Start-up of the Week / A Video Service That Fits the Bill

SundaySky transforms getting a monthly bill from a head-scratching experience into an easy-to-understand video.

Getting your monthly cell phone, cable TV or insurance bill can be off-putting or just plain confusing – that's why Israeli start-up SundaySky is trying to change that.

“We’re in the SmartVideo field – we provide personalized video in real time that creates not only an experience, but business value too,” says CTO Yaniv Axen, one of the two founders of SundaySky.

SundaySky’s best-known and most intuitive product is the videobill – as its name suggests, it translates customers’ monthly bills into a brief, personalized video that explains all the charges to the customer. Large companies such as Verizon Communications, Comcast Corporation, Cox Communications and now AT&T have signed on for it. In Israel, Partner Communications offers the service.

“AT&T has been working with us for more than 18 months as part of its cooperation with Amdocs, which manages their billing," says Axen. "When Amdocs showed our product to AT&T, they got excited about it. After we did a long proof of concept, they decided to go with us. The experiment we started in May shows that 80 percent of viewers watch the video – which is two to three minutes long – in its entirety. Eighty-five percent are pleased with it and would recommend the service to a friend. For AT&T, that means making the experience of getting your bill, which isn’t much fun, more pleasant. Customers who used the service also made fewer clarification calls to customer support, and they’re likely to buy additional services too.”

SundaySky also offers advertising services. "Ads are changing a lot these days," says Axen. "Until now, video ads on the Internet were identical to ads on TV. But on the Internet, companies have the option of advertising one-to-one instead of one-to-many. If a customer of Office Depot is surfing and looks at a certain product, we know how to create a personal ad for him and show it before the YouTube video.”

And yes, Office Depot is one of SundaySky’s clients – along with Sears, Lenovo and AIG, to name just a few. “We concentrate mostly on the American market, and we work in four main areas: telecommunications, retail, travel and financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies. Our targets are Fortune 500 companies in those fields,” Axen says.

SundaySky creates the personalized video the moment the customer clicks on the link. The company, which has already registered several patents for its technology, charges its customers per click. “Almost a hundred million of our SmartVideo clips have been viewed so far,” Axen says. SundaySky’s website has a counter showing the exact number in real time.

SundaySky was co-founded in 2006 by Axen and his partner, CEO Shmulik Weller. It has 75 employees, most of whom work at the company’s offices in Ramat Hahayal, and an American branch as well. It raised $20 million in two fundraising rounds from its main backers: Carmel Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Globespan Capital Partners. “We’re growing rapidly, and the number of our employees is growing too. A year ago, we were about 45 people. Our revenue is also three times what it was last year,” Axen says.

SundaySky has an Israeli competitor, Idomoo, which serves about 40 clients.


 

Bloomberg