In 2012, Elemental Technologies received the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Inc. 5000 company, which works with an array of impressive broadcasting clients to stream their television content to computers and mobile devices, secured the BBC as a client ahead of the network's airing of the London Summer Olympics.
Seven other global broadcasters--including Canada's CTV and Eurosport--soon followed the BBC's lead, and Elemental suddenly had a major role to play in the 2012 games.
That wasn't a bad spot to be in for a startup of, at the time, six years old. And with the worlds' eyes turned its way, Elemental stuck the landing, executing on its technology without flaw throughout the 2012 Olympics, according to CEO Sam Blackman.
Now, at Sochi, Elemental has taken on even more of the responsibility for streaming the Olympics to the world. Blackman says it has added three clients for the Winter Games. Chief among them: Russia's Channel One, which has exclusive rights to the Sochi games in its home country and boasts a viewership of 250 million.
From the Start, Build Trust
Elemental's growth away from the games might be all the more impressive. Blackman says the company has grown from 150 to 400 clients in the 18 months since London. He tells Inc. that the company's success working with an event as high-profile as the Olympics and a client as ubiquitous as the BBC has helped Elemental grow at such a fast clip.
"If big-name media companies trust your tech for the Olympics--which they spend $1 billion to broadcast--it says a lot about your trustworthiness," Blackman says. "They feel a lot less risk when they make a purchase decision around Elemental."
Practice Makes Perfect
Aside from the marketing leverage point, the success at London also allows Elemental to change its focus in Sochi. Blackman says ahead of London, the team was a bit on edge, and it put months into testing its systems ahead of the games.
By now, the company knows it can pull off the Olympics. And although it will have all hands on deck for any necessary support during the games, Blackman says the company is freed up to set its sights further down the slope.
For example, rather than focus on making sure its existing systems work perfectly, Elemental will be able to experiment as it tests its systems on forthcoming technologies that aren't yet widely in consumers' hands during these Olympics.
Take the 4K Ultra HD TVs that have been the exciting new product at tech conferences du jour for more than a year. These sets are just starting to find a place in homes across the country, but Blackman suspects they'll be used far wider come the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Using the Freedom That Comes With Success
Because Elemental already knows it's capable of getting the Olympics right, it doesn't have to put all its energy into making sure its existing capabilities are working perfectly. And that means it can keep an eye on the future by making sure its systems work well on forthcoming technologies.
Blackman says the Sochi Olympics will also serve Elemental well as practice for an even bigger event--this summer's World Cup, which he projects as having the largest audience yet that will be using Elemental's technologies.