The chief executive and co-founder of Beam Dynamics LLC, David Kaszycki, likes to refer to the Winston-Salem media services company as a bridge maker. More precisely, as “bridging the communication gap” between product manufacturers and their customers to allow the media outlets to be “always on air.” The company debuted in October its first product, titled “BeamOn,” as part of its platform to the media and entertainment industry.
The platform allows broadcasters “to see a comprehensive overview of the technology used across studios, control rooms, electronic news gathering and information technology infrastructure.” It is designed to provide engineering teams with “instant visibility to their entire production inventory across departments and regions.” Customers also receive product-update notifications and failure warnings and can visualize important product lifetime events in a single-user interface.
Beam Dynamics currently operates as a tenant in the Winston Starts incubator space in the 500 W. Fifth St. tower owned by Winston-Salem entrepreneur Don Flow. Winston Starts debuted in April 2017 for what Flow called “another support option for companies at any stage, from ideation to market readiness ... on a timetable that fits their business model and markets.” Tenants are able to stay in the leased space for up to 30 months. Beam Dynamics is becoming one of Winston Starts’ more recognized success stories. For example, on Nov. 12, the company received a $50,000 grant from NC Idea, a private foundation advocating for entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment. In August, Beam Dynamics was awarded the 2021 Pilot Innovation Award by the National Association of Broadcasters.
Kaszycki said the award typically “goes to emerging products or technology which helps broadcasters seize opportunities they will most likely encounter over the next two to three years. What makes this award so special to me is that it’s decided by a panel of experts who look at: how close the technology is to being used; its relevance; and how likely it is to be adopted by broadcasters.”
The company is set to be featured in Greater Winston-Salem Inc.’s 2021 technology briefing, a virtual presentation on Dec. 14. Kaszycki took time recently to discuss Beam Dynamics’ technology pathway and its aspirations. An edited version follows:
When did you determine there was a market for your services in the media industry, and did the discovery come from personal experience with challenges or astute observations?
I worked for one of the largest manufacturers in the film and media industry and would visit over 250 film sets every year, working with engineers, technicians and creatives on set.
I continued to see that these individuals had a major challenge in keeping the thousands of unique pieces of equipment from hundreds of manufacturers in perfect working condition. If just one of these thousands of pieces of equipment had an issue on set, it could cost a production up to $50,000 per hour.
After further research and analysis, we estimated this problem costs the media industry over $6 billion annually.
In order to solve this problem, I knew that we needed to create an interface for engineers on set to find the critical product data and information across all of their equipment in one place.
By creating this portal and adding layers of machine learning and artificial intelligence, we determined that we would be able to significantly reduce downtime on set, potentially saving the industry billions each year.
QHow was Beam Dynamics formed?
In December 2019, I reached out to a former co-worker with an engineering background, Ryan DeMars, to start working on a solution to this problem. We set up an LLC for Beam and started working nights and weekends on a vision for the business, and ultimately, if we could build what we envisioned. We began with basic MPVs and prototypes in early 2020, which we then took to hundreds of film and broadcast engineers to determine if our solution would be a benefit. We received a resounding “Yes,” and then we began raising money, building the platform and becoming focused on launching our solution to the market.
In laymen’s terms, can you explain the nuts and bolts of what your company provides and what makes it so valuable?
Similar to how Amazon or B&H organize and present sales-related data across millions of products, we organize and present service, lifecycle and maintenance data across millions of products — specifically in the film/broadcast industry at the moment. There is currently no other platform providing this level of service information, product notifications and maintenance tracking across multiple manufacturers in a single-user interface. An engineer on set will upload their equipment inventory and will be informed of critical updates, like firmware or product notices, have the ability create/manage service tickets, and be able to access a knowledge base of information across millions of unique products all in one place, making it easier to fix issues when they occur on set. What makes our platform so unique and valuable is that we have developed algorithms that allow us to pull all of this information into a standard format for engineers to view and act on. In the past, engineers on set would have to visit potentially hundreds of unique manufacturer portals and websites to get this information. But with Beam, it is now all in one place and updated in real time.
What is the biggest selling point for the technology, and who are the primary clients you are pitching to?
Our target market is equipment owners within the film and broadcast industry. This means anyone who owns professional production equipment — some examples are streaming content providers like Netflix and Disney, broadcast studios like WXII and WFMY, as well as their ownership groups (Hearst & Tegna, respectively). There also are companies who rent production equipment for large film and TV show productions, schools and houses of worship with production studios or live production capabilities, and other content creators shooting corporate videos, commercials and independent freelance projects. Our biggest selling point is that by using a studio’s equipment inventory list, we can pull in and keep up-to-date all the data and lifecycle information automatically. This saves the studio a tremendous amount of time when issues occur on set and gives them a single place to find information that is critical to keep productions on air and reduce costly downtime.
How has receiving the 2021 Pilot of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters resonated within your industry sector and with potential clients?
This award has provided further validation that Beam is solving a big problem for our industry in a unique way. We’ve seen an uptick in potential clients reaching out to learn how we are utilizing machine learning, AI and graph databases to provide a solution to prevent downtime on set. This has led to new partnerships with potential customers who are testing the platform at a larger scale. One of the most interesting things that has happened is that manufacturers have reached out looking to utilize the Beam platform to push critical information and data to their customers. As more sales go through resellers like B&H and Amazon, they don’t have a good platform to communicate with customers and are looking to Beam to help with this.
Where do you see the company’s growth over the next two to five years, and what expansion opportunities are there from Beam?
We are currently very focused on building the platform and set to address all product owners within the media industry, providing unique tools based on the type of productions they work on. But, as we’ve learned with the Product of the Year award, we see that there is an opportunity for us to provide solutions to manufacturers and we are actively planning pilot tests for this. We would plan to roll out a manufacturer product in early 2023.
From here, we see our ability to grow within the media industry and the potential to bring our platform to other market verticals with high-value technical equipment where downtime is expensive and multiple manufacturers are present, like operating rooms in hospitals, oil rigs, or construction sites.
How has operating in Winston-Salem benefited the company in terms of growth, access, funding?
Winston-Salem has been a great community to start and now grow our business. We joined Winston Starts in December, which has provided guidance, access to mentorship and intros to venture capitalists and angel investors. We’ve participated in several events with Flywheel and continue to be involved with Greater Winston-Salem Inc. in evangelizing for tech startups in our community. All of this has led to receiving investment from several angel investors in Winston-Salem that have been instrumental in getting Beam to this stage of our business. With our current funding round complete, we expect to have another capital raise in the summer/fall of 2022, and are already in early discussions with several individuals in our community who are interested in participating in that round as well. In addition to mentorship and funding, we’ve had help from companies within the broadcast and production industry locally. We are under NDA (non-disclosure agreements) with these groups and can’t share their names, but these companies and individuals have been our earliest pilot testers and sit on our advisory board to help drive our platform’s development. The community overall has opened their arms to Beam, and we truly see ourselves building a very strong and sustainable business that will flourish in Winston-Salem in the years to come.