Signagelive came to life as a name (with the obligatory available .com domain) for a very early web-based digital signage solution we created for Camelot in 2007 to manage 2,000 screens across 1,370 locations for the National Lottery in the UK.
But let’s wind back to the beginning of the journey that has brought us to where we are today with teams across the globe serving customers in 89 countries to ensure their digital signage runs optimally every day.
After leaving school in 1986 (before taking my A-levels), I joined a fledgling software company that solved excessive paperwork and manual delivery scheduling for road haulage companies. After 9 years with the company, including 18 months in Liverpool setting up a Northern office at 19 and running a small sales and support team, I was after a new challenge.
While at the road haulage software business, I looked at options to add a digital angle to our trade shows and marketing. While browsing Computer Weekly, I saw an advertisement for a multimedia authoring software product called ‘Picturebook’. Picturebook enabled interactive multimedia experiences to be created and published on 3.5” Floppy Disks, Computers and Laserdisc Players controlled by very early CRT-based touchscreens. For those old enough, Picture Book pre-dated Macromedia Director; it was very much ahead of the multimedia design software curve.
We used Picturebook at the Road Haulage software company to create and send out floppy disc presentations and build touchscreen demonstrations for trade shows. I was intrigued by the possibilities that Picturebook offered. After speaking with the lead developer, an opportunity opened to purchase the software from the publisher, as they focused on pre-Internet electronic publishing.
A modest investment later, I was the co-owner of Picturebook and a silent partner in a new business, Connect Interactive, which was formed in 1995.
Connect Interactive consisted of my then co-founder as the developer and creator of the Picturebook-authored media solutions, Eloise, my wife, who joined us to ensure all of our accounting and administration was in top order, and me. We picked up some good customers, including Mercedes Benz, ABB and The Metropolitan Police, London.
To gain broader commercial experience, I moved from the Road Haulage software company to an industrial printing solution distributor who sold products from Printronix, Zebra and others. This provided me with formal training in sales and experience in winning and managing significant deals with the likes of Ford Motor Company, Vauxhall Motors and Great Universal Stores.
After two years, when I was National Sales Manager, and with total backing and support from Eloise, I took the plunge to collect my last paycheck from an employer. I joined my then co-founder full-time with only three months’ salary as a buffer, a young family and a brand new four-bedroom house, which kept my mind laser-focused on selling and being successful.
In the ten years from 1997 to 2007, we grew Connect Interactive to a small team and added web development capabilities to our offering with a specific focus on data-driven websites. During this period in 2000, we were approached by and brought into the fold two private investors, one of whom we had worked with on a successful recent project; both are our sole investors and remain highly supportive, active and an integral part of our past, present and future success.
Bringing investment into the business enabled us to explore various business options to expand the business, which went through a name change to Remote Media* to represent better what we were delivering as customer solutions.
Working with Lunn Poly, the former UK name of what is now TUI, we developed our first digital signage software solution. The solution consisted of a simple FTP (File Transfer Protocol) transfer and playback for images and videos, replacing printed posters in travel agents with 32” portrait LCD displays with PCs within an A0 size poster cabinet.
In early 2007 we became aware of a Request for Proposal (RFP) that Camelot UK was issuing for small 10” media displays that would be mounted to the existing scratch card dispensers in 2,000 supermarkets and convenience stores across the UK. There had been a successful trial with an incumbent digital signage provider, but Camelot wished to go to the market to see what other solutions were available.
We submitted a proposal that included everything required to deliver a turnkey solution for Camelot. This included; a custom 10” display and housing with an integrated Windows CE media player, ISDN (later ADSL) connectivity to Camelot’s network, custom chrome mounts to match the scratch card dispenser, installation and maintenance, and a software platform to manage the estate of displays including device monitoring and media management.
We won the seven-figure three-year contract, beating the incumbent supplier and several well-known consultancy firms and IT providers. This represented a pivotal moment for our business as we assembled a team to develop and support the project.
Marc Benson (our now CTO) and Ian Maison, our Technical Services Director, joined us within months of each other, and we set about building and delivering the solution to a sixteen-week timescale with penalties for late delivery, which we needed to avoid.
A second pivotal moment was when Camelot decided they wanted us to host the software solution due to the financial sensitivity of the information stored in their data centre. We selected Rackspace UK (Cloud-hosting was not available or viable then) and set about creating a single-tenant software solution for Camelot.
The project was a success, we delivered on time, avoiding penalties, and we had 2,000 displays operational with many foundational features that remain key to our digital signage software today.
But what next? We decided to use the Camelot win as the catalyst for change, moving away from our general multimedia and web solutions business to a web-based (pre-Cloud) multi-tenant digital signage software provider.
But what name shall we use? As mentioned in my opening comments, I came up with Signagelive, and despite several other suggestions and options being considered, the name stuck, and Signagelive was born. We also decided to change the company name (again) from Remote Media to Signagelive so that the company and product names were identical.
Another critical decision was to scale globally; we would sell exclusively through distributors and resellers (as we do today) and work with third-party hardware companies to support their devices (and, ultimately, SoC displays), providing our channel partners and customers with flexibility and choice.
17 years on, and with Eloise by my side as Head of Finance, we are a global team of 60 (with current openings filled); we are profitable and have market-aligned double-digit year-on-year growth.
We remain as passionate now as we were in 2007 about delivering; scalable and feature-rich digital signage software that meets the needs of organisations and enterprises where the security of the solution and stability of the company are the primary factors they are looking for when selecting a digital signage platform and partner.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how Signagelive came to be; if you have any questions or comments or are looking for advice, please get in touch, and I will be happy to help.
All the best, Jason
Founder / CEO @ Signagelive
*Remote Media was retained as Remote Media Group is the holding company that owns 100% of the shares in Signagelive Limited (UK), Signagelive Aps. (Denmark), Signagelive Inc. (USA), Signagelive Pte. (Singapore), Signagelive Pty. (Australia).
**Signagelive is a global trademark