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UT System Horizon Fund invests $200K in video transfer start-up latakoo
By Christi Fish
Associate Director of Media Relations
(Oct. 25, 2012) -- Latakoo, a start-up company that offers an easy-to-use online video transfer product, has been selected to receive a $200,000 investment from the University of Texas (UT) System Horizon Fund. The investment is significant news for latakoo and for The University of Texas at San Antonio, which is part owner in the company and is conducting research to further develop the company's product.
"Upstream Internet connections are not that robust, so there's a lot of waiting when you want to upload high-definition video because the files are so big," said Paul Adrian, latakoo CEO. "The service we offer makes uploading large video files to a secure account in the cloud easy and really fast."
Latakoo was founded by Paul Adrian and Jade Kurian, former broadcast journalists who experienced the challenge of sending large video files from the field to the station. Customers pay a modest monthly fee to download software from www.latakoo.com onto their hard drives. Then, they can drag, drop and click to quickly transfer virtually any video to latakoo's secure Web-based cloud service. From there, the files can be shared, streamed or downloaded.
"The service is useful for video professionals," said Kurian, "but it's also useful for anyone with a cell phone that shoots video. Without latakoo, it's difficult to share video from a phone in a cellular environment, but our service makes it easy."
Early in 2010, latakoo struck up a relationship with Sos Agaian, the UTSA Peter T. Flawn Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Agaian is an expert in image optimization and compression. Shortly thereafter, latakoo joined UTSA's New Venture Incubator. The facility, managed by UTSA Chief Commercialization Officer Cory Hallam, nurtures start-up companies that are commercializing UTSA intellectual property or sponsoring UTSA research expected to lead to new intellectual property. The incubator fits into the broader technology commercialization environment of San Antonio as an early-phase source of new ventures.
"The university's solution will provide huge relief for any person or company that needs to move massive files -- starting with video -- to the cloud in a safe and secure manner," said Adrian. "And, what's great is that UTSA is working like a start-up business. When a feature is ready out of Dr. Agaian's laboratory, we can wrap it in. Little by little, we're maturing the product."
Latakoo's product is catching on with broadcast companies that, until now, have been dependent on satellite trucks and expensive software and hardware to send their video from the field to the newsroom. The start-up has already signed deals with the Belo Corp., the Nexstar Broadcasting Group and NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News. Political campaigns, industry organizations, video production companies, freelance photographers and private individuals also use the product, according to Kurian.
Hallam says the universality of video sharing and the inclusion of a video camera on most every smart phone offer great potential for latakoo's growth. "We have witnessed an evolution of video," he said. "The format has changed immensely. First it was tape. Then it was a disc. Now it's a digital card sitting in the camera. Every new generation of data has a new way of storing that video, and the files are getting larger and larger. Super HD is coming down the road, and those files are four to 16 times larger than what we have today."
Moving forward, latakoo is focused on raising funds and developing its product. The start-up has raised $550,000 in its current funding round, bringing the total to $1.8 million including the investment from the UT System Horizon Fund. UT System funding will help latakoo sustain its sales and marketing while growing the company. It also will support continued research by Agaian and UTSA doctoral student Richard Metzler, who are working on ways to support the transfer of hour-long video clips.
"We are pleased to support commercialization of technologies out of the exciting research at UTSA," said Bryan Allinson, executive director of Technology Commercialization for the UT System. "The Horizon Fund serves as a strategic fund for the UT System, and this investment in latakoo has the potential to not only provide positive return on investment from our research, but to further improve commercialization of UT technologies serving to support our strategic mission."
"I cannot tell you how much it helps to have UTSA behind us," said Adrian. "We have strong ties to Austin and San Antonio. We cannot think of a partner we would rather have in the community than the University of Texas System."
Latakoo is an Austin company providing an end-to-end video management platform, specializing in the simplification of video delivery and archiving over the Internet without costly investment in hardware and software.
The UT System Horizon Fund serves as a strategic fund for the UT System, one of the nation's largest systems of public higher education, and, with its nine academic and six health institutions, a national leader in education, research, health care and service. Its health professionals are responsible for providing care to millions of patients each year, and its academic faculty is engaged in cutting-edge research, making significant discoveries to improve the lives of people around the globe. The goals of the UT Horizon Fund are to improve commercialization of UT technologies and improve sustainability through a positive return on investment.