Fugo makes your digital signage work, without all the work

Advertising products, services and features in your store is a no-brainer task. However, when you have huge television sets and screens set up in different places, controlling them is difficult. Moreover, when you have different channels and different mediums controlling each of these screens. But if you want the controlling aspect of these advertising screens under one roof, then Fugo is for you. 

Fugo is a tool that helps customers easily connect their different screens spread across several places under one roof. It’s an application that lets users display content with a single touch of a button. Moreover, the application comprises a sleek design, monitoring things becomes hassle-free, measuring the impact created is a single touch away, etc. Furthermore, the application has had its impact in the hospitality, retail, education industries exclusively. Venture Mirror got in touch with Zuka Kakabadze, Co-Founder & CTO of Fugo, to learn more about the company, and we sure did discover some interesting findings. Learn more about our little conversation provided below. 

What is the startup / product / venture about? Give us a brief description of it.

Fugo was built to help businesses connect their commonly overlooked ‘third screen’ – TV screens – to the tools at the heart of their business: social media, business intelligence & KPI software, or GSuite, to name a few. Whether their screens are internal or customer-facing, they can use Fugo software to determine how their screens look, display content, and how they connect their workplace, restaurant or venues around the world.

How many co-founders are there? Please introduce them and their backgrounds.

There are 2 founders – Camilla Chesham (Cami) and myself.

Since graduating from my MSc in Computer Science in 2013 from Oxford, I’ve worked on various start-up ideas. My first project was born out of my dissertation. I built software that helped businesses to automate text and document semantics and sentiment analysis. However, customer lead times were too long for us, and in the end the project never materialised. Despite this, I learned a lot as this was my first experience with selling to large corporations. Plus I had a lot of fun!

A couple stops later on my roadmap was actually my first digital signage start-up! Me and my then co-founders built taxi top LED screens and the software to manage them. We thought that if we cheaply manufactured these screens we could use our accompanying software to sell ad spaces on taxis, and that it would be a super quick and easy way to make money. We ended up selling our company to a local DOOH management company: http://dooh.cleanhouse.ge/ which resulted in my first successful exit. 

I then started working on Pixelart, an easy-to-use digital signage content management software, not just for taxi screens, but for any digital signage. Hardware costs had started to drop around this time, FireTV and Raspberry-pi were becoming popular and more powerful. So I got to thinking about how I could create a CMS that was specifically geared towards SMB’s. After admittedly spending more time than I should have on the product making it perfect, Pixelart rebranded as Fugo and launched in 2021. Today we manage over 500 screens and we are growing every week.

My co-founder Cami has worked since she was 16 years old everywhere from cafés and bars, to offices and start-ups. She entered real estate at a young age, where she somewhat accidentally remained for over a decade!? However, it was a great experience for her as she got to work with many clients, close thousands of B2C and B2B deals, learn about running a corporate business, and manage large teams. She’s created departments from scratch, increased profits by over 200% year on year, and achieved mind-blowing records within the industry. But she always felt like something was missing which is why she turned her hand to start-ups back in 2016.

Since then, she’s launched her own self-sufficient real estate agency team. She also started working on a passion project – Leilo, a money management app for recovering addicts, vulnerable adults, and their families.

After a chance encounter with me, we started Fugo. She acts as CEO and uses her experience to oversee our biz dev efforts, marketing approach, and sales.

How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you to do this?

We met whilst working at a hip co-working space in London where we were both trying to find our next big idea. Cami was a real estate agent at the time with a crazy varied background and I had just sold my first start-up. We got to speaking about the disastrous screens in the coffee shop next door – one of which was playing a Christmas promotion in February, while the other had a printed menu taped over it. Repeat this in cafes & businesses all over the globe – that’s A LOT of wasted potential from what should be one of an org’s most powerful communication tools. We decided to make it our mission to give these TV screens their mojo back!

Who is your target market? Why do you think your product will appeal to them?

While Fugo is meant to be used by any business with a screen (that’s a lot of industries and use cases) we envisioned it being adopted by small business owners – restaurateurs, retail shop owners, school administrations, HR managers, hoteliers, what have you – who don’t have the budget to do digital signage on the commercial scale of their bigger competitors. It’s great for them because with only a tv screen, a media player (think an Amazon fire stick) and our software – they can set up and manage networks of screens to manage remotely from anywhere in the world. They get to skip the graphic designers, hardware middlemen, and expensive software contracts that historically made digital signage just for the ‘big guys.”

Who are your competitors? How are you different from them?

The companies we consider to be our biggest competition are enterprise digital signage solutions such as Chrome Enterprise, SignageLive, Aerva, and Enplug who currently swallow up 90% of the digital signage market.

Whereas the solutions these companies sell often utilize outdated tech, have less-than-stellar UX/UI, and charge prohibitive prices for proprietary hardware and subscription fees, Fugo is built with pioneering technologies in functional programming, which means our software can perform at the same level as the “big guys” using just a fraction of the resources.

This translates into software that can be sold much more cheaply and accessed across a wider array of media player platforms – both professional and consumer grade.

Our more direct competitors are other cloud-based SaaS digital signage companies like ScreenCloud, Kitcast, and Screenly. While they share a similar model to Fugo, none of them have the feature that makes our tool really special – native analytics that can measure the impact of the content that’s published with the software (ie – data on face counts, gaze time, and audience demographics.) This is a powerful feature that will help businesses understand how their content is performing so they can be more strategic about their content strategy, ultimately driving ROI that you don’t get with other software tools.

What are the future plans with the product/startup? Any new features you are planning on?

We can’t give away too much, of course, but we’ve got some great stuff in our pipeline: integrations with Microsoft Power BI, real estate property listing software, as well as some major upgrades to our design studio that will place us in league with the likes of Canva. We’re also working on some features that will open up Fugo to users who don’t have screens, but you’ll have to stay tuned for more info on that!

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