A US start-up has raised millions of dollars in venture capital funding to provide Internet based information to people riding in office lifts.
Captivate Network plans to deliver news, sports, weather, stock market and traffic information from Web sites to people in high rise office buildings and hotels via flat panel screens placed in elevators.
Michael DiFranza, the company’s founder, came up with the idea while observing the discomfort of his fellow passengers during an elevator ride. As a result, he decided to turn otherwise unproductive time into time that would be of benefit to a business audience.
Captivate obtains its content from several suppliers, including Reuters, Accuweather, Smartravel, Sidewalk.com and several major newspapers. Information is presented on the screen for 10 seconds and updated every 20 minutes.
Editors at the Captivate Production Center select, edit, format and update Internet content and an intelligent server in the hotel or office building pulls the content that is addressed to that site. It is then delivered to the elevator via a wired or wireless local area network.
According to a Captivate spokesperson, the technology has already been installed in "a handful" of elevators. "We just signed a contract to be in 25 by the end of the year," she said, adding that the company is currently rolling out its service in Boston, New York and Chicago and would follow in "a half dozen or so" other places next year.
Although Captivate plans to sell its service overseas over time, the spokewoman could not give any timescales, although she said it would not be this year. However, the firm will focus on those markets with a high concentration of high rise buildings and will market its offering to English speaking countries first.
Building operators will pay "a nominal fee" to cover the cost of hardware and installation, and Captivate will generate revenues by selling advertisements that appear at the bottom of its screen.
The financial community figures the company's idea is a winner. Earlier this month, Captivate received $7 million in equity financing from four venture capital firms.
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