Toni Viñals On His How And Why Spain’s Netipbox Technologies Spun Out Nsign.TV As Its Own Digital Signage Platform

December 8, 2021 by Dave Haynes

The Spanish-based solutions provider and integrator Netipbox Technologies has been providing AV and IT-driven digital signage solutions in that region, and across southern Europe, for more than a decade. In recent years, the company has rounded out its offer by developing and marketing its own software solution.

That platform got to a level of maturity and customer acceptance that the company – which has a main office in Barcelona and satellites in Madrid and Miami – spun out the software as its own thing, called

The SaaS platform is focused mainly on retail applications, leverages IoT data, and was designed in a way that makes it easy for third-party functionality – things like queue management – to drop into the management and control software as applets, with minimal extra coding or fuss.

I had a chance to speak with CEO Toni Viñals about the roots of the company and product, and how it operates. We also go into what’s happening in what seems like a very active digital signage scene in Spain, and get some tips on what to see and do for those people heading to Barcelona in February for ISE. Like me. I hope …

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Toni, thank you for joining me. Can you tell me what the distinction is between Nsign and Netipbox Technologies? 

Toni Viñals: Sure. Netipbox Technologies was a company I started 12 years ago in the digital signage industry, and we started delivering and doing projects for basically the retail and food industry, and then we jumped into the industry called digital signage where we didn’t know anything about it, and we started developing projects with different softwares, different solutions and different technologies, and we also realized that our end users basically, marketing directors and operations directors didn’t understand very well the technology that was behind the screens.

So we decided to start developing our own product based on the market and user needs, and three years ago, we decided to market the product and do a spinoff of Netipbox Technologies and with other people and with focus in terms of business, we developed a product called Nsign TV, which is already a product for a digital signage industry based on the market insights that we get from Netipbox. 

We are co-founders of two companies. One is Netipbox Technologies, which is based in Barcelona and is basically focusing on clients, end users and B2C customers based in South Europe and we have Nsign TV, which is a global product that we are deploying worldwide through partners in the digital signage industry. 

Okay. So would it be fair to say that Netipbox is more of a solutions provider versus Nsign, which is a SaaS software platform?

Toni Viñals: That’s a hundred percent correct but also Netipbox is an AV integrator too actually.

Okay, and from what you’re describing, it sounds like you developed this software because what was available on the market wasn’t really meeting the needs and wasn’t friendly enough for the marketing directors you were dealing with, and so you developed this and then decided to make it its own product instead of just an in house solution?

Toni Viñals: That’s correct. We realized based on our insights that in Spain, which is not a very digitized country in cooperation with other countries where digital signage is very insulated, that the approach to the market was a very AV or IT-first approach. You need the screen, then you need the digital media player, you need a CMS, and then you the operator runs the content, but the technology and the industry and the market were demanding. 

Digital signage is a solution that is based on content, based on communication. So it means that it has to be related with a marketing and communications department and the marketing and communications departments are very very dynamic, and a very real time communication division. So brands want to speak to the customers very fast. So we found that the solutions that we had at the moment weren’t that fast and that flexible so we decided to really create technology, our own problem, based on that experience. 

Was one of the drivers behind it having a user experience and everything in Spanish and potentially even Catalan? What language do you offer the platform? 

Toni Viñals: We offer the platform in thirteen languages, and so we also have a tutorial, in academia, which is based in six languages. So I think we are one of the platforms that are using a lot of languages, but the usual experience is the same in Spain or in Belgium.

Our vision is that in physical spaces, they’re going to be more and more screens in the next 10 years. Okay. The pandemic has just accelerated this need. The screens are being shown everyday more and more for not only communicating, but also for signs on for everything. But the thing is how you can control and how you go over these screens? Our experience is that the end users, not our partners, but the end user and the pain that they have is that how do I manage all the infrastructure around the AV technology for my department’s needs? And Nsign’s a solution that wants to cover this pain, and we want to really control any kind of screen and device that will be in a physical space, even if it’s a menu board screen, a mobile, or also the PC screen, for instance. 

So when you talk on your website about omni-channel, that’s what you’re talking about?

Toni Viñals: Exactly and also a channel isolated to one message can be a display, your website and your Instagram can also can be displayed on your screen at point of sale. This is the only channel of communication that we think brands are rooting for. 

Are you hearing from any marketing directors that it was important to them, that they didn’t want to have to use multiple platforms to communicate to multiple channels, they would be particularly happy if they could all do everything off of one? 

Toni Viñals: That’s our thought, and that’s what we think, and that’s our vision of the market, and if you go, for instance, companies like Ikea, here in Spain, when they have one platform for all, they are increasing the use of AV technology or digital signage technology at their facilities. If they have to use different technologies for different proposals, that’s going to be more difficult to scale that solution for a company. 

Yeah, that’s interesting. So they’re basically saying that we will do a lot more internal and customer-facing communications if we have tools that make that efficient, but if it’s not efficient, we’re not going to do it?

