About 18 months ago, a couple of employees who had worked on the livestreaming service for France’s DailyMotion had an idea: The time is right to make a version of this for people’s smartphones.
And even last week, as the soft launch of NomadCast was accelerating, Facebook announced Facebook Live, its livestreaming service just for celebs (at least for now).
The problem: NomadCast was unable to raise any money from French venture capitalists. Had the company been able to raise a seed round, it could have hired more developers and gotten the product out the door months ago.
The founders didn’t need much. Maybe just $500,000 or a $1 million. You know, the kind of spare change Silicon Valley VCs carry around in their pockets to hand out at cocktail parties.
That lack of speed, caused in part by a shortage of VC money in France, is something I hear entrepreneurs complain about constantly.
“That’s the really frustrating part,” said Timothée Le Borgne, chief executive of NomadCast. “It’s really, really complicated to get VCs excited about B2C businesses in France. If someone could have given us the money so we could have been a bigger team, we would have been much more efficient.”
Of course, lots of entrepreneurs can’t raise money, and the bar should be high. But with the track record at DailyMotion, and the fact that many people saw livestreaming from mobile as ripe for innovation, one would think somebody would have been willing to give NomadCast at least a little backing.
Meerkat raised $14 million after its launch this year. And Twitter bought Periscope before it launched for an undisclosed sum back in January.
[Incidentally, Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin will be speaking at GrowthBeat, our event in SF next week focused solely on the strategies and technologies companies must use to grow quickly.]
Despite its less-than-ideal timing, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about NomadCast’s future and what it says about French entrepreneurs. Despite the lack of funding, the team still managed to build a robust livestreaming app that matches and exceeds, in some cases, the quality and features of its better-funded competitors.
Indeed, that quality has already turned some heads. With the beta version available earlier this year, the company visited Silicon Valley where, Le Borgne said, the company received an acquisition offer of more than $10 million from what he described as “one of the big guys.”
And La Borgne said he’ll start making the rounds again in September to raise some venture capital. In that weird way that tech sometimes works, now that there are multiple companies in the market, it has become easier for some investors to understand the potential — and the challenges.
Now that NomadCast is available in the Apple App Store, without any marketing, it has already grabbed 1,000 users. It has also partnered with several French newspapers who are using it for coverage of breaking news. And Kev Adams, one of France’s most popular comedians, has used it a few times.
Indeed, it’s possible that NomadCast still has some advantages over the competition.
After Meerkat and Periscope launched for people to broadcast on Twitter, NomadCast shifted a bit to focus more on Facebook (though Meerkat can also now be used on Facebook).
But in fact, NomadCast lets you livestream to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, and it pulls comments from people on both platforms into the app while you’re streaming. Also, NomadCast is optimized for shooting horizontal video, whereas some competitors are focused on vertical video.
In addition, NomadCast archives the recordings indefinitely so they can be viewed well after the livestream ends. Because NomadCast keeps the video archived for you directly to the cloud rather than on your phone, you can use the app to shoot quick, private videos that won’t use all the storage on your phone.
So far, NomadCast users have produced 3,000 streams and 5,035 hours of video. In a few weeks, the company plans to make a bigger marketing push and start more aggressively trying to acquire users.
Whether NomadCast sells, or raises a round, it has still managed to demonstrate how far the French startup scene has come. And how far it still has to go if it wants to compete on a regular basis with Silicon Valley.