Launched in 2009; Co-Founders – Thiru Arunachalam & Bala Krishnan, built Peel with an initial purpose of fulfilling this gap by mixing mobile technology with traditional TV viewing.
Before Peel happened; Bala had worked for Booz & Company, developing strategies for R&D optimization for CPG companies along with helping media firms to create new growth opportunities. Also, he was an integral part of the founding team of Exilant. Whereas, on the other hand; Thiru – the Engineer from NITT India, & MBA from Wharton, had worked as an engineer and product manager at Apple, on projects like authoring the first Mac OS X build system.
Anyway, the California-based Peel – is an app that turns your smartphone or tablet into a smart remote control which primarily is designed to control your TV and DVR.
With the help of this app, you can perform multiple tasks, such as:
- Discover content you love on your remote (Very useful if you prefer watching traditional linear TV content)
- Keep a track the channels you care about
- Get personalized recommendations
- Engage with anyone on social media
- Set the channel guide according to your local TV provider’s channel line-up,
- Smartphones with a built-in IR functionality like Samsung Galaxy device can also use their phone as a universal remote, with the help of this app, & a lot more…
Other than that; the company has received a total funding of $86.7 Million in four rounds from five of its Investors i.e. Redpoint Ventures, Light Speed Venture Partners, Harrison Metal, Alibaba Group, Translink Capital.
As a first; recently Peel had launched its unique platform called Peel.in, with the help of which TV networks could share unique tune-in URL’s on Twitter and Facebook.
The best way to explain its use was, with the help of Peel.in platform celebrities or TV personalities could share a unique URL of their show or telecast via social network and clicking on the same would directed a person to the app.
This move of theirs was on similar lines to what Facebook and Twitter were trying to accomplish! That is – proving their worth that their platform could increase the viewership and boost the engagement of those already watching; to get a piece of the multibillion dollar annual TV ad budget.
It also worked well in their favour because quite a few renowned cable networks including AMC, HBO, BET, Reelz, Sundance Channel, and Univision; already started using the Peel.in platform.
Now at the same time; the Asian market, specifically India & China were growing crazily, wherein India alone had more than 1 million activated users.
Hence, due to the tremendous response the company decided to increase their range & extend their app’s capabilities beyond just TVs, set-top boxes and other entertainment devices, to more additional categories of home electronics such as – sound system, closing the blinds, adjusting room temperature, lowering the lights, thermostats, lights, and air conditioners among many others!
Additionally, they also tied-up with Karbonn Mobiles, Xolo, Celkon and Alcatel OneTouch and announced that it would now be offering the Peel Smart Remote app in their respective devices across India.
Being Indian’s; India was pretty much a known market for the founders but the real problem lied in building base in China which had over 1.2 billion mobile users!
To counter that, first they raised a $50 Million in strategic investment from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. After which; they studied Google’s strategies which were used before entering China, and eventually adopted a local strategy.
Later using those funds, Peel acquired a Shanghai-based rival ‘Mozitek’ for an undisclosed sum and also teamed up with Chinese hardware makers like ZTE and TCL because they knew the local consumer behaviour.
And today; the company has successfully built a team out there and aims to have 100 Million users in the country by 2016.
Whereas in India, Peel operates on majorly all popular brands of TVs and Air-Conditioners, and 600 set-top boxes, including Airtel, Tata Sky, Dish TV, Hathway, DEN and Siti Cable.
In such a short period of time; the company has surpassed its own goal and it now has over 100 Million users worldwide who spawn more than 7 Billion remote commands per month.
To add to that; the app’s users have generated more than 50 Billion remote commands, have paired 60 Million televisions, 20 Million set-top boxes and 2 Million air-conditioners, till date!
Image credit: peel.com