Living On The Bleeding Edge — Yaniv Davidson, Founder of Tunity

I had the pleasure of interviewing Yaniv Davidson, Founder of Tunity for my series on bleeding edge technology.

Gene: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Please give us a brief overview of your background and how you got started in this industry.
Sure. I’m an engineer by training and began my career at Intel. My first experience with startups and mobile was when I was brought in by the investors as the CTO and co-founder of a startup I helped launch and lead to 8-digit revenues. After my MBA from Kellogg, I traveled a lot as a consultant at BCG, and it was during this period while I was waiting for a flight when I first realized how much time
people were spending in front of silent televisions and came up with the idea of how to create a
better user experience. I went on to lead the US business development efforts at a startup called mySupermarket, where I interacted with the CMOs of many Fortune 500 brands and noticed the amount of money these brands were spending on their TV media buying without any information on the 10–20% of OOH viewing. That’s what led me to go all in. I found Adi, my co-founder, within a few weeks and we began running with the idea.

Gene: Can you please tell us more about what your company does? I love learning about cool new tech, so please feel free to geek out with me on this.
Gladly. Tunity is an application which allows users to hear live audio from muted televisions directly on their mobile devices. Through our patented deep learning and computer vision technology we are able to scan TV screens, identify the channel the frame is on, analyze the image and synchronize the
frame with the audio on your mobile device — enabling users like you and me to hear muted TV’s through our mobile devices, wherever you may be. Think airport, gyms, bars, or even when you’re at home if you don’t want to disturb others. The other side of our business is the data measurement of OOH (out of home) viewing. We provide data to networks regarding who is watching their broadcasts OOH. Currently, Nielsen’s capabilities only allow them to record audiences who are watching TV with volume, meaning there is a huge
segment of OOH viewers which is not being captured for networks. This is a huge gap in an $80–90B market, and highly important to the success of a brand’s advertising, reach, targeting, and more. Tunity’s vision is to fill those gaps and provide a solution for major networks.

Gene: Who are your competitors in this space? What makes your company stand out?
Honestly, we don’t really have any direct competitors right now, because Tunity has such a unique offering. If you want to listen to a muted TV, Tunity is the only solution out there that doesn’t involve hardware. The biggest challenge we’re focused on is awareness.

Gene: What sort of traction have you guys gotten so far? Are you a well-known brand? Still in the startup stage? Or somewhere in the middle?
We’re still in the startup phase, as we’re still in the early stages of monetization. We’ve had really nice traction with over 1.5M organic downloads of our app, but we’re still far from being a well-known
brand. We have been heads down focused on building the technology behind Tunity, and we’ve only transitioned to focusing more on our marketing and business development recently with the close of our series A funding.

Gene: What is the most innovative project that you have ever worked on?
I don’t mean to sound cliché here, but it would have to be Tunity. The innovation and technology behind our patent for providing synchronized content is groundbreaking, and I love seeing the excitement in people’s eyes when they try out Tunity for the first time.

Gene: Who is your hero (In your business or personal life)? How have they inspired you to become the person you are today.
You know, I don’t have one person that I think of as my hero, but I get inspired daily by the stories of people who overcome tremendous challenges to achieve their dreams. Most recently, I’ve been inspired by the amazing story of Shaquem Griffin and the challenges he’s had to overcome to become
a highly coveted NFL prospect.

Gene: If you could jump into a time machine, go back in time, and change one aspect of your past, what would it be, and why?
Looking back, my only regret is not doing things faster. So, I guess if I could go back in time, what I would do is light a fire under my, um, behind.

Gene: How will the work, your team is doing impact humanity in the future? For example, bringing people closer together, creating more jobs, create killer robots that will destroy all of humanity (joking), etc.
Well, Tunity is focused on helping people in their day to day lives, and we do that in several ways. One big impact we’re having is making people’s experience at bars, gyms, and waiting rooms more enjoyable. Another positive impact we have is allowing people to watch TV at home without
disrupting others, removing unnecessary argument from people’s daily lives. This is especially helpful to hard-of- hearing people and their families.

Gene: Throughout our careers, we have all run into a few roadblocks. Can you please tell us about a time that you failed? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?
Ha, I run into roadblocks every day! At Tunity we think big and explore uncharted territories, and with that comes mistakes and failures. I fail and make mistakes every day, and the way I see it, every day you don’t make mistakes is a day you didn’t push the envelope.

Gene: What advice would you give to an inexperienced founder of a technology company? 
What always pays, and we always feel we can do better, is to invest in building a strong team. Throughout my career I have realized just how important this aspect is- you are nothing without the people behind you. At Tunity we are still perfecting this aspect, always looking for new ways to invest in people. My advice is to work with people who are connected to the mission and vision of the company, and do not come to work just for the wages and benefits

Gene: If you could spend one day with any person (alive or not), who would it be any why?
If I had to choose only one, it would have to be Michael Jordan. Not only was he the absolute best at his craft, but he changed the whole sport. As an entrepreneur my mission and goals are very similar, keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible and hopefully change the industry…and in Tunity’s case, the world.