The Surrey-based company will begin delivering its high quality, user-friendly platform this summer.
The recent deal follows the Yare team’s participation as the inaugural client of ReFuel, a pilot program developed by SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, a university-wide entrepreneurship initiative.
Launched in late 2016 with support from the SFU Alumni Association and the university’s community engagement fund, the pilot aims to bring serial entrepreneur alumni “back into the fold” and into the SFU incubator program.
Dobbie got on board and set up shop at SFU’s Surrey campus earlier this year. He couldn’t be more pleased with the results, landing Yare’s first multi-year contract a few months later.
“Being here at SFU has given us the space and resources to really grow Yare into the university sports market,” says Dobbie, who graduated from SFU in 1983.
His career includes a string of stints as a business developer and video streaming consultant, including nearly two decades as president of Tenor Investments Inc., which houses several video streaming services, including most recently, Yare Media.
Yare has already streamed some major events, including the 2016 CFL Grey Cup, and drew a record online viewing audience in Austria during last year’s UEFA championship. Dobbie says the new enhancement of adaptive bitrate video eliminates buffering and will seamlessly provide the highest quality HD video experience for CW viewers.
Yare’s goal of improving the viewer experience for fans will also increase exposure of high-end athletes competing at the university level, something institutions like the University of Calgary are already excited about. There are 17 Canadian schools in Canada West.
Webster’s dictionary defines yare as being ready, prepared, brisk, active and quick, and that’s precisely how Dobbie sees the company.
“We focus on helping sports and entertainment groups that are under-served by the traditional broadcast channels to grow their profile, by making games and other programming easily accessible, whether on big screens or remotely on an iPhone, and as close to watching the real thing live as possible.”
Dobbie says his brief time spent with SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection provided the right mix of resources. “The Surrey campus environment has been extremely motivating, especially being among students who are so creative, so smart, and clearly think outside the box,” he says.
“Being ‘in the trenches’ with them as innovators has been a real eye-opener on how quickly grads are developing that niche.”
Following Yare’s success, ReFuel is looking for more prospects and plans to support multiple participants, both resident and virtual.
“Hugh and Yare Media were the perfect team to bring into this pilot,” says Janice OBriain, associate director of SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection.
“A successful serial entrepreneur launching a new venture, he wasn’t looking for the full services we provide to startups in our incubator program. Rather, he benefited in other ways from reconnecting to the SFU community, with co-working space, market research support from class projects, skill-refreshing workshops, and access to industry events and networks.
“In return, he provided informal mentorship to the new entrepreneurs in our incubator, is looking to expand his team with SFU talent, and is collaborating on projects with some of our clients.”
Coast Capital Savings recently invested $1 million to further grow innovation through SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program.
More on SFU alumnus Hugh Dobbie:
Besides his many international sports connections, Dobbie is well known in local youth soccer circles, with long-serving coaching and managing roles with Coastal FC.
He also played a year with the SFU Clan under the soccer team’s longest-serving coach, the late Keith Watts, and continues to play in a Surrey recreational league.
Dobbie’s SFU ties extend beyond his own degree – his dad returned to complete an EMBA, while his mom earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
His brother and sister also studied at SFU, as did his daughter, who recently got married on the Burnaby campus. Among others are several nieces and nephews—some of them, former members of the SFU Pipe Band.