OpenEye Displays, a developer of digital display technology, won two awards at the recent Gen-i New Zealand Incubator Awards. The company won the start-up of the year category and its chief executive, Gareth Croy, won the start-up entrepreneur award.
The company was originally set up in New Jersey in 2000 by the man who still runs the US part of the company. In 2002 two entrepreneurs, John McCarthy and technology innovator Craig Meek, set up a sister-company in New Zealand. Croy got involved in 2004 and since then the company has amalgamated internationally and now has presence in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the US.
OpenEye, based at the Icehouse in Auckland, has 21 staff of which 11 are in New Zealand.
“There is a wide range of skills across the team from specialised IT skills through to content production — video digitalisation and flash animators — to skilled people in retail merchandising and strategy,” says Croy.
All research and development is done in New Zealand. There is also a separate innovation company under the Kiwi parent company, Croy says.
The Gen-i Incubator Awards, now in its third year, aims to celebrate local start-up companies and entrepreneurs across five categories — innovation of the year; entrepreneur of the year; start-up of the year; hall of fame award, and start-up exporter of the year.
Croy is chuffed about the company’s success at the awards.“The start-up of the year award is a great achievement and we are thrilled to have the recognition for the work we have done to date which is now starting to deliver significant results both in New Zealand and around the world,” he says.
Last year the OpenEye’s revenue increased five-fold, Croy says.
“We are not expecting to continue at that rate of growth but in the next two years we are expecting to do better than doubling the revenue,” he says.
So far, the company’s clients are mainly in New Zealand and Australia, but as the company eats into the European and US market, Croy expects larger scale implementations and, with that, more profit.
Croy is about to move to the Northern hemisphere, to spend his time between New York and London to drive business development in those areas.
OpenEye is more focused on sensory media than the widely used term digital signage, he says. The company works with integrating not just visual elements but also things like sound, smell and touch into its technology, to invoke emotion with people, he says.
Knowing your audience and sending relevant messages is the future of digital signage, he says.
As technology develops digital advertising messages will be targeted to the right audience in terms of gender, age and ethnicity.