Taiv (YC W20) – Replace TV commercials with content people care about

Hey HN!

We’re Noah, Avi, and Jordan from Taiv (https://www.taiv.tv). We make a box that lets sports bars and other businesses replace live TV commercials with content their customers actually care about.

A year and a half ago, I was sitting in a local bar and saw a commercial showing that the same beer I was drinking was cheaper across the street. The place I was in had other drinks on specials for way cheaper and great happy hour food, but they didn’t have an effective way to tell me about it. I ended up walking away feeling ripped off when I could have left a happy customer if they had been able to more effectively make me aware of their specials.

It got me investigating how businesses communicate with their customers. I found out that half of all restaurants close within a year and that one of the most common reasons they fail is because they’re unable to educate their customers about everything they offer and what events they have coming up. We built Taiv to give business owners a way to communicate with their customers, by showing content during commercial breaks on the TVs people are already watching.

Taiv uses custom hardware that lets us analyze the cable box’s video output in real-time. It also lets us switch between passing the content through, or showing videos from another input. But it turns out that a harder part of the problem is the analysis for classifying video. We compute a bunch of different heuristics and use the combination of their outputs to classify video as either a commercial or content. For example, one of our heuristics looks at average color balance over small periods of time. When the color balance shifts significantly, it indicates that a scene has changed. We use a bunch of other similar heuristics, which in combination, allow us to classify the stream with good accuracy.

Some of our customers have increased their sales by thousands of dollars a month. It also makes the experience a lot better for their customers. TV commercials are annoying and loud, and we replace that with relevant and non-intrusive content and music. Some of our customers even use the commercial breaks to show funny videos without any advertising at all. Not all of our customers are restaurants. We also work with car dealerships, car washes, hotels, and gyms to give them control over what they show and help them educate their customers.

One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is that we’re getting the most traction from larger enterprises, but are having trouble really connecting with smaller businesses. We think the product could be really valuable for them, especially since they don't usually have as much marketing reach. But we’re having trouble portraying the value of the system when they can’t track how it affects their revenue nearly as accurately. We’d love to hear the community’s experience and ideas in this area, as well as any questions or feedback!

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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov