Last December, Beam Technologies vacated its prime NuLu real estate (and Insider Louisville moved in) and beamed on over to Germantown just off Goss Avenue.
For months, we’ve been trying to leverage our status as former officemates to get a peek at Beam’s new digs. CEO Alex Frommeyer has been cagey.
Finally yesterday, we were invited to Chez Beam, not for a tour, but to sit down and hear all about the Beam guys’ newest enterprise.
The new home of Beam Technologies — creators of the first app-connected toothbrush on the market — is a nondescript building just off of Goss Avenue in Germantown. The storefront hosts a beauty and tanning salon. The back is a giant brick warehouse space. And upstairs and in between is an apartment where Beam Technology’s Frommeyer and Dan Dykes have lived for three years.
Back in December Frommeyer bought the building, and the apartment he shares with Dykes also serves as the company’s workspace.
It’s an almost comically stereotypical startup situation. The living room has a massive leather couch and a big-screen TV … and pretty much all of the equipment and machinery Beam had in their three-room NuLu office. When I enter the living room and am offered a seat at the plastic folding table, Frommeyer offers me a drink: “We have water or bourbon. And maybe milk.”
The bedrooms are in the back. Who knows what kinds of laboratories those hold? I didn’t ask to see. But these guys are pretty much rolling out of bed and working. During the nearly two hours I was there (we had some catching up to do), neither Dykes nor Alex Curry, the third Beam guy, stopped working.
And that’s because on top of their usual Beam connected toothbrush business they’ve also launched Uproar Labs, a company that specializes in the R&D and launch of Internet connected hardware products.
We first hinted at new enterprises from the Beam Technologies guys back in January when we interviewed Chris Bailey with GearBrake. GearBrake is the Velocity Accelerator’s first hardware startup. But because Bailey is primarily a marketer, he told Insider, “Beam Technologies has done all of my R&D work for the past four months, and they have been an extremely valuable contractor for GearBrake.”
“Beam has always done consulting,” says Frommeyer. “Just not on this scale.”
Over the past year, Frommeyer and crew have noticed new opportunities emerging in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) sector, new funding opportunities and a new interest in hardware, especially connected hardware. This just happens to coincide with the rapidly decreasing cost of hardware components.
“Hardware startups have gone from being practically cost prohibitive to being quite feasible,” says Frommeyer. After all they learned from iterating and launching the Beam Brush, he wondered, “Can we deploy our skills and methods to help others?”
And thus, Uproar Labs was born. Their aim is to help startups create new products and existing companies that need to innovate their product lines.
From the Uproar Labs website:
We believe that hardware should be developed for the same dollars and at the same speed as software products, a goal that influences our methods and work ethic for all projects. We take on pure software and pure hardware projects, but prefer to help build connected solutions. We have a particularly deep expertise in health and consumer products, founding Beam Technologies, the maker of the Beam Brush, in 2012. There, our team built and launched a category-creating consumer digital health product in under a year on a seed stage budget…with 3 people. Uproar is a large advocate of the maker movement, open source, crowdfunding, 3D printing, design thinking, lean startup, transparent partnerships, and the iot revolution. We work with startups in accelerators all the way to Fortune 50 companies. Nothing scares us, everything excites us.
Currently Uproar is working with six clients and expects to have four more in the next few weeks.
Frommeyer is planning the redesign of the warehouse/garage space, which will be the future home of both Beam and Uproar. The plan is to redo the siding, replace the solid garage door with a stylish glass one, and install outdoor lighting. He is currently the landlord of the beauty and tanning salon, but he’s got other designs on the space.
Expect to see the new Beam/Uproar HQ some time this summer when the guys finally liberate their living room.
What does all this mean for the Beam Brush? Frommeyer stresses it doesn’t really mean anything. They are down to the last 50 brushes in their first run. Proctor & Gamble’s Oral B has announced plans for a connected toothbrush, which is bringing much more attention to the oral technology space. Frommeyer says that since Oral B’s announcement, sales have sped up.
But Oral B’s toothbrush, due out sometime this summer, is a high-end, sophisticated product and will cost upwards of $200. Whereas Beam sliced its price in half from $50 to $25 shortly after launch. The value in Beam, says Frommeyer, is absolutely in the data collection end of things.
But they’re in a decision-making phase for Beam. Once the 50 units sell out, there will be a pause in the availability of Beam Brushes as they decide whether to do more funding or whether to start in on Beam 2.0 for example.