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September 11, 2016 | Tom Ballard

“The Works” Participant #4: DateBooth

The Works Demo Day(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator. The teams will pitch their ideas on September 21 during a “Demo Day” at Scripps Networks Interactive. For more details, click here. Registration deadline is September 16.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“We let people go on dates, stream them live, and let viewers ask questions,” Billy Miller says of the start-up the Johnson City native co-founded with Nick Kneece, who hails from Savannah, GA.

The name of their new undertaking – DateBooth – aptly describes the start-up’s current focus, but there is much more to their overall concept.

“On a broader scale, we make tools for livestreaming,” Miller adds.

The duo works at Knoxville’s NorthSouth Productions, a company previously profiled in this two-part series (Part 1 and Part 2). DateBooth was a late entrant to this year’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator, replacing a team that withdrew. Kneece is Director of Technology for NorthSouth, while Miller is a Development Producer.

Their ideas originate, at least in part, from personal interests of Kneece.

“I play a lot of video games and spend a lot of time on Twitch,” he says of the live streaming video site owned by Amazon. It is billed as the world’s leading platform and community for gamers with more than 45 million individuals a month broadcasting and watching shows.

“Twitch is a big player,” Kneece says, referring not only to its place in the gaming industry but also its impact on the rapidly emerging live streaming sector. “If you’re not entertaining, you won’t get an audience.”

It’s that entertaining part that Miller and Kneece are bringing to the dating scene.

“Dating is universal across all cultures,” Kneece says. “There’s a story in every date.”

DateBooth allows users to share their date with others and actually interact with those viewers.

“All of our tools make you more entertaining,” Miller says. “We amp-up people. If no one asks questions, our software will interview you.”

The duo has been using Cocoa Moon on Market Square to video dates. Kneece says they have randomly selected people for the experience.

“They come in reluctant and leave very happy,” Miller adds.

You can go to the DateBooth site to view the videos or visit the start-up’s YouTube channel.

As already noted, dating is just one of their targets for livestreaming. Another is karaoke, an area they are exploring with mentoring from Joe Vangieri of SoKnox Studios.

As far as their experience in “The Works,” Miller says that “it’s been eye opening. In television, you make a show. You don’t sell ads. We’ve learned there’s more pressure on our (business) end.”

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