Cox Business is in the business of helping people out. The internet and cable service provider provides special services to help small businesses succeed in a world that seems dominated by mega corporations.
For two years the company has hosted a competition to find a local start-up with the savviest business plan. This savvy company then receives a Cox Business package valued over $12,500. It includes one year of business services from Cox Business, $5,000 cash, video production and consultative services from Cox Media. The Get Started Gainesville competition, aptly held at the Champions Club at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, helps bring attention to a rising business in the community while lending a helping hand. The winning business can get the starting push it needs by using Cox Business amenities, and Cox Business retains a new client.
The five finalists receive invaluable advice from a star-studded panel featuring Susan Davenport, president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, and other business leaders in Gainesville. The judges then select a winner based on several specific grading criteria: innovation, ease of implementation and consumer or community benefit.
“Get Started Gainesville is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to get valuable pointers and feedback regarding their business plan and product,” said Harbin Bolton, vice president of Cox Business in Florida and Georgia. “We had an outstanding group of businesses in the competition this year. It’s exciting to see that level of talent in Gainesville, and we look forward to great things from all five companies.”
The panelists for this event included Patti Breedlove, Susan Davenport, Duncan Kabinu and Kevin T. Sheilley
The competition aims to help more than just the winners. Everyone is encouraged to attend the event to network and learn how to secure funding and attract the attention of the right influencers from accomplished leaders in established business sectors.
The October 2016 competition awarded Dycap Media Solutions as the victor. The company develops software that uses facial recognition in order to automate cameras. Armand Sepulveda, Dycap’s CEO and founder, says the technology unleashes the potential to produce more video content by making cameras easier to use and faster at capturing moving subjects. Sepulveda thought the competition was “rewarding and gratifying, and [they] were excited to be there.” Dycap will be using the prize money to send Sepulveda around the country to meet with regional channel partners, speak with national distributors, and discuss implementing new technology into pan tilt zoom camera manufacturers such as Canon, Sony and Nikon.
The Dycap software works with facial motion and edge recognition and tracking. The software gets rid of the necessity for a manual operator, and makes the daunting task of camera operation much simpler through automation. An individual gets recognized on camera, and the software intelligently controls the camera to smoothly follow that individual.
While this does raise the concerning question of the possibility of human replacement, Sepulveda points out it has nothing to do with human talent. Rather than thinking of this software as a replacement for humans, Sepulveda says Dycap wants people to understand it’s more accurate to view the software as a supplement to human camera operators. As Sepulveda kindly explains, “The limiting factor was the cameraman — there aren’t enough cameramen in the world. Dycap lets a camera become more valuable to people, by letting more video content be produced.” Essentially, the software can capture moments a camera operator can’t always get in time.
In 2015, Dycap Media Solutions was not selected to showcase at the competition. The company worked hard within the span of eight months to ready their vision and product for Get Started 2016. “A year later with a lot more confidence, a lot more traction, we felt very strongly that we would get in,” said Sepulveda. “Communicating with the entrepreneurial community in a great venue is a once in a lifetime experience.” Sepulveda recognizes that Dycap always stands to learn more just from the advice experts at the competition can offer.
Sepulveda insists Dycap would be nowhere without Nola Miyasaki, executive director at the Gator Hatchery. The Gator Hatchery, run by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Bryan Hall at UF, is a student incubator that offers student entrepreneurs all the necessary resources for a startup to succeed. Students can make use of available office space, peer-to-peer networking and free legal advice from UF Entrepreneurship Law Clinic.
As Sepulveda recalls, “Three months before joining [the Gator Hatchery], I was running around in circles not knowing what to do.” UF gave Sepulveda the mentors and tools he needed to assemble the right people and move Dycap in the right direction.
The company began with a different name and vision, but after eight months of meeting with mentors Dycap refocused. Originally, the focus was on camera hardware. Now, Dycap Media Solutions is a company with intelligent software. “The software is where we shine, it’s our bread and butter,” says Sepulveda.
Sepulveda sees schools benefitting from this technology. Cameras can be set to capture lectures to stream online for wider audiences. Businesses, too, can use the technology to capture seminars, smoothly enable video conferences, or seamlessly record and broadcast award ceremonies. Dycap is also trying to tap into the markets for houses of worship.
Dycap Media Solutions has a long term plan of eventually integrating with camera manufacturers directly. Instead of selling software as a bundle, it will be a part of the camera technology. The idea is to automate all pan tilt zoom cameras using Dycap software wherever an operator might be needed. They’re capturing the smaller markets now, but Sepulveda is looking ahead to a future of broadcast markets, followed by partnering with security markets, and then hopefully one day Dycap will be a part of virtual reality.
Dycap Media Solutions has already benefitted greatly from Get Started Gainesville 2016. Dycap plans to use the prize money to travel the country in order to form partnerships and meet distributors. Sepulveda is also grateful for the exposure Dycap has received from the competition and the services Dycap will be receiving over the next year from Cox Business.
NICOLLE BUCHBINDER is a linguistics major at the University of Florida. You can usually find her at a $5 movie bin or any Viet joint, spilling food everywhere. She hopes to figure out her life before graduation, but in the meantime, she’ll settle for listening to her growing record collection or complaining about the humidity.