A Q&A with Perch co-founder and CEO Danny Robinson. The Vancouver–based company was founded in 2012 and closed a $1 million Seed funding round in early-December.
SUB: Please describe Perch and your value proposition.
Robinson: Perch is the first hands-free video communication app designed to bring you closer to your family regardless of where you are. Using ambient video to help you take back the moments you used to miss, Perch is the easiest way to stay connected with your family when you’re not at home.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Robinson: Right now we’re focusing mainly on families and people who spend a lot of time away from each other. Perch will always be free for family use.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition? What differentiates Perch from the competition?
Robinson: There really aren’t many companies doing exactly what Perch does in terms of always-on video communication. DropCam is great for security and is also always on, but it’s designed to be a spy camera, whereas Perch uses front facing screens to create a friendly, inviting experience where you can easily communicate hands-free with anyone in your Perch network. There are other social networking apps that can send video, but they can’t retain users because these apps are either locked to one platform, or closed in some other way. Path with 100 users, Pair with just your wife or girlfriend, etc.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Robinson: Perch was founded May 1, 2012, as a way to seamlessly connect people who were away from each other. The first thing we did was hire some awesome coders to help build some prototypes and get them in front of would-be users to get their feedback.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Perch? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Robinson: The inspiration behind Perch stemmed out of an app called Redhand. Redhand was an app the Perch team built to detect motion in an area, record it, and send a notification from that iOS device to another on the same Redhand account. It was basically an extremely smart security camera. The ‘aha’ moment came for Perch when I had Redhand set up in my house. I noticed I wasn’t seeing bad guys being recorded Redhand, just my family. Not only were my family the stars in my Redhand experience, they were also trying to communicate through Redhand. At one point my daughter, Emma, came home from school and ran up to Redhand to show me her report card. She chose to use Redhand before thinking about SMS, phone or email because she knew I would see it. It was at this point that we realized Redhand wasn’t enough—we needed to be able to reply to these videos and start a serendipitous conversation. Perch was born.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Robinson: Naming a company is always hard and it was no different with Perch. We spent a few days ‘namestorming’ before we came up with Perch. We wanted to find a name that was both friendly and relevant to what we were doing. Maura Rodgers, Danny’s wife, and co-founder of Strutta.com—which she also named—came up with the name Perch in one of these namestorming sessions.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Robinson: Recruiting talent. Finding the right people with adequate skills that suit your startup’s culture is extremely difficult, especially when it comes to finding developers. We’re on the lookout for great Ruby, Computer Vision and iOS developers right now.
SUB: You recently raised $1 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Robinson: Hire a crack team of developers to take Perch to its full potential. What we have in the app now is just the start of where we’re taking Perch.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Robinson: The Perch team was able to hit some key milestones which massively de-risked the company and increased the value. We needed an infusion of cash to hit our next value bump, and investors were excited. We decided to capitalize on all these events now.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Robinson: Our business model is under a pretty tight lid right now. We’re not trying to dodge the question, but unlike many, we do have a great business model planned out, but we feel it’s unique and very innovative.
SUB: What are your goals for Perch over the next year or so?
Robinson: We don’t like to comment on future releases, but it’s safe to say that we want to offer Perch on Android sooner than later.
We can’t predict a year out, and we don’t want to either. Part of creating something new and unique is that we don’t know how people will use it. We would be foolish to think we knew what our customers wanted. I imagine, and hope, that a year from now, Perch will be something we didn’t expect.
Perch – www.perch.co