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A look behind the Beam scenes

Hello world, we are Beam Dynamics! Here's our story.

April 18, 2022
A look behind the Beam scenes

It was 2019 and I had just come home from yet another week on the road meeting with customers. I couldn’t believe that yet again these production companies and broadcasters were not getting the message about a critical update for an important piece of their infrastructure. If this update wasn’t instituted, it could cause their entire workflow to crash. I thought if it was this hard with one product, how in the world are they handling critical updates and information needs from the other 400+ vendors and thousands of products on set and in their control and rack rooms. 

I called up a former coworker of mine and we started chatting on the idea. We asked whether it was actually possible to bring data on millions of products and thousands of vendors into a single user interface. And even if we could do this, could we organize it in a standardized way across every product. And finally, even if we were able to acquire the necessary data and information, could we actually link this to an inventory list that, let’s be honest, is messy and does not usually include the model #s or key information of the product owned. 

Worries aside, we got to work. We talked every night and weekend for over a year just to define the problem. We began working on designs, building a pitch deck, and talking about whether we could actually execute on the vision. We consulted with founders of other software companies, talked to directors of engineering, CTOs, CIOs and on set technicians to learn more about their problems. We continued to see in all this research that, yes, this was a big problem across the industry and, yes, it was possible to solve but it would take a lot of work and a team of very talented people to execute on it. 

We began work towards what would eventually become the BeamON platform. But we knew that rather than driving blindly towards a technical solution we needed to set a foundation for our business, we needed to create simple rules that would drive the tough decisions that we would have to make in the months and years to come. We decided on 3 key pillars, which still drive our decision making today when we can’t come to an agreement. Those pillars are “freaking magic”, “stewards of data”, and “keep it simple”. 

We wanted everything we built to feel like magic when someone used it. We wanted the experience to feel for a user like something they didn’t think was possible in this world, but somehow it existed in their hands. This pillar helps us drive towards features and technology that push the boundaries of what has been done before in a way that feels like magic. 

We knew that in the age of data, more and more personal and company data is compromised and exploited by those who want to sell you more stuff. We decided that we wanted to act as a steward of the data that was entrusted to us. Using it towards the benefit of all within our product’s ecosystem, whilte not infringing on their rights or pushing the boundaries. We wanted to create a safe place to store and manage any data element. 

Finally, we knew that any great technology is inherently simple. We looked for simple, yet elegant solutions to major problems. If there was a path towards solving a problem that seemed too complex, we worked to find a path that more simply solved the problem. These three pillars drove the early decisions we made, and they still continue to drive how we operate today. When we come across a difficult question that we can’t come to an agreement on, we always fall back on those three pillars and ask, is it FM enough, is it simple, are we being stewards of data? 

We took that strong foundation and our early customer research to release our first MVP product, a mobile application allowing any individual to download an iOS or android app and gain basic information and resources from thousands vendors in the film & broadcast industry. It was a good test case for the problem we were trying to solve, but ultimately we knew that it wasn’t going to cut it. 

We had put our personal money in to develop the first mobile app, but we knew that we’d need a whole lot more money and team members to actually execute on the vision. This wasn’t a technology that could just be bootstrapped. 

We were still working nights and weekends with full time jobs during the day, but we knew that if this was going to make it we would have to go all in, and soon. We applied for a competitive startup business competition and were selected as a winner, providing us some money and clout, but more importantly the validation from others that we were on to something. 

I quit my job in short order, we honed our pitch deck, and called everyone we knew that had some money to spare and raised our first bit of money. With this we brought on a designer, a full stack developer, and had the oversight of an old friend who started a boutique development firm to make sure we didn’t make too many mistakes. He was keeping an eye on our infrastructure and platform, but continued to be curious about the problem we were solving as he saw the vision for more than just film & broadcast.  

Our small team began extensive user research, building out simple designs, workflows and technology to piece together the eventual solution. Things were looking good and the feedback from the industry was extremely positive…once again, we knew we were on to something. 

The team continued to grow with the help of that old friend who searched for and vetted the right talent for our team. We continued building the platform and by the summer of 2021, we had acquired our first platform pilot tester. We set up weekly calls to show our progress, have them test the platform and ultimately tell us if we were on the right track. 

Beam Dev Team, Friday Sprint Call

One pilot tester quickly turned into 5 and the industry was clamouring for the data we could provide on their critical production technology. But we found out that building a great looking platform doesn’t matter if you don’t have the necessary data, workflows and backend infrastructure to support the platform.

And so we came to our next inflection point as a business. We saw that the technology would solve a huge problem for the industry, we knew that it could be built, but to do so it would take a larger and more dedicated team. Once again, our old friend who then became our fractional CTO started defining who we needed next on our team and what infrastructure was required to support our platform goals. It was finally determined that we’d need to triple the size of our development team to fully execute the platform. We were confident that we could get the final solution out, but we just needed more talented individuals with specialties in a few cutting edge technology domains to actually do it. 

And so, we started fundraising again. With no revenue it is very hard to attract any investor, so you have to rely on the vision you’re selling and the early traction you’ve had…and even then it’s often not enticing enough for investors. Luckily we had the pitch honed and positive feedback from our early pilot testers so we ended up raising enough money to triple our team’s size and have a strong runway to get us to revenue. And the cherry on top is that we won another grant, this one much bigger, coming out ahead of over 300 other startups. Once again, we had more validation and confidence, which we were going to need over the coming months. 

We pushed again and grew as a company. Rather than a small team of 5 that could communicate easily, we grew to 15 and split them into two teams: Platform Team, which worked on the front end and connecting the necessary data, and the Data Team, which was responsible for acquiring, organizing and cleansing data from thousands of vendors and millions of products. We switched to the SCRUM methodology to stay on track as a team and started being brutally honest about what was working, what wasn’t, and where our biggest risks were. There were growing pains, but after a month or two we were in a groove and the team was gelling. 

We got even more direct with our pilot testers, asking for deeper critical feedback and testing. We also brought on two key industry advisors who agreed to work with Beam for virtually nothing, all because they saw the vision we had for our solution. We refined the product, dug into the real heart of the issue, and took all this critical feedback back to the development team to execute on. 

Six months later, I sit here on the cusp of our full product launch. We are still a few weeks away from introducing the Beam Enterprise Asset Management to the world, but we see the light at the end of the 2+ year tunnel. There were times we didn’t think we could actually execute on what we’re building, but our hubris made us charge forward and for that I’m thankful. Sometimes you have to take that big risk on a gut feeling well before you know if you can actually execute on the vision in your head. We jumped into the deep end hoping we could swim, and I’m happy to say that we have did. Beam is ready to change the face of the industry and this is only just the beginning of what our transformative platform can do. 

Hello World, we are Beam Dynamics.  

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