Downtown start-up PRSONAS looks to promote presenter product

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 06:32 PM

At the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, a talking dinosaur is ready to greet visitors and take donations. Want to make a donation right away? The dinosaur can take your information.

The museum’s greeter is a visual presenter – a standup that plays a video sound recording, displays a projected image and takes payments – set up on a trial basis at the museum by the Durham-based start-up PRSONAS.

The company was spun out of the Wake Forest company nuMedia Innovations, a contract technology developer, said David Rose, PRSONAS’ president and CEO. PRSONAS is now looking to build a business around selling visual presenters to businesses for use at company trade shows, or at other locations such as at hospitals or airports.

The first presenter was born after nuMedia Innovations was asked to create an interactive stand-up for use at a trade show, Rose said. He said company officials later went through nuMedia’s product portfolio, and decided to spin out that technology on its own.

“We see the value here – it’s an attention-getter, people are attracted to it, want to check it out,” he said.

The presenters are created from a combination of technology sources, Rose said. They didn’t develop some technology that goes into the presenters, but they did develop the artificial intelligence that makes the units interactive, he said.

Several units have touch screens, Rose said, that allow the user to learn more about one of several different topics. Rose said the company developed the logic that allows that to happen.

He said they believe that component makes their product unique. He said it could be a plus for businesses, which can compile data from the interactive presenters on what customers are looking for.

“It’s not just a speaking billboard,” said Clement du Toit, the marketing director for the company, and one of its three employees.

The company has 10 of its visual presenters out in the world right now, Rose said. The presenter at the museum in Raleigh is set up through a revenue-sharing arrangement over a 90-day trial basis.

Rose said one of the company’s biggest obstacles has been getting their product seen.

That’s one reason he said the company is in downtown Durham. The company is one of the start-ups in space at the new hub for entrepreneurs, the Underground@ Main, at 201 W. Main St. The entrepreneurial hub is one of two spaces for small companies backed by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting Corp.

Capitol Broadcasting is behind what was previously called the American Underground, at the American Tobacco campus downtown.

“Regardless, if we’re going to start a technology company high tech company, in my mind, there’s no better place than downtown Durham,” Rose said, adding that he believes there’s an established ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs and journalists there.