Meet our Company Partners: BoxCast
One of the coolest things about VFA? Our Fellows work for some of the most innovative and high-growth organizations in the country. Our Company Partners vary in industry, size, and financial stage, but they all share a few common traits that we hold above all else: strong leadership, dynamic opportunities for the Fellows, and a positive, collaborative culture. In this new series, we’re giving you an inside look at who these companies are and what their talented teams are building.
This week, we chatted with Gordon Daily, CEO of BoxCast, a Cleveland-based company that makes live-streaming video simple and affordable for anyone with a camera. Working to turn the Boxcast dream into a reality alongside Gordon are Fellows Peter Spaulding ’13 and Lena Kelly ‘14. This summer at VFA Training Camp, we got our hands on our very own BoxCast (pictured above, with some enthusiastic Team members) and let us tell you—what a game changer! To learn more about Gordon and Boxcast, visit www.boxcast.com.
Where does the BoxCast story begin?
Strangely enough, we got started in a funeral home. We were moonlighting as web developers when a funeral home director asked if we could come up with something that would make it possible for family members who couldn’t make it to participate in the services for their loved ones. This was the genesis of the idea that later evolved into BoxCast – connecting people through live video streaming. Of course, building our company didn’t happen instantly. My two co-founders (Justin Hartman and Ron Hopper) and I, as well as many other people, have worked a lot to refine the idea and our product.
How has the company evolved since your launch in May 2013?
We’re very pleased with the progress that we’ve made on the product, marketing, and staffing fronts. When we first started, we zeroed in on churches and varsity sports, and we’re pleased with the traction we’re showing there. We’ve broadcasted over 10,000 NCAA events and are actively being used by hundreds of churches.One of the big surprises in the live streaming space is that we never know what’s next for BoxCast. We’ve now streamed everything ranging from Donald Trump speeches to Nike summer basketball tournaments to the unveiling of never-seen-before alien photos at UFO conventions. Even with so much going on and all the additional promising markets, we’re still forced to face to fact that there are only 168 hours in each week. So, we’re hiring additional staff to help us grow. We recently closed our seed round funding and will soon begin working on Series A.
Venture for America was lucky enough to get our hands on a BoxCast for this past Summer’s Training Camp. It was so easy to use! How do you build and develop your product?
We’re constantly evaluating changes in technologies to ensure that we stay current with our product and meet the burning needs of our growing customer base. Since we’re headquartered in Cleveland, we get to take full advantage of Ohio’s rich industrial heritage, allowing us to find local suppliers who can meet our requirements. Speaking of Cleveland, we’ve had the great fortune of recruiting amazing advisors with top notch experience who are willing to get closely involved to our exciting startup.
You now have two Fellows, 2013er Peter Spaulding and 2014er Lena Kelly, helping you build your company. What has it been like working with them?
GD: It’s been a real pleasure, as both Peter and Lena are smart, hard-working, and committed to helping us grow. The first thing that I like most about them is that they aren’t afraid to tackle even the most ambiguous tasks. It’s a startup — everywhere you look is ambiguity. I like to say that they’ve got “street smarts”.The two of them have tackled every task we’ve thrown at them and are getting an insider’s view of what’s involved in launching and building a tech company — the good, the bad, and the ugly that goes with the territory. We don’t feel the need to pull any punches — they handle everything in stride and can be trusted.Peter has been invaluable in helping us set up our accounting system and supply chain and Lena is instrumental in helping us build our PR/marketing strategies. They’re both rock stars. Particularly noteworthy also is their willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Any advice for other VFA Company Partners?
If you’re not involved with VFA, you are missing out. Our experience has been extremely positive. My strongest suggestion is that you shouldn’t bring on Fellows unless you’re willing to take on the responsibility of assigning them top-notch advisors to ensure an awesome experience. If you provide them a fabulous experience, their efforts will return a yield in spades. For us, VFA candidates have brought a lot to the table and want to grow. Two more tidbits of advice: One, be sure to challenge your VFA folks with important assignments with real deliverables. And two, wherever you can, give them the opportunity to learn more about how decisions are made and how your company is managed. We take our obligation to continue the education of VFA Fellows seriously.
A little about your work style: what’s an app or platform that you can’t live without?
One of my favorite recent discoveries is Next Issue – it allows me receive about 150 magazines online at a reasonable price. With only so many hours in each day, this allows me to have a wealth of information at my fingertips. To be a great leader, I find that I need to constantly be feeding myself with information to challenge myself and my organization. Besides, you can’t work constantly and need to balance out life. Family/Reading/Exercise/Sleep help me make the most of those remaining hours in the week.The hottest boost for our internal communication has been the adoption of a tool called “slack” (visit slack.com). This tool has nuzzled itself into everyone’s natural workflow, replacing both internal chats and emails.
Building a startup is filled with some of the highest highs and lowest lows. What are some of the motivators and drivers that keep you going through the experience?
I’ve started to embrace what people have called an “irrational” belief in what we’re doing at BoxCast. In the early days, people thought we were crazy. Crazy isn’t the right word — it’s all about conviction that we can help connect people with some of the most memorable moments in life. Our product is simple, reliable, and affordable and it enables organizations and people around the world to connect with each other and share important moments. I’m very proud of what we’re attempting to build and am happy that we’re creating meaningful employment for talented people, and I hope, over time, returns for investors who have shown their faith in us through their financial support.
What’s the dream for BoxCast?
People can’t always attend meaningful events in person. The tragedy is that 9 out of 10 of these events still don’t live stream — even though everyone has a smartphone these days. My dream is that the ease and elegance of the BoxCast platform will connect those not in person through live video streaming.Step-by-step, our dream is becoming more of a reality every day. What I find most satisfying is building a great team focused on pushing out an outstanding product to the masses. Companies are all about people and VFA is a big part of making the people at BoxCast happen!