Case Study: Beambox | Entrepreneur Cal Short Shares His Journey Building and Exiting a SaaS Business

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From Early Ventures to Launching Beambox

Cal Short was always an entrepreneur at heart, having started his first venture at the young age of 11. However, it wasn’t until he turned 18 that he truly discovered his passion for building and launching businesses. After working on several different projects and concepts, Cal launched his first software platform at the age of 16, which didn’t make any money but ended up generating leads for the business he was working for.

Despite this early success, Cal was determined to carve out a unique space in the market. He began working as a Ruby on Rails developer and eventually came up with the idea for Beambox, a cloud-managed WiFi marketing platform that provides secure, fast, and reliable WiFi services to businesses.

“It wasn’t a unique idea. I saw other people doing this and I realized that nobody had kind of carved out a product that faced more businesses. And I kind of had a philosophy that a lot of new technologies you see these days, start off targeting enterprise and the upper market segments.

And then as they get more standardized in the industry and they innovate and develop and become more refined, then they come back down and target the lower markets.”

It’s here that Cal found a gap in the market and decided to build Beambox for an underserviced sector, catering to small independent businesses and providing them with an innovative WiFi solution that uses existing WiFi to capture customer information, by combining the perfect WiFi experience with an all-in-one marketing platform.

“Beambox was about accessibility”.

However, launching Beambox proved to be challenging due to the combination of software and hardware components involved.

“Looking back, it was the worst possible choice for my first, you know, real business to launch. Because there weren’t only the software aspects to it, and there was a lot of software. You know, it’s a full-on marketing platform with data collection and everything. But beyond that, there was also a hardware element. And it took a long time for me to kind of put everything together and start being able to sell it.”

Cal initially had no experience in the wireless space, but he began to research and learn everything he could about WiFi. He built his own WiFi prototype using open-source software, which he later replaced with a commercial product.

Facing Scaling Challenges Head-On

Beambox had primarily been a one-person operation, with Cal relying on contractors and freelancers to assist with the development of the platform. The business was growing steadily, with revenue doubling each year, until Covid hit. Beambox lost a significant amount of revenue due to the pandemic, but Cal remained optimistic and saw it as an opportunity to focus on product development and positioning. He hired a full-stack developer and a customer support representative to free up his time for marketing and sales.

“At the time we were running lean and were aware of the potential of other competitors. At this stage, I decided to hire two employees, a customer support agent, and a stack developer, which allowed me to focus on marketing and sales. “

Fortunately, the business rebounded, and Beambox’s customer base returned. From late 2020 to August 2022, the company’s monthly recurring revenue grew from just under 40,000 to about 84,000 pounds. This success led Cal to start thinking about selling the business, which he viewed as his education and a tool for learning about the industry.

Cal recognized that there were limitations to his experience and expertise, particularly in scaling and expanding the business. He saw selling the business as a way to allow Beambox to grow and reach its full potential.

Making the Decision to Exit

Initially, Cal tried to exit his business by himself but realized that the workload to exit was too much and reached out to FE International.

“I went on Micro Acquire first and listed there. I thought I would try and handle it myself at first and scope out what interest there was. Looking back on their approach, they weren’t well-resourced to make a deal. Buyers were always going to be extremely reliant on financing, so their deals were just never going to be that good.

At that point, I got in touch with FE and went through the process. And over the next few months, I probably had about ten calls with different potential buyers, all of which had been pre-vetted and I knew weren’t wasting my time”.

At FE we supported Cal on his exit journey, and when Beambox was brought to market it was highly sought after through our network of trusted buyers.

After running a competitive process, Beambox was acquired for a strong multiple.

Overall, Cal’s experience with Beambox demonstrates the importance of perseverance and a willingness to learn new skills and concepts. Despite having no experience in the wireless space, Cal was able to build a SaaS business to a successful exit.

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