Inside the live-streaming startup’s rapid growth and evolving business
When we last featured BoxCast, the company had big dreams. And it turns out, the Cleveland startup was ahead of its time. BoxCast was in the early stages of funding, had only a handful of employees and were exploring how to expand their streaming operation. Four years later, they’ve made major strides, and are a leading provider for any kind of event or business to stream live video to anyone in the world.
“Since we first worked with TechOhio four years ago, we’ve grown from between 10 and 20 employees to between 50 and 60 employees,” said CEO and co-founder Gordon Daily. “The business has grown exponentially since then; we’re 10 times bigger now. We’ve really been able to fulfill a need for people. Now, we have a mix of sales and marketing folks, an engineering team and customer support. We’re able to really focus on advancing the culture of the company.”
BoxCast’s idea started with a funeral home, of all places, where operators told Daily and his team that they wanted to stream funeral services just like weddings. At first, Daily said he thought it was “a crazy idea.” But the thought made him realize that streaming is much bigger than just Netflix and YouTube.
“We realized that maybe we needed to explore other opportunities, especially in sports and in churches,” he said. “I was a college baseball player and I wish my family members could have watched me play. Our staff is actively involved in their churches and saw a need there. So we knew that there was an opportunity missed. All these experiences were happening all around us. We could watch any show on Netflix on our phones, but we couldn’t see the things that were most important to us when we couldn’t be there in person. So we knew that there was an opportunity.”
Since then, the company has found success in a variety of areas. They now have a live-streaming app, the “Boxcaster” streaming video encoder that started it all, and a “Boxcaster Pro” upgrade that allows for advanced encoding. Their video can be viewed on mobile devices as well as streaming platforms like Roku, Fire TV, Facebook Live or ChromeCast.
Because their user base is so diversified, BoxCast has seen their business go through peaks and valleys over the last six months. But what is particularly encouraging to Daily is the big-picture change in philosophy. Streaming and remote connections are no longer a secondhand issue; they’re a priority.
“Different industries have reacted differently to the pandemic. We have nine major pro sports teams and lots of colleges and high schools, and it’s been a mixed bag for them. Most haven’t been able to stream anywhere near what they’d like to because they aren’t playing. However, other markets, like our faith-based users, have seen an absolute explosion because they can’t meet in person. What’s really interesting is that our society is changing before our eyes. The need for remote people or customers to feel like they’re present is now a first-class need, not an afterthought. And we’re happy to be able to connect people.”
BoxCast’s operation has been based in Cleveland since the beginning, and Daily credits part of their success to their northeast Ohio home. The company has plans to break into streaming local government meetings and events as well as expanding their sports coverage to include an automatically generated scoreboard. And for the next steps of their growth, there isn’t a better place to make progress than Cleveland.
“There is such a huge advantage to being in Ohio,” said Daily. “The talent pool is top notch; people don’t realize how much easier it is for us to recruit top talent here versus the horror stories I hear about the coasts. We feel like we’re at an advantage because not only is it a lot cheaper and easier to get and recruit great talent, but we can afford to pay them a wage that keeps them happy and fulfilled. We’ve had such a tremendous amount of support from everybody in the community. Between the access to great talent, the people who are willing to advise you, the affordable rate of labor and access to the resources you need, I don’t see how you can beat Ohio.”