Disruptel gets seed funding for content-driven voice assistant

Friday, March 12th, 2021
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Disruptel Announces $1.5 Million Seed Round to Further Develop Transformative Connected TV Viewer Experience

  • The company’s new voice assistant and AI solutions for TV and CTV will help OTT providers build audience and ARPU
  • Company is backed by PJC, Progress Ventures, and notable industry veterans including Mike Baker, co-founder and CEO of DataXu, and Adam Cheyer, co-founder of Siri

ST. LOUIS — Disruptel, the interactive TV and voice assistant innovator changing the way consumers interact with their connected televisions, today announced the completion of a $1.15 million seed funding round. PJC and Progress Ventures led the round, with the backing of notable industry investors and advisors including Mike Baker, co-founder and former CEO of DataXu (acquired by Roku in 2019), Adam Cheyer, voice assistant expert and co-founder of Siri, Andrew Olson, a senior technology executive instrumental in developing both Xfinity TV in the US and Sky Q in Europe, Bill Simmons, co-founder of DataXu, as well as other high-profile streaming video executives. The funding will be used to enhance and scale the company’s Context and Smart Screen products in the market.

Founded in 2017, St. Louis-based Disruptel develops artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that process video content in real-time. The company’s flagship product, Context, allows users to ask questions about the content on their Connected TVs through their remote control and receive immediate answers, including information regarding the people and items on-screen. Context also allows users to purchase video on demand and other products related to on-screen content without the need for a second device.

Adam Cheyer, voice assistant expert and co-founder of Siri and Viv Labs (acquired by Samsung) commented, “Disruptel has created a unique experience that TV-watching audiences can’t live without. Once you’re accustomed to asking questions about the moment you are seeing on the screen, any other experience feels like a TV from a hundred years ago. This will have dramatic implications for both viewers and content providers alike.”

As mobile devices become a fixture in every American home, the majority of consumers use a smartphone or tablet—a second screen—while simultaneously watching TV on linear and OTT channels. According to recent data from Nielsen, 88% of Americans use a second digital device while watching TV, and 71% look up content related to content they are watching. At the same time, TV viewership, particularly among younger audiences, has declined precipitously, with their viewing time now less than 40% of the average adult’s. Disruptel’s AI-based products remove the middleman by allowing consumers to interact directly with their Smart TV, providing instant engagement and answers without the need to preprocess videos. This functionality is particularly beneficial for content creators and distributors who are seeking to more deeply engage and monetize their viewers.

With connected TV consumption continuing to explode, content distributors now have new opportunities to better monetize their content by providing viewers with non-intrusive personalized offers in the moment. “As ad-supported streaming services like Hulu have shown, the TV industry must innovate the ad experience to scale audience and ARPU. Disruptel’s solutions will enable FAST/AVOD programmers and platforms to grow ARPU while minimizing the viewer interruptions that come with traditional TV ads that also drive churn,” said Nick MacShane of Progress Ventures. “Viewers can discover similar content of interest, presenting the opportunity for programmers to upsell audiences to paid VOD and increase overall viewing time.”

“I created Disruptel to make the TV viewing experience better for me and for my friends,” said Alex Quinn, CEO of Disruptel. “Like most Gen Z viewers, I think smart TVs are not as smart as they should be. We were never given the truly smart and interactive TV we were promised, so we are creating it ourselves. Our products improve the viewing experience while also creating new revenue streams for our content partners through non-intrusive advertising.”