Award-Winning Columbia Entrepreneurs

Jun 21 2017 | By Jesse Adams

VidRovr, an innovative video management and processing platform developed by PhD students in Columbia Engineering’s Digital and Multimedia Lab, was recently named among the Publicis90, a select group of startups to receive funding and mentorship from Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s leading advertising and PR firms.

VidRovr Demonstration Video


A jury of executives and practitioners selected just 90 winners from more than 3,500 applicants spanning 141 countries. VidRovr placed an overall 12th in the global competition, which aims to support digital entrepreneurs with major business potential in the industry.

Cofounders Joe Ellis and Dan Morozoff, doctoral students in electrical engineering and biological sciences respectively, created VidRovr to enable real-time processing of large video collections to extract meaningful information, index clips, and help clients intelligently leverage content. With Professor Shih-Fu Chang as adviser, they devoted several years to patenting foundational research in machine learning and multimodal information processing, designing algorithms to process and learn from vast amounts of information.

Making up more than 80 percent of online traffic, video is the fastest-growing and most profitable space for advertisers. VidRovr helps partners monetize content with systems to help index, search, and recommend videos automatically. The company was selected to participate in the NYC Media Lab’s startup incubator, The Combine, and consulted extensively with industry experts to address clients’ needs.

After graduating from The Combine, VidRovr executed a licensing deal with Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) for the core patents and software developed in Chang’s lab with collaborators Brendan Jou, Hongzhi Li, and Svebor Karaman.

“In years to come we hope that, through VidRovr, the technologies for video understanding that we developed at Columbia will allow users to be more informed and entertained online by making relevant, beautiful, and important content readily accessible and available,” Ellis said.