Startup Snapshot: Streaming is Believing

Elaine Lu, MBA '11, is co-founder and COO of Visbit, a view-optimized streaming technology company

By: Dick Anderson
Elaine Lu

Elaine Lu outside Visbit’s office at the Plug and Play Tech Center, Sunnyvale, California. Photo provided.

Virtual reality has seen a few glitches in its march toward mainstream popularity, as VR data exceeds bandwidth limits and computation capacity. Whether you’re fighting monsters in Nanchang, China, or gazing at the Milky Way in Milwaukee, resolution is everything. “Visbit builds technology and systems to help deliver VR videos to end users in the best quality anytime, anywhere, and on any device,” says Elaine Lu, a mobile industry veteran who co-founded Visbit with Google Glass developer and computer vision scientist Changyin Zhou.

“Visbit builds technology and systems to help deliver VR videos to end users in the best quality anytime, anywhere, and on any device.” — Elaine Lu, MBA ’11

In March 2015, Visbit set up shop at the Plug and Play Tech Center, a startup incubator in Sunnyvale, Calif. Within 18 months, the company built a full-suite solution for delivering 360-degree VR video, which a Visbit blog post calls “the gateway drug to virtual reality.” Visbit’s technology enables 360-degree VR videos to be played up to 12K (four times the industry standard for HDTV), whether it’s streamed over WiFi and LTE or locally without any internet — a boon for content creators and users alike.

By May 2018, Visbit had raised $4.1 million in seed funding from a handful of venture capitalists. “Our concept is an easy sell,” Lu says. But at a time when the overall VR industry is experiencing growing pains, she believes that Visbit is designed to thrive: “We have three things that our competitors lack: a constantly evolving technology, better performing products, and reliable service.”

CEO Zhou manages the technical side of Visbit, while Lu manages the business side. “We make key decisions together on product development, business strategy, and fundraising,” she explains. “Our collaboration model is very nimble.”

For Lu, who studied with Professor David BenDaniel as a Forté Fellow at Cornell, the appeal of entrepreneurship is “bringing an idea into reality and making a positive impact on society through something you built from scratch,” she says. Five years from now, she envisions Visbit as “a leading player in the VR content publishing and distribution ecosystem” — and that’s no illusion.