what they have is dead-simple, and dumbed-down, just plug-in-the-back sticks date back at least – at least – five years to the old Dell sticks.
The company, says a press release, was founded in 2017 by Tuan Ho, with venture studio Atomic. Ho, a co-founder of internet TV pioneer Philo, saw an industry need for an innovative commercial platform to run screen-based applications on dynamic digital displays. Ho found that many enterprises needed ways to run applications on screens serving customers, clients and employees, but the current industry solutions, were often bespoke, improvised, unreliable, inefficient and incredibly expensive.
That suspect assertion, however, had a receptive audience. The company just announced a $7 million raise led by 8VC and joined by Atomic, Bloomberg Beta, Lerer Hippeau, SV Angel and Transmedia Capital. “This capital will be used,” says a press release, “to develop additional product features including new apps, enterprise features, and rich content offerings, to advance strategic partnerships, to grow the team and to help thousands of more businesses transform the customer experience and employee operations.”
“We are thrilled to have so much energy around the company with everything from our new brand, the financial support from our investors and incredible partnerships with the industry’s top enterprise companies,” says Bobby Marhamat, the company’s new CEO. “Raydiant is a thriving and growing company, and we are committed to providing businesses with first-class service to bring any screen to life and create an interactive experience within brick & mortar locations.”
I poked around the company’s website and watched its promo video. There’s nothing wrong about what’s being said, but also very little that’s new or different. Raydiant suggests this is a product intended for plugging into the back of TVs, which would make no end of digital signage ops people nervous. But that may also just be a way of simplifying explanations for target customers who don’t really know there are commercial displays.
It’s kinda sorta interesting that Raydiant has integrations with some 3rd party service platforms like BlueJeans, PosterMyWall, SinglePlatform and Soundtrack Your Brand. But with APIs, all kinds of companies have 3rd party integrations, widgets and data connectors. That said, working with SinglePlatform, which does menus, is interesting.
The company says it has 1,000s of current customers and has quickly become the “#1 Company in Digital Signage” – the latter based on customer review websites. If that is your go-to, trusted measure of quality and customer service for making business decisions, God speed.
I have not had a software demo. Raydiant might be kick-ass-good, for all I know. But there are many, many, many, many CMS alternatives that are solid, do a lot, and have been around much longer. The trend these days is for systems that either use players embedded in the displays, or rock-solid special-purpose reliable players from companies like Brightsign and IAdea.
My biggest head-shaker, though, is price. A pre-paid one-year software license works out to $39/month, which is way, way, way above the average street price for companies marketing “easy, simple” SaaS digital signage software. Though companies start higher, I pretty consistently hear these entry-level-ish, SMB-oriented platforms are getting about $10/month, and less at scale.
I also consistently hear platforms not focused on deep-pocketed enterprise customers, with services and head-counts to handle clients like banks and airlines, are stuck in a pricing race to zero. At less than $10 a seat a month, you have to sell a LOT of licenses and hope you make money off other things, like managed services.
Welcome Raydiant, and good luck! You have a mountain to climb.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.