It all began at a funeral home on Cleveland’s west side. The funeral director wanted to help families with the grieving process when not all members could travel to attend the service. He asked his tech-savvy friend Gordon Daily to help.
Gordon, who was working at Rockwell Automation, had a background in computer engineering and product management. And he thought he had a simple solution—live stream the service online. But it wasn’t that easy.
“It’s surprisingly difficult to stream live video,” Gordon says. “It requires expensive hardware and lots of technical expertise. This means organizations, like funeral homes, churches, schools and small businesses, struggle to do it well on their own.”
He realized the only way he could make it easy enough for the funeral home to stream video would be to build something that automated the streaming process. So he and his friends got to work.
Gordon and fellow Rockwell coworkers Justin Hartman and Ron Hopper designed and built a fully-automated encoder device that turns any camera into an end-to-end video streaming platform. A user connects an onsite camera with a pocket-sized, plug-and-play encoder called a BoxCaster, and the video shows up on their website.
The director loved it. And Gordon realized they had something special.
“A light bulb went off—we saw the power of connecting people to these one-of-a-kind experiences and knew that we needed to build a company around it,” he says.
In 2013 Gordon, Justin and Ron launched BoxCast. Their first stop to finance the company’s growth was Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio.
“We won $95,000 that helped us prove we could build a scalable product,” said Daily. “Once we had a product, we could prove people would buy it. And once we proved people would buy it, we could secure investment funding.”
The follow-on funding let all three quit their jobs to work at BoxCast full time.
Today the 23-person company has raised more than $4 million of private investment funding and is streaming HD video for hundreds of organizations around the world.
“It’s certainly fun to tell people that we stream NCAA events, 50,000 church services, and presidential candidates,” Gordon says. “However, I’m most proud of having assembled a great team of people.”
He should be. Customers appreciate what they can do with the technology, but say it’s the team members that make the company special.
“It became clear that BoxCast’s customer support is what makes them truly stand out,” says Craig Bowling. He streams his church’s services in Arkansas and is thrilled the BoxCast team isn’t the 9-5 type.
“They’re entirely available—they’ve even worked with me on Sunday mornings.”
BoxCast employees say it’s the fast-paced startup culture Gordon has kept as the company grows that makes it easy for them to dedicate their time and energy.
“I get up in the morning and am so excited to come to work because of the hustle,” says Mike Griffith, software craftsman. “When I look around and see these incredibly talented people and I’m going to battle with them side by side, it’s hard not to feel motivated.”
Even more motivation comes from outside the walls of their downtown offices, as BoxCast becomes a recognized name in Cleveland’s burgeoning startup community, and beyond.
“When I’m out speaking in public, it’s encouraging to hear people say ‘Yeah, I’m familiar with BoxCast.’ Two years ago very few people knew about us and now we’re known as one of Cleveland’s coolest tech companies,” says Sam Brenner, VP of marketing.
“It’s a really exciting time for our team here,” Brenner adds. “We’re a small company bound for big things.”
Leigh Keeton manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging with a particular focus on its startup support programs, including GLIDE, the college's on-campus technology incubator, and Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio.