Being on the road as much as we are here at nibletz.com the voice of startups everywhere else, we’ve come to realize how useful the iPhone and iPad have become to stay intune with what’s going on at home. For instance, FaceTime with my five year old daughter is something we do multiple times per day, every day. FaceTime is perhaps one of the easiest to use video chat apps ever created. A startup in Vancouver Canada, called Perch, has made it even easier.
Perch allows you to set up stationary iOS devices throughout your home or office. This unique app builds in video along with motion detection. Your iOS device becomes a Perch camera. All you have to do is walk up to the stationary iOS device and start talking, Perch knows to start rolling audio and video. The Perch app then uploads the video to the cloud making it easy for the recipient to get it.
Perch cameras can be used for surveillance and security, or as a great interactive tool for the whole family. Perch calls this hands free video operation, “ambient video”. In addition to those features you can also text and video chat with anyone in your Perch family.
The app was born out of a previous startup called Redhand which turned iOS devices into sophisticated security cameras.
We got a chance to talk with the team behind Perch. Check out the interview below.
What is Perch?
Perch is the first hands-free video communication app designed to bring you closer to your family regardless of where you are. Using ambient video to help you take back the moments you used to miss, Perch is the easiest way to stay connected with your family.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
There are two parts to how Perch works. The first is video and text messaging with anyone you’ve added to your Perch family. The second is ambient video communication.
Ambient video is video that is recorded from an iOS device that has been setup anywhere in your home. Essentially video from an iPod or iPhone that is always on. This mounted iOS device records motion and is also used as a communication hub. When you turn on the Perch camera it not only detects motion, it also uses facial detection to give you hands free video recording. All you need to do is walk up to the iPod that’s mounted on a wall and start talking. The camera will see you’re there and start recording both audio and video.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Perch is founded by Danny Robinson and Steve McKenzie. Danny’s been an early stage tech entrepreneur for over 15 years. In addition to being a founder and CEO at Perch, he’s also the Co-Founder/CEO of OpsKwan, a Board Advisor to BCIC and also the Co-Founder/CEO of Bootup Labs, Strutta, Peerflix, and Spinway.
Steve McKenzie was the Lead Developer and Co-Founder at Urbandig, 80 Elements Entertainment and the Director of Mobile Development at Strutta.
Where are you Perch?
Perch is handmade in Vancouver, Canada!
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
The startup scene is pretty strong in Vancouver. It’s been budding for the last 5 years and there have been some success stories; Flickr, Summify, and HootSuite to name a few.
How did you come up with the idea for Perch?
The idea for Perch stemmed out of an app called Redhand, built by the Perch team in late 2011, early 2012. Redhand was built to monitor an area with any iOS device and record any motion in that area. In the simplest terms, it was an extremely smart security camera. Anything that moved was captured by the device, uploaded on the cloud, while users on the viewing end of the recording were notified on their mobile phone.
For months Redhand was recording everything from pets and family, to office shenanigans and sock thieves. It was connecting people on both sides of the camera.
One of the most compelling connections that formed was between our founder, Danny Robinson, and his family. Perch cameras were placed around his house for both testing and home monitoring. Within days of setting up the cameras his kids made the connection that Dad was on the other end of the camera and he’d be notified when they were in front of the camera. Dancing, showing off, boasting about report cards, the kids knew they were in the spotlight and Dad could see them.
It was at this point that Redhand just wasn’t enough. There was a need to reach out to the person in the recording, talk to them, or just connect in some way without going through 20 different apps on the phone. This need quickly outgrew the capabilities and core product Redhand was built for. Perch was born.
How did you come up with the name?
We spent a few days “namestorming” before we came up with Perch. We wanted to find a name that was both friendly and relevant to what we were doing. Maura Rodgers, came up with the name.
What problem does Perch solve?
Perch solves the problem of staying connected with the people you live with. As much as we want to, we can’t be home all the time to be with those we love. Perch lets you stay connected with those people in a completely new way.
What’s your secret sauce?
It’s a secret! But, one thing I can share is that the Perch team is amazingly talented and hardworking. When it comes to getting stuff done, everyone checks their ego at the door and we all work together as a team.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Getting Perch out the door. We’ve come so close to launch numerous times, but because we’re dealing with video and very technical aspects of video, we’ve had to pull Perch off the shelf and back into development several times.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Dave Olson, VP of Community at HootSuite was one of my first mentors. He’s a true grassroots storyteller and also introduced me to the Vancouver startup scene. Boris Mann, long time web entrepreneur and Ryan Holmes are also two people who have helped me along the way.
What’s next for Perch?
Iterate and grow. We’re just out in the AppStore, and it’s been great so far. We’ll be working with our users to see what is working and what isn’t. It’s a big part of working in a startup and one I’m really excited for.