The Bulgarian startup scene is highly saturated with startups of all kinds, sizes and stages of development. Many of them don’t live long to see their exit strategies, however there are the ones on the straight path to success.
One such startup is Stremio – a company providing an online entertainment platform that allows its users to easily create, organize and watch collections of movies, TV and web series, online video channels and live television.
From zero to funding in just one year
The idea for Stremio was born in 2013 and evolved to the alpha version of the app that was launched in June 2015. The project was launched by the software engineer Ivo Georgiev and the UI/UX designer Dimo Stoyanov, both of whom have extensive experience in software development and startup management.
Within a mere year, Stremio has managed to build a customer base of more than 2 million users. To date, the business is valued at $5.5 million, and has secured a $500,000 investment from the Chinese company Bitmain Tech.
The idea for a platform that aggregates entertainment naturally follows the evolution of how we consume online content. Video on demand (VOD) providers such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and even YouTube upload hundreds and hundreds of hours of entertainment every day (currently, YouTube alone has more than 1.3 billion users who consume approximately 5 billion videos daily). This is why a niche for a content aggregator opens up on the market and Stremio emerges to fill it.
Of course, the company is not running unopposed: Stremio’s strongest market competitor is perhaps the Popcorn Time platform, which has gone through some turbulent times in the past couple of years. While operating on a similar principle, Popcorn Time has one major flaw: it broadcasts illegal content – as do most other online streaming services available today.
This is where Stremio gets an edge: the service frowns upon piracy and does not officially offer torrent streaming or unlicensed content in order to avoid any copyright infringement and keep things clean.
How does Stremio work
The Stremio app operates on the basis of add-ons developed by official content producers/distributors or third parties. Currently, the application users can stream content from a number of sources like YouTube, Netflix, GuideBox, Filmon.tv, Twitch.tv, etc. With some of these services being aggregators themselves, the range of content available to Stremio’s clients is basically unlimited.
All this comes wrapped in a simple-to-use, intuitive software that makes it easy to sort out the available media and organize it in a personalized library with just a few clicks.
Stremio comes with the basic features you would expect from an entertainment platform – it has a rich catalog of titles, offers recommendations based on preferences and geographical locations, shows notifications about new content, supports multi-lingual subtitles, and much more.
Here are the things I particularly like:
- You can watch on mobile devices or on your TV through DLNA, Chromecast or Apple TV. As a 13-inch computer user, I do appreciate the option to enjoy my favourite media on a larger TV screen, and with the mobile compatibility you stay entertained while on the go. The Stremio team promises that the service will soon be available through browsers as well, which fully covers any device you may own.
- The platform has an integrated calendar so you can keep track of new releases.
- Movie trailers are available within the app to make choosing what to watch easily.
- You can import content from your local hard drive or Facebook profile.
- Any piece of content in your library can be shared straight on social media or through a share link.
- It is up to you to set the app’s cache (the options are 2, 5 and 10 GB or no caching at all) – and this is something that anyone with a small HDD (a Mac user for example) can truly appreciate.
- The app is integrated with VLC player so you can choose whether to stream through the player or the Stremio app itself.
- The “Auto-play next episode” functionality is perfect for binge-watching.
- There are no ads shown on YouTube content (Hallelujah!).
- The Stremio team plans to introduce new, unique features in the near future; one of them is Stremio Circle – a plug-and-play device that allows you to get Stremio on your TV via an HDMI port.
Is Stremio here to stay
The short answer is: yes.
Stremio taps into a market with a huge demand – in 2016 alone the VOD market amounts to $18,346.3 million, forecasted to reach $29,302 million by 2020.
Furthermore, video traffic will be accounting for 82% of all consumer internet traffic, as a recent study published by Cisco predicts. “It would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020,” the white paper foresees.
Based on this trend, the average VOD consumer already has a hard time sifting through all this content and curating it in a meaningful way – and this task will only get harder from here on. This is why the market has a desperate need of technological innovation designed to make people’s interaction with media more pleasant, hassle-free and gratifying.
Stremio’s service is intuitive and offers a flawless and enjoyable experience, and that’s pretty much everything users are looking for in their interaction with video content. The technology behind the platform appears to be quite decent and in my experience the app demonstrates stable performance.
Stremio is a partially open-source platform that enables anyone to develop an add-on. This means that the number of add-ons the platform can integrate is virtually unlimited, and the media streaming sources can never dry out.
With the market demand and technology to satisfy it in place, there comes the matter of business sustainability. In order to supply the required video content, broadcasters such as YouTube, iTunes, or Netflix for example must support a monstrous, challenging and very expensive server infrastructure.
Being a middleman, Stremio’s technological requirements are much more modest and easier to support.
On top of that, the company is based in Bulgaria – a country where operational costs are significantly lower than in the USA or Central Europe for example – which is another prerequisite for the business’ sustainability in terms of cost-efficient growth.
The company targets high-solvency markets – USA, Canada and Western Europe, as well as emerging audiences with a high interest in video streaming such as Brazil and Argentina. If Stremio manages to maintain and increase its penetration rates in these areas, the company will quickly reach its breakeven point and begin generating a steady revenue flow. This will likely attract an even bigger interest from investors looking for profitable business opportunities.
The concept behind Stremio is solid, and the service solves an actual problem almost any online user experiences – i.e. how to navigate the colossal amount of content that we face and create a meaningful video library synced across various devices. Of course, there is room for improvement but the Stremio team seems to be busy at work constantly enhancing and polishing the service. Judging by what I have seen so far, the platform has the potential not just to become the next content aggregator but to turn into the only entertainment platform a user needs.
I will definitely keep my eye on Stremio to see how the business develops and grows in the future.