Startup Spotlight Q&A: CEEK VR
CEEK is a streaming platform for Virtual Events and Experiences featuring the biggest names in music, sports, and entertainment. With multiple software and hardware patents, CEEK delivers world-class immersive content across mobile, desktop, Smart TV, and VR Headsets.
Mary Spio is the CEO and Founder of CEEK VR Inc (a streaming platform for virtual events and experiences that verifies content usage on the blockchain. A Deep Space Engineer; Mary helped create Boeing’s industry-changing digital cinema technology, which revolutionized how movies are distributed. Mary is on the Board of Facebook’s Oculus VR for Good, Amazon’s Launchpad and is a scientific reviewer for the Department of Defense (DOD). Mary is the inventor of the World’s First 4D Audio Headphones for VR, ASMR, Music, and more. Ms. Spio is the author of ‘It's Not Rocket Science — 7 Game-changing Traits for Uncommon Success’. Mary has been awarded over 8 Technology Patents in satellite streaming, virtual reality, and 4d audio technology.
— In a single sentence, what does CEEK VR do?
CEEK is a streaming platform for virtual events and VR experiences. We are building the gathering spaces of the future.
– How did CEEK VR come to be? What was the problem you found and the ‘aha’ moment?
I’ve always been a 3D fan, when I tried my first VR headset, the experience was so awesome, I wanted to use it for everything — movies, music concerts, sports, training, healthcare, events and basically everything. I knew it would be a great opportunity, especially for music fans to attend concerts together from anywhere in the world. CEEK was born because no one was using VR in this way, and I had many music artists who wanted to extend their reach to fans around the globe without having to physically tour every corner of the earth.
Most musician make their living off touring, and even before Covid there were limitations on venue capacity, geography and fan availability. I saw CEEK as an opportunity for fans to attend their favorite concerts no matter where they are located in the world and for artists to sell unlimited concert tickets through a very intimate medium that puts artists and fans in the same shared space.
— What sets CEEK VR apart in the market?
What makes CEEK different is our ability to do both interactive live streams in 2D as well as 360 VR and verify content viewership on the blockchain making it super transparent for artists to see exactly how many tickets they’ve sold in real-time.
We are solving perhaps the biggest problem facing our industry which is trust. Artists no longer have to blindly rely on the streaming platform to determine how their content was monetized, they have immutable proof on the blockchain.
Other things that excite our customers about CEEK isthe ability to directly monetize their fanbase through live streams and virtual reality experiences through CEEK to all the leading platforms including Facebook Oculus, HTC Viveport, and of course our own platform and mobile VR Headset. For global artists who are not realizing revenue from touring due to Covid CEEK is now their revenue lifeblood for directly generating revenue from their fanbase.
— What milestone are you most proud of so far?
Reaching 100k users was a big milestone. So was reaching 1 Million concurrent users. Holding the record for the largest Livestream with 9.8 million views in 24hours according to Billboard Magazine for the Bob Marley tribute we did with Ziggy Marley is by far one of the most exciting milestones to date. We’ve also won some awesome awards like the CLIO going up against the likes of Star Wars etc…I hope it’s clear to Silicon Valley that we know what the people want :)
— Have you pursued funding and if so, what steps did you take?
It’s been a challenge, but we’ve been fortunate to get funding from corporate partners who see the tremendous value the CEEK ecosystem provides them now and as we scale. Celebrities, Angels, and funds such as Black Star and BATIF.
– What KPIs are you tracking that you think will lead to revenue generation/growth?
We are tracking engagement metrics, the number of users, etc. That’s one of the best indicators of sustainable revenue and long-term growth.
— How do you build and develop talent?
I’ve built a big global team so that we can have the best talent from around the globe, particularly in regions where we have a lot of users. By building a strong virtual team, we are able to leverage the best in the world. It’s crazy to me when people say they can’t find good talent, that’s because they are not looking outside the U.S which is only 4% of the globe.
— What are the biggest challenges for the team?
Building an industry solution used by massive partners like Universal Music, Microsoft and Oculus VR with a small team has been incredibly challenging for us. We’ve overcome the challenges by adding more team members.
— What’s been the biggest success for the team? How did you celebrate?
One of the biggest wins for us has been 3x NBA champion Dwyane Wade teaming up with CEEK to launch his Celebrity Basketball academy featuring the likes of CJ McCollum, Collin Sexton, Cheyenne Parker, and more virtually on CEEK. We celebrated with lunch with him and some team members also got to play with him at one of his camps.
— What’s something you’re constantly thinking about?
Revenue and Raising capital is a constant. We have so many opportunities that require capital to unlock in a big way. It’s not easy for most entrepreneurs. With each win, milestone, and customer I believe the mission becomes clearer and leads to attracting the right people to support us in making CEEK even more valuable to our customers and industry.
— What advice would you give to other founders?
The best advice I received is that when you’re in business to sell widgets, you have a company. When you’re in business to solve important problems, you create a movement that will long outlast you and also make you a lot of money. CEEK is a movement for music artists, schools, event organizers and others to directly monetize their physical events digitally.
— Have you been or are you part of a corporate startup program or accelerator? If so, which ones and what have been the benefits?
We are part of Microsoft for Startups, Oculus VR , Amazon Launchpad and
Microsoft for Startups — Being part of Microsoft for startups has been fantastic. We have a team that is very supportive particularly in us migrating to their cloud service. We are also looking forward to the benefits of being part of their marketplace with our Virtual Meeting Spaces (VR Venues), Virtual Reality Livestreaming, and more.
Oculus VR — Funding from Facebook Oculus was instrumental in helping CEEK create content early on. We also received great advice and a lot of guidance on what works and what doesn’t work in creating VR content from a technical perspective.
Amazon Launchpad — Cloud credits. (We need more, please!)
RetailXelerator — We have a patent awarded VR Headset and 4D Headphones which help complete the VR experience. Being selected to be part of the RetailXelerator was invaluable in establishing pricing and retail relationships.
— Are you raising capital now?