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Arlington startup Gatsby TV wants to rethink how you stream

Mike Fickle and Gatsby Frimpong created an app to help users find the shows and movies most tailored to them — by connecting to their friends.

Gatsby TV cofounders Gatsby Frimpong (left) and Mike Fickle. (Courtesy photo)

Picture this: you’re in-between shows, you open Netflix, scroll for 20 minutes and nothing strikes your fancy. So you open Hulu and the exact same thing happens — and you end up rewatching an old standby for the umpteenth time.

That’s the problem that Gatsby TV, an Arlington, Virginia-based startup, is looking to solve. In December 2020, cofounders Gatsby Frimpong and Mike Fickle partnered up to build an app to help users find what to watch on a more personal level as they navigate more content options than ever.

“We thought: ‘Okay, how can we give people the best of both worlds?'” Fickle told Technical.ly. “Where they don’t only have this seemingly, never-ending library of content available to them, but we can present it to them in a way that they can navigate through and find the best show or review for them in the shortest period of time.”

Gatsby TV is an app available for Android and iOS that consolidates all the streaming platform options into one place (even ones you’ve never heard of, Fickle said). But the cofounders think that the best way to find a new show is not through an algorithm, but through recommendations from friends, family members and more.

So, users can both give and receive recommendations through the app and look through friends’ recently watched lists to find new shows. In the app, users can either opt to only see recommendations from streaming services they subscribe to, or open it up to options from everywhere. Once they’ve located a show or movie, they can click on it, see where it’s available to watch and get redirected to their streaming service of choice.

Gatsby TV is currently only available on mobile, but the team is currently at work on a web version coming very soon, as well as an Apple TV version that will likely go live early next year.

“You’re at work and somebody says, ‘Hey, have you seen XYZ?’ You’re out of the bar and somebody goes, ‘Oh, you need to watch this new show’ or whatever,” Fickle said. “That’s actually the strongest driver of what kind of content you’re going to connect with, but the issue is that all of those are offline recommendations that don’t get stored in any type of online format.”

The human-centric piece is a key component of Gatsby. While Netflix and other services do make recommendations through algorithms, Fickle noted that they only make recommendations on shows available on that streaming service. Plus, recommendations are often made based on previous watches, and users can get stuck in a certain genre or rut of similar content.

So far, Gatsby has about 50,000 downloads, and the company is completely bootstrapped (though Fickle is open to starting a funding round in the near future). Alongside building out the web and Apple TV versions of Gatsby, the team is looking to refine and grow its marketing plan to increase the number of users.

As the company continues to grow, Fickle said he hopes Gatsby can help users make the most of their downtime — not only cutting down on the searching time but also making sure that they’re not wasting time on a show or movie that’s not for them.

“We’re really passionate about not only cutting down the amount of time it takes but connecting people with the best content for them so that they can maximize that little bit of relaxation and downtown they have,” Fickle said.

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