Missing your favourite TV programmes can be one of the downsides of travelling abroad. However, for ZOALA® TV customers, this isn’t a problem! Pieter Jooris’s Flemish start-up enables you to enjoy exactly the same TV experience abroad as you have at home.

With ZOALA® TV, you get your own HDMI stick which you can plug into a TV anywhere in the world. For example, you can simply connect to the internet from your hotel room in France and watch all your favourite TV programmes. That’s why our slogan is “Zap like home…anywhere you go!”

“We want to give travellers a living-room experience”, says Jooris, summing up his goals. “Our emphasis is on usability. That’s why the HDMI stick is designed just like a plug-and-play device. Being user-friendly is one of our key aims, meaning that ZOALA ® TV really is completely granny-proof!”

We think it’s important that the customer is always able to stay in control of their content.

Since the internet connection in hotels often leaves a lot to be desired, the Ghent-based start-up also provides a SIM card so you can watch TV via mobile platforms. And the user-friendly experience doesn’t end there! Travellers in a different time zone can still watch their home country’s evening news at 7PM, even if it was actually broadcast many hours earlier. And the best part is that this all happens automatically! “It can feel as though you are not really abroad at all” laughs Jooris. “You do also have the option to turn this preference off, but we think it’s important that the customer is always able to stay in control of their content. That’s why a close relationship with our customers is so important to us. It is through product leadership and innovation that we really win over our customer’s hearts!”

ZOALA®TV’s business model is based on a subscription formula. Customers pay a one-off fee for the HDMI stick. The subscription amount paid then determines the number of days for which customers can access the services on offer. “Right now, our greatest challenge is our business model”, admits Jooris. “It is a matter of being able to make good deals with broadcasters in order to be able to offer content at a fair price. Not all broadcasters offer their content for free and the rights to watch certain content might not be available in all countries.”

Just like every start-up, ZOALA® TV has encountered – and continues to encounter – challenges along the way. “Having been selected for Roularta’s accelerator programme, we came a long way in a short time”, admits Jooris cheerfully. “We got lots of expert feedback on the most important aspects of start-up business. We covered everything from scalability to marketing. Attending some excellent workshops and sessions gave us a real boost in expertise. I’m really proud that we succeeded in getting a scalable business up and running.”

ZOALA® TV is focussing on the so-called ‘home experience’, which means that the technology can also be used in your own country, either with or without the HDMI stick. But travellers are still the main target group. “We see ourselves as a global operation, and our aim is to become the Netflix of linear television” says Jooris, explaining his ambitions. “One day, our customers will be saying ‘we’re going on holiday, we mustn’t forget our ZOALA®TV’. That’s when we’ll know we have succeeded!”


Text: Magali De Reu


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