STARTUP: MyWaves, based in Sunnyvale, CA.
ELEVATOR PITCH: Watch, and share web videos on your cell phone.
WHAT THEY DO: MyWaves delivers web-based video clips to cell phones. The site is designed so users can create and subscribe to other’s “video channels,” which are a series of back-to-back video clips. To make money, the company says it is doing licensing deals with carriers and offering sponsorship and branding deals for companies looking to reach mobile communities.
PEOPLE: CEO Rajeev Raman, a former EIR at Menlo Ventures, the company has 16 employees, and boasts executives from Napster, TiVo, Danger and Yahoo.
FUNDING: $6 million in Series A from Menlo Ventures.
THE DEAL: MyWaves recently launched its mobile video service into a sea of competitors — sharing video camera phone content is everyone’s favorite topic. MyWaves is different in that the company is focusing on its service for watching shared videos via cell phones. Unlike many companies that are concentrating on sending video camera phone content to be shared on the web, MyWaves aims at sharing web videos on the mobile.
To use the service you need a video-capable, data-enabled phone, and to get the best experience you should download the MyWaves application onto your cell phone, (not available for Verizon users yet). All that eliminates a lot of cell phone users right there. But if you do have a sophisticated enough phone to sign up, the company says its video technology determines the best video experience by determining factors like phone capabilities, network capabilities, and video capabilities on the fly.
My first thought was why reinvent the wheel and not just use MMS to watch user-generated cell phone videos? Raman says MMS is too limited by carriers, allowing no more than 15 seconds of video per message, not interactive enough, and basically designed to meet a messaging need, not entertainment.
Overall I think the company’s underlying mobile delivery technology is more interesting than some of the more basic mobile video-sharing startups on the market today. But at this point the service is hard to use and only available to a select audience. I tested the service on a Cingular LG CU500 and it took a really long time to go through the sign up process — Raman says they are working on simplifying it, as well as enhancing the how-to section. If this service simplified its design and interface, I could see the market ready for this maybe next year.