Firm serves CCTV as management tool

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, August 1, 2005

DALLAS--Flush with $5.3 million in additional equity, Digital Witness is moving into new territory--that's Houston and Atlanta, to be precise.
The financing from various investors, including former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman and World Champion of Poker Phil Hellmuth, enables the company to spread its approach in the surveillance market beyond its hometown. Since its inception in 2001, the company has raised $9.3 million.
Unlike some installers who only sell a security system to keep criminals out, Digital Witness bills its surveillance system as a management tool. It provides information such as customer flow at a restaurant, a video time clock for employees and clips of random transactions at a bar.
"The focus of the company evolved into a management basis," said Kelby Hagar, chief executive officer and one of three founders of the four-year-old company. "We started off like the others, where we were looking at the security aspect of the system. But our customers told us they were getting much more out of the management aspect."
The backbone to Digital Witness' approach is software the company developed in-house. It enables a digital video recorder and cameras to capture data, such as how many people frequented the bar area in a restaurant during a specific time period.
And, instead of selling the security equipment outright, the company sells a subscription-based service. For example, a four-camera system would cost $195 per month, said Hagar, and would include continuous software upgrades.
Today, the company boasts 900 systems installed in the Dallas market in less than two years, securing most of its business from restaurants. The company employs 45 people, with a majority of those made up of software programmers, sales people and project engineers. It relies on a network of systems integrators to install its surveillance systems.
While the company's Houston location opened in May, its Atlanta office is scheduled to begin operations this month. Like Dallas, the two markets are known for serving as home to numerous restaurants, according to Brent Dunn, co-founder and chief technology officer.
Hagar expects rapid growth for Digital Witness. Over the next two years, he hopes to serve 10 additional cities with its surveillance products as a business management tool. "This software and system is so powerful, a system like it, whether it's ours or our competitors', will be in every restaurant in five years," predicted Hagar.