Toni Viñals: Exactly, because the IT department and technology departments are limited. They have a few guys selecting the global platforms for use in different areas and different business units. 

Is most of your business in Spain, or are you in South Europe? 

Toni Viñals: We are expanding very quickly and very fast. We now have business in more than 25 countries. We are also based in the States. We have an office in Miami that we opened one year before COVID and I’m traveling hopefully in two weeks again to really reconnect with our partners, but we are also in Mexico, France, UK, Poland, basically Europe, USA and others.

How are they finding your company just end-users? Are they just finding you off the internet? 

Toni Viñals: They find us through our partners. We have a lot of partners in each country and we have a partner program where we help them to market the opportunities that they have. So we help them because of our knowledge of the industry, in terms of developing business in digital signage and the AV market. So we are helping them just to target the opportunities that they have. Also, we are working with a lot of brands that are using Nsign and adapting it for communications at physical spaces, so that’s an opportunity to ask also to open new markets. 

It’s a pretty crowded market on the software side. There’s an awful lot of software as a service solutions out there, and many to most of them market on the basis that they’re easy to use, they’re intuitive, they’re flexible, data-driven, all these things. How do you differentiate yourself in that crowded market?

Toni Viñals: I agree that it’s a crowded market, but it’s a very local crowded market. We differentiate in three things. One is the all-in-one platform, so we can really deploy and manage different screens, different kinds of displays over one platform and other one single media player. That’s another feature that we have that’s very strong. We have a solution based on Android, we are able to run LED, video walls. We can create effects that I think no other players can do or at least not too much softwares can provide. The second one is interaction. We have a mobile with IOT and interact with these very one by one. When customers understand the power of using digital signage and interacting through IOT on the same platform, we just have a few competitors on this list, and finally the concept of applets, where the client or the partner can deploy micro applications inside Nsign that are very powerful in terms of creating big projects with low cost. That’s very interesting and that’s a big difference.

So how would that manifest itself? I was speaking to somebody the other day about this and the example they used were meeting room booking systems, and I guess another one would be queue management. Are those the sorts of things you’re talking about?

Toni Viñals: Yeah, queue management and meeting rooms or dynamic pricing in the food industry, these kinds of things are really in demand and of course we need a screen to deploy this content and the content has to be intelligent, content has to be smart, and the content has to be connected to other things apart from the CMS through an API and that’s what an applet can really provide to the projects, and that’s the differentiation in terms of if you compare us as a simple or single CMS software, which I agree with that there a lot and each country has the local hero, but they are not as much as platforms that work globally. 

So you could have functionality from a different kind of company, just for a simple example, a company that specializes in queue management, and their coders could develop an applet embed it inside of Nsign and mix together both solutions. Is there a lot of API work or it would pretty much just drop in and you map it to networks?

Toni Viñals: It’s basically drag and drop, but also depending on the integration, we also have an API, but it means that it’s very easy to connect one system with others, but at the end the user wants one screen with both solutions. That’s what the user wants, and also in terms of code and in terms of management systems, you need to rely on one system.

What are some of the customers and projects that you’re allowed to talk about? 

I always qualify that because you may have some very big ones who don’t allow you to say that you work with them. 

Toni Viñals: Yeah, we work with a lot of brands and we want to be very transparent and very open. We think that technology has to be software as a service, technology has to be cloud, and at the end, our technology, and the digital signage industry has to move to a transparent technology, and that’s what we are promoting, and we are working with companies like EA Sports, like Ikea, Dominos, etc. All these brands are adopting Nsign because of our approaches that we are a communication platform for the physical spaces. If they have an integrator or some of them has an integrator in each country, we can work with integrators but at the end, we are focusing on working on the idea that the digital science industry needs to be more sexy or attractive and more open to the end user. I didn’t know that you understood what I’m trying to say, but that’s our vision as a company.

So when you say more open to the end user, what do you mean by that? 

Toni Viñals: Just like companies use Slack for communication and HubSpot for marketing strategy, why not use Nsign for communication in physical spaces? That’s the marketing position we want to take. 

It sounds like a fair amount of what you do is retail based. Have you seen in recent years an evolution at all in terms of how retailers want to use digital signage? 

I’m intrigued by how it seems to have gone away a lot from “digital posters” to much bigger feature walls, but there also seems to be more interest in interactive and there’s more interest in behind the scenes, operational signage, just talking to staff more than customers. 

Toni Viñals: We are very focused in the retail and F&B industry, but also we are growing a lot in hospitality and supermarkets, and those are the markets that are really adopting and understanding how this technology can help to grow the business. 

In terms of cooperation, we also have realized that after COVID, a lot of companies are really looking for a solution to help them to communicate with employees and to talk to them, to engage them after COVID to promote the back to work campaign. That’s what we’re seeing.

You have an academy. What is that and what’s its purpose? 

