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BoxCast Unlocks Power of Performance
CLEVELAND -- If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Gordon Daily, president of BoxCast, asks a similar question: What’s the point of a sports event or a musical performance if it can be seen or heard only once by those present?
“We wanted to see these organizations unlock the awesome content that they have,” Daily says. BoxCast is a tech startup based in Cleveland that offers customers a minimum of hassle when they stream live, high-definition videos.
The BoxCast “box” accepts any camera. It then connects to the Internet, compressing the video and converting it to the format needed, resulting in fully automated, live streaming of high quality video. The potential, Daily says, is limitless. “With the team we’ve assembled and the great product that we have,” he states, “it’s going to be something special.” BoxCast headquarters occupy a spacious office on the top floor of the International Women’s Air and Space Museum on the shore of Lake Erie. On one wall is a giant map of the United States with hundreds of blinking lights that represent where live broadcasts are taking place.
“During football season this thing is really bright,” Daily says.
In another room is a pingpong table. Whenever a game is played, sounds of the ball hitting the table can be heard throughout the office. As the 13 full-time employees go about their work, one casually walks over to a big red button on the wall and presses it.
Suddenly the office is filled with the sound of Montell Jordan belting out, “This is how we do it.” All the workers begin nodding their heads to the music as Daily smiles and says, “When someone sells something, the magic button gets pressed.”
In the conference room of BoxCast is mounted a large whiteboard with names of schools, including several in the Mahoning Valley, the company hopes will buy its product.
As he sits, Daily vividly recalls the circumstances six years ago when he and his team first came up with the idea. As with many inventions, it was born of necessity.
In 2008, Daily was working for Rockwell Automation by day. By night, he and his friends tinkered with new technologies.
What lead to the epiphany that would change their lives was a fairly modest request. “Believe it or not, a funeral home asked us to do a website for them,” he remembers.
Once the website was complete and presented to the funeral home, the home made a second request. This one made Daily take notice.
The owners asked, “Do you think you can make it possible for people to stream our funeral services?” While Daily found the idea interesting, he was unsure. Assuming he could fill the request, how receptive would friends of the family in mourning be? He remembers telling them he doubted it would get many views.
But, after the director clarified he wanted to stream them only to close friends and family as part of the grieving process, Daily and his team agreed.
The request came with a catch. The streaming had to be totally automated because the director and his staff would be too occupied tending to the grieving family’s needs. “I don’t want to touch a thing,” Daily recalls him saying.
That was when the idea of automated streaming entered the minds of Daily and his team. The project for the funeral director started out as a singular event, but when Daily and his colleagues realized it would be unique, they had their eureka moment.
“We knew there would be more opportunities than just funerals,” he says.
Today most of the company’s business is split between sporting events and church services. “There’s a great need, it’s a felt need and churches want to reach people,” says Brett Bzdafka, church development manager at BoxCast. People traveling, in the hospital or overseas find the live church service helps them feel as if they’re in the congregation even though they can’t be present.
“Whatever life might do to keep them away, media is a great way for them to be engaged,” Bzdafka observes.
Another area BoxCast serves is performance space. With the technology it provides, anyone can now broadcast his talents throughout the world. Even better, he can make money.
“The other thing we’ve done that is so different,” says Daily, “is we’ve made it so you can set a price for the content.”
How BoxCast bills its customers is similar to how cellphone companies accept payment. In BoxCast’s case, a customer signs a subscription and the box is delivered at no cost. At the end of the month, BoxCast computes the amount of content viewed and mails a bill. The rates average about two cents per minute per viewer. S
hould a customer choose to charge for people to view the content, then the customer can potentially make money. “We handle all the credit card processing and all the technical support and we simply mail you a check,” Daily says.
As Daily knows, technology is a race. What is cutting edge today can be obsolete tomorrow. To stay ahead of the curve, his company is constantly innovating and improving its product.
This fall, BoxCast is making it possible for customers to tag plays during sporting events so they can create highlight reels.
Its also possible to plug the box directly into scoreboards, giving customers the ability to broadcast the score and game clock in real time.
“The bigger story,” Daily says, “is what we’re doing with the cloud.” By using cloud infrastructure, BoxCast can record live events so customers can return and view them later.
In the conference room, Daily discusses his team’s plans to install BoxCast in Valley schools, allowing them to broadcast games, competitions and performances. “It’s just an extra revenue stream for them,” he says.
But Daily also admits the true potential of his product is yet to be fully realized and he and his team are just getting started.
“I don’t see a limit,” Daily says, “but at the same time, technology is a race and I think we’re off to a great start.
Pictured: Gordon Daily, president of BoxCast.
Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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