Startup Grind
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Startup Grind

Value. Patience. Persistence.

Funding Organic Growth Through Mega-Partnerships

CEEK VR has worked with tech giants including Google, Apple, Facebook, HTC, Universal Music and T-Mobile

As it’s been well documented, there are many challenges when it comes to raising capital, especially for women and minorities and especially in the early stages of a startup.

I’ve overcome this by funding my company’s growth through mega-partnerships with global giants including Facebook Oculus, Universal Music, T-Mobile, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. Solving problems facing major companies with your startup is an avenue for funding growth for consumer-facing startups, not just enterprise applications. I do not suggest it completely replaces raising capital, rather mega-partnerships can provide the runway needed to keep your company growing and the traction to attract additional investors.

My company CEEK VR is an award-winning streaming service for virtual events and experiences featuring the biggest names in entertainment. We help live events and music artists generate revenue by extending their reach across multiple devices, including virtual reality headsets, gaming consoles, mobile, desktop, tablet and Smart TVs. CEEK records content usage on the blockchain and automatic rights owner payments via smart contracts. CEEK features exclusive Virtual Reality and livestreams from mega-stars like Bon Jovi, U2, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, DL Hughley, Ziggy Marley and more.

What is the problem CEEK is solving? The global music industry is worth $50 billion, live music performances making up over 50% of the total revenues. Artists make most of their earnings through touring, but travel costs, limited capacity, fan availability and tour production costs are some of the factors that prevent them from maximizing revenues.

Adele did a show at Madison Square Garden where 10 million fans tried to buy the 100,000 tickets available. CEEK was created to help artists like Adele sell virtual tickets to the 99% of her fans who couldn’t attend the show. Guns n’ Roses sold 1 million tickets in 24 hours; they can’t physically add any more locations, but with the Guns n’ Roses show on, fans can virtually be there. We help real events generate revenue virtually.

Sounds great, so what’s the problem? Music fans enjoy the energy of live events which can be partly replicated with social viewing, particularly within VR environments. Creating content for multiple VR headsets has various complexities that make it difficult for content creators to easily reach their audience. That’s where CEEK comes in.

CEEK offers an integrated solution that makes it super simple for performers to sell virtual tickets and reach their fans easily on a variety of devices. Think of CEEK as “Ticketmaster” for the Virtual World, with each device being a digital venue.

Award-winning Comedian DL Hughley compares how professionals monetize their virtual events with compared to how amateurs struggle with free sites.

Why is now the best time for CEEK to be solving this problem? Touring is the financial engine of the music business. Live music makes up more than 50% of the global Music industry, so where does a global multi-billion-dollar industry go when they cannot do shows? They come to CEEK.

Right now, there’s no way for most artists to sell tickets physically. Virtual tickets are now the default option for most events. For Bob Marley’s 75th anniversary, we teamed up with Ziggy Marley to do a celebration concert through CEEK. The Virtual concert garnered over 10 million views collectively. It is the #1 livestream on Facebook.

We’ve been able to garner mega-partnerships because CEEK is an eco-system enabler for the rapid adoption of virtual reality by mainstream audiences.

We’ve built key tools for the music industry that competitors don’t offer, such as content usage tracking on the blockchain for transparency, multi-channel distribution of content, efficiency in administering entitlements and automatic publisher payments via smart contracts.

Traditionally, consumer-facing brands need to raise a lot of capital in order to get enough traction to hit network effects. CEEK’s primary distribution strategy has been through leveraging the built-in audience of our partners.

The mission of the CEEK platform from the very beginning was to bring value to artists and labels. Particularly those most affected by current solutions that don’t favor them.

The process for attracting major partnerships is first understanding the value you can offer and cultivating the relationships. Getting meetings with brands starts with your network. I find that the best way for early-stage startup to gain traction with big companies is through people you know, who can help get your product in front of decision makers. These champions can help you polish your presentation, and also open the right doors. Granted, once you’re in you will be judged purely by the value of your work.

We were able to land the meeting with Apple because, they were looking for a means to enable VR for iPod owners. We developed the solution and presented it to them during the first meeting. We also showed them a means to extend their reach to Android users, who make up 65% of our platform.

In order to get organizations to take the time with you and to pilot things, make sure you can help them solve a pain point. Innovation is about solving problems. Whether you’re B2C or B2B you should be able to solve a problem at an enterprise level. The best part about fund growth through mega-partnerships is the feedback you get for your product, market validation and traction.

Don’t wait till your product is perfect to present it — often if your interests are aligned, companies will be more open to helping you shape your product to suit the market. Be patient, but persistent. Giants tend to be very slow moving.

Mary Spio is the Founder & CEO of CEEK VR, a Deep Space Engineer with multiple AWARDED patents; Spio has created content solutions and technologies for global titans such as Universal Music, Miami Children’s Hospital, Microsoft XBOX, Facebook, Clear Channel and Boeing. Mary is on the Board of Facebook’s Oculus VR for Good and Amazon’s Launchpad. Spio is also a scientific reviewer for the United States Department of Defense (DOD). Spio served in the United States Air Force.

Meet Mary and learn more about CEEK’s approach to fundraising in Startup Grind’s latest Founder Series interview.




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