Toni Viñals: For us, we want this academy to be the center of learnings about what we have done in the last 10 years and to help people that don’t know anything about digital signage or about communication at the point of sale, it’s a place we want to start putting all the knowledge that we have to start creating this community of Nsigners, which is those people that our end-users’ clients that are marketers. 

People from IT, or AV or Designers, they really don’t know the potential of digital signage, and that’s the academy. We want to put all our knowledge there, and to be one of the most popular places to go to learn from the start.

Is the academy something that you only have access to if you’re a customer already or can somebody just come in? 

Toni Viñals: You can just log into our platform, it’s a free trial. Once you log in, you will have access to the academy. 

Is that important, the free trial aspect of it? I see that with a lot of companies where they seem to do that.

Toni Viñals: It’s important for us to keep the customer or the user trust, and to deliver a good service. It’s important because we know who is in our community and how we can help them to achieve their goals. So that’s important.

On top of that, as we deploy the service through partners, when we get a lead, the service is delivered through a certified partner to the end user, and once we have a customer, we share the customer with our partners and together deliver the service that this project or the end user needs. So for us, it’s important that it’s targeted and controlled. 

You mentioned your partner system, and you had said earlier that you could think of Netipbox as an AV integrator. How do you handle that conflict or is the work that you do purely in your local area and your partners in other countries wouldn’t see the Netipbox side of the business as competition of what they do? 

Toni Viñals: In the beginning, they were afraid of course, cause we weren’t here to explain that the market is huge and we are working with opportunities. If you are working with a client and you bring the client to the Nsign service, we don’t steal the client or bring the client to another seller. So we are very strict and very focused on working with partners. Of course, this is in Spain, but this Spain isn’t the complete market. 

In other quantities, we work through partnerships. Each partnership has their own customers and we have to work on opportunities with them, and also we are targeting our marketing actions to attract the leads, depending on the specialization. There are partners that are really good in retail, partners that are really good in hospitality and so on, and depending on the end user, we usually work with one partner or different partners if we are bringing the lead. If not, we are very strict and very professional. 

I’m a big fan of companies like yours finding partners who are specialists in vertical markets instead of just being generalists.

Toni Viñals: I think it’s very important, but the thing that you have to know and you have to understand at the beginning is that you can’t target the whole market.

Yeah, no kidding. You had said earlier that in the early days of your company, there wasn’t a lot happening in Spain compared to maybe other parts of Europe and North America and so on. But I get a sense that Barcelona in particular, but Spain more broadly, there’s a lot going on. You’ve got some pretty big integrators, and you’ve got a number of interesting creative shops, other software companies and so on. It seems like there’s a lot happening these days.

Toni Viñals: I think that there is a lot happening because we have passionate professionals that really see this industry as a big opportunity to work with, and I agree that there are projects and solutions that we have deployed here in Spain that I didn’t see in the States or Canada or in Mexico or in northern Europe.

I think that we are pushing innovation in the industry, and Barcelona has a great potential to lead in terms of technology and integrators. 

You have a great benefit now in that if you want to put up a stand at Integrated Systems Europe, you no longer have to pack up a truck and drive up to Amsterdam, you can sleep at home at night. 

Toni Viñals: Exactly. We are just five minutes out via taxi from our offices. So I think that’s a great opportunity for us, for the industry to really increase the business and influence that we have in the industry.

And you will have a stand at ISE? 

Toni Viñals: Yes, we will have a stand in the digital signage sector. This is the first time that we are exhibiting as Nsign TV, and also we have a joint venture with a Japanese monitor company, where they are going to have the Nsign solution embedded from scratch to their products. so we will also be at their booth, explaining the opportunities and the benefits of having Nsign as a solution.

So for people who are coming from other parts of Europe and in particular, for people coming over from North America and elsewhere, who’ve never been to Barcelona, but they are coming for ISE, is there a piece of advice or something that it’s always useful for them to know before they get on a plane and head over?

Toni Viñals: If you have never been to Barcelona before, you will enjoy the city, because I think the weather is going to be better than Amsterdam hopefully, but you will have spectacular food, spectacular restaurants, and events that will be running in parallel from the ISE.

Also, if you like technology or digital signage, you will have the opportunity to see different projects. I think they really are unique. So yeah, there’s a lot to visit in terms of leisure and business. 

I’m looking forward to coming over. I haven’t been to Barlenoa so it’s a big deal for me, but I also haven’t been on a plane in two years.

Toni Viñals: You couldn’t go to InfoComm? 

I could have, but there weren’t enough compelling reasons to go. But ISE should be pretty normal, I certainly hope so. 

Toni Viñals: If you have the time, I’d really encourage you to come one week before to really enjoy the city and visit the industry that we have here because I think you’ll love it.

All right, Tony. Thank you so much for spending a half an hour with me. 

  1. David Saad says:

    Congratulations Toni!!! Amazing DS Solution

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