Summer in St. Louis: FocalCast Presents What They Learned

FocalCast co-founders, Charlie Beckwith and Devin Turner talk to us about their favorite STL food, beer, destinations and how their tech startup is growing.

You spend hours putting together a presentation. You rehearse in front of captive friends and family. You rearrange slides. Your charge your laptop.

Then on the big day in front of an audience of dozens you discover that the cables to the projector don’t match. Your adapter is broken, your can’t display anything, and you’re now forced to wing it.

FocalCast co-founders Charlie Beckwith and Devin Turner don’t want a situation like that to ever happen again.

Photo courtesy of FocalCast
Photo courtesy of FocalCast

Two years ago the two Marquette engineer graduates were introduced through friends of friends and met on a Skype call—Charlie in Milwaukee, Devin in Florida. Their partnership led to the creation of FocalCast: a universal platform on any device to make presentations mobile, interactive and not reliant on expensive software or hardware.

When FocalCast was selected to be a part of Capital Innovators’ Spring 2015 cohort, Charlie and Devin packed their bags and came down to St. Louis. While they admit what they knew of St. Louis before moving here wasn’t wholly positive, through their experience with the program and time spent exploring the city, the guys of FocalCast learned to love The Lou.

Here are a few  things they learned:

1. Making the right connections makes all the difference.

unnamedThrough Capital Innovators, they were able to meet with experts in finance and taxes, helping the two navigate a five-year projection for the company and tricky tax compliances.

“As recent college graduates both with engineering backgrounds, neither of us had experience with funding or finance,” Devin said. “with their help we were able to make that part of our pitch.”

2. The Best Seat for a Show in STL is in Busch Stadium.

unnamed-2Though they were busy growing their company, making connections and fine-tuning their pitch, Charlie and Devin did have a chance to get out and explore the city a bit.

At his first Cardinals game, Devin saw a walk-off triple victory. And there have been visits to the Science Center and The City Museum (Devin made a bet with a friend that he could fit into a tiny hole there, he couldn’t, and it cost him $5.)

3. STL does beer and BBQ pretty well.  

unnamed-1The guys also found time to do a little eating and drinking inbetween the work. Fans of The Loop, Salt + Smoke was a favorite spot and they’re still hoping to make it to The Shaved Duck.

As for the beer scene in STL, Charlie admits it wasn’t what he expected, “coming from Milwaukee, which has a huge craft beer scene. But I now have had the great craft beer St. Louis has,” he said, giving Urban Chestnut, 4Hands and Schlafly a shoutout.

4. The fun is just beginning. 

unnamedBoth Charlie and Devin are excited about the STL startup scene and say they are trying to stay. They are looking at hiring developers and different funding opportunities and business models with the help of local mentors.

“When we started, it was just connecting tablets and mobile to other displays,” said Charlie.

“Where we’ve gone since then with the help of one of our advisors, is exploring the process of video collaboration for conferences. So from a just starting with a phone connection, to now a web-based live presentation platform. A lot of exciting things are coming, for sure.”

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