Podcast: An Aha Moment 2

An Aha Moment: Cerberus Tech

December 6, 2022 • 8 min 51 sec

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The journey of a startup is never a straight path, but instead a winding journey through a forest to…a film set? Chris Clarke (he/him), CEO and Co-Founder of Cerberus Tech, tells us the winding tale of how his Co-Founder and business found him. Cerberus Tech is a thriving global video delivery service that uses IP technology, as opposed to satellite or fiber, to deliver video content for live events and broadcasters anywhere in the world.

“An Aha Moment,” is a special segment on Making Work Work where we bring you stories from founders, who share how they came up with the key idea for their business; their very own light bulb moment.

Episode transcript.

[00:00:00] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Have you ever had an idea that made it feel like the world had clicked into place? An idea so powerful that it drove you to action?

You’re listening to a special segment of ‘Making Work Work,’ by DigitalOcean called An Aha Moment, where we bring you bite size stories from entrepreneurs and founders about how they came up with the key idea for their business. They didn’t know what the business would become or how their idea would evolve, but they knew in their gut that they had found something great.

Let’s dive in.

[00:00:36] Chris Clarke: The long, long, long way back is that both Brad and I are both ex-military communicators essentially. Um, we didn’t know each other in military. We then both worked at a defense contractor, um, and again, didn’t really know each other, but we would see each other out in the grounds, walking through doorways.

You know, when you just like casually walk past someone and you have that kind of common cart, say you do like a little nod, hello. Cause you see them every day. You don’t necessarily know their name, but. It’s polite to do so. Um, literally didn’t know his name. Uh, that kind of defense contract work came to an end and I was looking for a new challenge.

So there was an opportunity to get into media contract work. I ended up starting in the team and I think within a week or two, um, who I now know, nor to be Brad, walked into the same room. We were instantly like eyes locked. Love at first sight, uh, but you know, instantly eyes locked.

And it was like, "Hey, I know you," and he was like, "Hey, I know you." And we were like, instantly became two people in a new team who didn’t know each other, but knew each other. Um, but I understood his background, he understood mine, and we very quickly became like a good engineering team working together.

The company then were looking for, um, all of product on the market that were claiming that they could do IP video over unmanaged networks as in the internet. Um, and what it does to test every single one of them write up a report of it. Um, at the time, nobody in the, uh, nobody in the wider team had any knowledge of what IP was. Some of them could spell it, um, but the, for the most part, they were just completely kind of clueless as to what it was and how it.

Whereas Brad and I came with, you know, like I said, there’s wealth of experience. We’ve both been doing IP networks from, you know, myself I think was late 2000, um, so kinda like 21 years ago now that I did my first, uh, IP addressing and variable length of net masking course. Um, but you know, it was, it was then a working practice, working knowledge from that point onwards.

And so we had this wealth of experience. So the project kind of naturally came to myself and Brad. We started looking at these technologies and figuring out what was working, what was good, what was, you know, uh, selling snake oil, uh, versus what was actually performing from an engineering perspective. Um, and submitted a report and kinda didn’t really think about it from that point onwards.

Running alongside of that, I had the beginning, the kind of fledgling parts of what Cerberus Tech is now, running as a business. Um, trying to dedicate as much time as we could to it while still running full-time contract. Um, so it was like weekends, evenings, trying to tease out little opportunities where we could see them and where we felt that we could make a difference in, in the industry.

Um, and part of that was providing, um, remote wifi and internet connections for, um, anyone who needed it. But it tended to be things like festivals, um, anything that was running outdoors. A little bit of television work, so yeah know, some like Christmas specials where they’d be filming things in village halls and stuff, and they needed this kind of, uh, connectivity.

But then along came in an opportunity to work in the film industry. Um, and so through a contact that we had, there was an opportunity to provide these sort of services to, um, film industry when they were doing on location shoots. So they’re away from the studios oftentimes in car parks or side streets, or in our case, our first one was a forest.

Um, and so we were invited to kind of tender for this bit of business, won it, started to do these wifi services, but obviously there’s a lot of video work goes on, on a film set. Um, and we were overhearing bits of conversations where there was a request to see if we could get live video from set. So out of the back of the camera essentially, or out of the, the back of the, the DIT operators, um, setup and deliver that live to a trailer that was part of the video village, but not necessarily right next to the.

I stupidly said something along the lines of, yeah, that’s fairly straightforward. Uh, we control the network here, we can incode the video, deliver it and drop it off. Can we move Live video over the internet? And I said something like, that’s not outside the realms of possibilities that we could deliver that video feed from the back of the camera to wherever you happen to be in the world.

Uh, and it was a kind of casual like, do that invent. Um, and that kind of set us off on then this path of, of Chris and Brad where I invent things in my head, sell it to a customer, then he’s got to invent the real version of it. Um, and as much as he complains about it, he really loves it. Um, is kinda what we thrive on.

And, and that was essentially the precursor to everything that we do now. We started off down this technology road trying to um figure out new ways of implementing the technology and that’s kind of where cloud really comes into it. Where we had an opportunity to get them this video from a film set to somewhere else on the other side of the world.

Trouble is the moving pieces that are involved in doing that is, okay, we need to move live linear video. So, you know, we’re looking for not a huge amount of bandwidth, but kind of 10 megabits per second. Um, the traditional ways of moving it into broadcast media work workflows are either satellite, so they use SNG trucks and they’ll bring them to site, um, especially if it’s in a remote location to get it back to somewhere centralized, um, or fiber circuits.

And fiber circuits can be, you know, extremely expensive, especially for short term. And they also take kind of three to six month lead times to put in. Whereas actually when you’re looking at film industry and where they’re moving around, it’s like, okay, we’re gonna be in this car park at some point next week -we don’t even know when. Um, and where do you need to get the video feed to? Oh, this other car park or a hotel complex or a studio.

You never really knew where the end point was. The really difficult thing to try and manage that is because you can’t book anything with any degree of certainty. And so we thought back to this, you know, these IP workflows, these, this testing that we were doing in the media world, and we thought this technology could work really well if we put it with our cloud reflector. So, rather than having two locations who never really know where they’re trying to send video to or from, if we put a cloud reflector in, we’ve at least got one static point so the source can send it to the static point and the receiver can request it from the static point, which means that those two objects could revolve around the world.

It could be in hotels, it could be in studios, be anywhere. They were always asking from wherever they were to get to this one fixed point. So they could be preconfigured, you could set up all the security, and you could ship it out with min with, uh, minimal involve.

And that was almost seven years ago that we deployed our first cloud computing video reflector, if you like, um, and immediately knew at that point that the, the technology solution had applications that went far beyond the, the film and TV production world.

I actually went into broadcast media, lively, near circuit sports news, eSports, um, and that was kind of the birth really of our services division.

[00:07:59] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Great ideas aren’t born overnight, even though inspiration can come in a flash. We hope this Aha Moment story for ‘Making Work Work,’ inspires you to continue shaping, molding, and honing your own ideas because you never know what they can become.

Our theme music is composed by Mirco Altenbach.

Make sure to check out do.co/makingworkwork for more info.

Until next time, I’m Rachael Lewis-Krisky. Keep swimming friends.

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