After growing 250 percent in each of the last three years, Charlottetown-based ScreenScape Networks is planning a major change this year on the presentation of its public video screens.
ScreenScape provides software that allows companies and organizations to broadcast messages on TV screens in public places. CEO and founder Mark Hemphill said in an interview last week that its oldest code is the three-year-old system it uses for the displays themselves. Now, these displays are getting an upgrade, probably in August.
“We’re beefing up the technology to have the best-looking displays in the world,” says Hemphill.
While ScreenScape is only revealing part of its plan, the company posted a blog on April 11 showcasing the changes. It has consulted with clients and was told they want more layouts, bigger text, and easier ways to post great content.
The current displays feature side panels and scrolls with a lot of text, sort of framing a central panel. The blog indicates the new displays are going to mark a generational leap forward, featuring huge images and fewer but more important words.
The new system will allow restaurants to post the most attractive board menus imaginable, taverns to feature huge pictures of coming entertainers, and retailers to post enticing photos of their products. It will also help customers with their branding. “We want it to look so cool and be so functional that you’ll feel you need it in your place of business,” says Hemphill.
The company will soon bring in existing clients to tell them about the pending changes and solicit feedback. It plans to implement the refreshed displays to attract new customers while doing nothing to disrupt old customers who are accustomed to the original displays.
The functionality of the new displays is found in their flexibility and ease of use. The software is web based, so each operator can customize his or her screen to suit the business. The displays will be based on a selection of templates, so they can be developed in minutes or hours rather than days. What’s more, various users can post their displays on each other’s TV screens, so they can collaborate.
For example, Castrol has been a customer for a while, and it agreed to put screens in Hyundai salesrooms for dealerships that renewed contracts to buy Castrol products. Hyundai was so impressed with the displays that it became a customer and is installing ScreenScape in almost 200 dealerships across Canada. Those screens can display the messages of Hyundai, Castrol, or any other ScreenScape clients that add to the Hyundai message.
This anecdote speaks to the size and quality of client that ScreenScape is attracting. The fact that Procter & Gamble, which is No. 26 in the Fortune 100 list of U.S. blue chip companies, recently signed up as a client adds to the evidence that ScreenScape is gaining acceptance with the world’s best; ScreenScape now has 2,000 paying customers and its growth trajectory isn’t slowing down.
For capital ScreenScape secured a $6-million investment last summer from Hartco Inc. of Montreal and gave the publicly traded IT company two seats on its board. Shortly thereafter, it sold a small amount of stock to families and friends, including Mariner chair Gerry Pond. The company now has about 40 investors, most of whom have sunk money into the outfit over the last two and a half years. So ScreenScape is one of those rare start-ups that, for now, doesn’t have to raise money, and instead, can focus on growing business.