Where it's based: Santa Clara, Calif.
When it was founded: 2013
Why it's Fierce: 4SeTV founder Hyung Lim saw an opportunity to introduce a "mosaic" tiling feature that pay-TV providers might be interested in, and has parlayed that into a consumer-targeted multiscreen device that could put cord cutters ahead of traditional cable on the technology curve.
4SeTV's device allows viewers to watch four programs at once on either their television or mobile device such as a tablet. What is the attraction of this kind of multi-viewing? For Lim, trying to watch the game while other members of his household wanted to see other things led him to look for a solution.
The company's initial device was created for South Korean manufacturer DMT Co. Ltd. "About a year ago I went back to DMT to pitch the idea of making this new equipment with an app that fixes a problem that a lot of us sports fans have. So I proposed that DMT take this product to the B2B customers that they always had, which are the cable operators and satellite operators," Lim told FierceOnlineVideo. With DMT enthusiastic about the device, he proposed that he take it to the U.S. market, with the goal of selling directly to consumers. "It's a great way to introduce a brand new product and let people see what we are making. I convinced them that we could do this thing as a U.S. startup and an independent company by getting additional funding from DMT."
With DMT's seed funding, Lim went ahead with product development, demonstrating a prototype at CableLabs last year. The next phase of the company's funding was a bit more challenging: To cover the costs of producing the final design, Lim launched a Kickstarter campaign--although it didn't meet its funding goal. Lim regrouped, continued to demo the product--adding an optional antenna to the unit--and re-launched the crowdfunding initiative. This time his Kickstarter campaign reached 115 percent of its $50,000 goal.
What's next: With eight part-time employees in the U.S., and the help of DMT engineers dedicated to the pay-TV version of the product in Korea, 4SeTV is moving forward to its retail launch. Lim is shopping the device at shows like CE Week and exploring retail channels, including featuring the device on home shopping networks.
After the retail launch, Lim plans to court pay-TV operators about the possibility of integrating the device's hardware and functionality into their equipment.
Lim is also eying the next step in TV and OTT delivery, Ultra High Definition (UHD). "The whole TV market has shifted so fast. UHD TV sales will go through the roof," Lim said. "So pay-TV operators need a UHD solution."
With more companies offering next-generation and hybrid IP solutions, 4SeTV is trying to grow within a competitive segment, facing manufacturers like TiVo, which sells to both consumers and MVPDs. But Lim remains confident.
"I think it's a big market and if there's competition, we'll see who does better," he said.