VSaaS Startup Pivots to Camera API Provider EvercamBy: John Honovich, Published on Jul 24, 2014
This is a fascinating case study of how a VSaaS startup recognized the flaws in that market and are using their experience to build a hosted API camera API service called Evercam.
In this note, we examine what they learned providing VSaaS and what they are trying to do now with their API service.
In 2010, the company started Camba.tv, a European based VSaaS provider, that worked with 3rd party cameras and sold monthly hosted recording services.
In 2013, they launched Evercam with the promise of "We make it easier to write software for cameras."
A Camera API
Evercam acts as an adapter between various IP cameras, mobile phones, DVRs, etc. and software applications (e.g., Ruby, Python, .NET, etc.). Evercam supports retrieving / requesting snapshots images from those devices but not video. The company has developed integrations with a variety of devices for logging in and getting snapshots.
Its two main upsides versus ONVIF are:
- Evercam actively works to develop integrations even with devices that have no interest adding ONVIF, especially older devices or phones that likely will never add ONVIF.
- Evercam provides a typical REST API that developers can use quickly. One could develop their own using the ONVIF standard but there is no readily available web application module that does this.
However, ONVIF has more advanced support including streaming video, camera control and configuration, etc.
Dealing With Firewalls / Routers
One major challenge with their API is that cameras are frequently behind firewalls and cannot be immediately accessed from the public Internet including Evercam's service. This can be solved by port forwarding, opening holes in firewalls but this typically requires skilled technical support to accomplish. As such, Evercam's service will be limited to those cameras that do not have this issue or those that can be resolved.
Applications for Evercam API
Evercam is targeting two areas:
- Custom Applications
- Ready Made Apps
With custom applications, existing businesses can add images from cameras by integrating the Evercam API. For example, when a certain event happens (like an alarm or an object goes on scale), an image can be taken. Alternatively, at specific times (like when a store opens or during lunctime at a restaurant), an image can be taken. Evercam mentioned one healthcare client that uses Evercam to get images from their user's homes to verify patient's health / status. In this application, the healthcare company can ensure that the cameras have access / ability to connect to the cloud.
Custom application users pay Evercam based on number of total requests to Evercam's API.
Additionally, Evercam is building apps that use their API. The most interesting one for professional users is a timelapse app (astimegoes.by) that uses the Evercam API to request and build a recorded video. Here is an example output timelapse video. Like the Apple app store, Evercam aims to foster a marketplace where apps are sold and they take a cut of the proceeds.
Lessons Learned from Their VSaaS Offering
Evercam says they are shutting down their VSaaS, Camba.tv, by the end of 2014. Key problems they found were (1) high support costs and (2) competitive lower cost traditional options of getting cameras online.
They expressed admiration for Dropcam's approach, specifically developing and providing their own cameras, which lowers support costs and makes integration easier. On the other hand, they mentioned the significant resources needed to do that (i.e., Dropcam raised ~$50 million).
Now, Evercam is looking for a niche that no one has targeted yet. The main question is whether they can find sufficient applications that can utilize their camera API.
Addendum - Evercam Pitches TechCrunch
For those who want to see their marketing pitch - very high level since its for TechCrunch:
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