'StreamMe' Wins Law School Round of UVA Entrepreneurship Competition
A streaming video portal called "StreamMe" that was dreamed up by two University of Virginia graduate students won first place Monday in the Virginia Law Entrepreneurial Concept Competition, the Law School round of UVA's annual university-wide business concept competition.
"StreamMe is a single portal for all of the digital libraries that a customer has access to, or would like to have access to — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go," said Billy DuVal, a second-year J.D.-M.B.A. student at UVA Law and UVA's Darden School of Business. "If you're looking for a particular movie or TV show, [StreamMe] will search those libraries for you so you don't have to keep logging into all the different services to check if you have access to it."
The concept of StreamMe — envisioned by DuVal and his teammate, Darden student Ari Greenberg — beat out eleven other business ideas in the Law School competition. DuVal and Greenberg won a $2,000 prize and will advance to compete as one of nine teams from across UVA in the Entrepreneurship Cup on Nov. 22.
The winning team or individual in the E-Cup competition will take home $20,000, with the second-place finisher receiving $10,000 and two honorable mentions each receiving $5,000. All of the prize money was donated by event sponsor Third Security LLC.
A panel of UVA Law alumni — Russell Schundler '01, Andrew Lockhart '10 and Steven Ryan '13 — judged the initial round of the Law School competition, while UVA law professor Michal Barzuza; Rob Masri '96, founder of Cardagin Networks Inc.; Douglas Muir of Muir & Associates Inc., and Brian Knight '06, co-founder and director of platform services of CrowdCheck, judged the finals.
"William and Ari's presentation really stood out," said Eric Glickman, president of the Law School chapter of the Virginia Entrepreneurial Society. "Professor Muir, who teaches a course on presentations, said that theirs could not have been any better."
Last year, the Law School round of the contest was won by a team of three UVA law students who created a company called BambuBox that shipped subscribers a box of samples of new natural and organic products. A year earlier, a team of three UVA Law students won $5,000 and an honorable mention in the final round of the E Cup for their invention of a "partially evacuated solar still" that was designed to provide clean drinking water in developing countries.
The idea for StreamMe comes as the growth in streaming movies and TV shows continues to explode, and the number of streaming platforms continues to grow.
"Five years ago, there was just Netflix. Now there's Netflix, Hulu, Vudu. And that number's not going to slow down," Greenberg said. "They're going to keep coming out with more and more of these platforms, which is only going to increase the amount of pain for the customer."
StreamMe, he said, is poised to take advantage of that pain of having to sift through multiple platforms to find content.
"As that pain grows, it's eventually going to consolidate into one site and it's going be like 'OK, where can I get X?'" he said. "It becomes less important whether I can get it from Netflix or Hulu, and it becomes more important that I can find it."
StreamMe aims to generate revenue from "referral bounties," DuVal said. If, for example, a customer searches StreamMe for a movie and finds that it is on Netflix, StreamMe would receive a portion of the revenue if the customer then subscribed to Netflix, he said.
"If you don't feel like subscribing to a new service, [StreamMe] would tell you the cheapest place where you could rent or buy that movie, and then pass through and take a piece of the revenue generated," he said.
Additionally, DuVal said, StreamMe has the potential to collect valuable user data, which could benefit both the users and content providers.
"On the consumer side, you get to understand how much your media library overlaps and empowers you to make decisions on what subscriptions to add and drop," he said. "On the content provider side, Netflix is going to want to know if their subscribers are searching for movies that they don't have, and then going out and signing up for a different service."
DuVal and Greenberg said they hope to develop a minimal viable version of StreamMe within the next six months to a year. So far, they said, UVA's entrepreneurship competition has helped them hone their concept.
"Seeing the reaction that we're getting from judges and other people, I think we're seeing that this has real potential," DuVal said. "[The next steps are] certainly exploring it further and seeing what are the major hurdles, and what sort of investment would be needed."