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Some of the Beam team. (From left: Micheal Yu, James Boehm, Matt Salsamendi, Luca Rager. Photo via Beam).

After running a massive game server platform for four years, Matthew Salsamendi and his team realized how difficult it was for game streamers to interact with viewers.

The 18-year-old CEO decided to take another entrepreneurial plunge and helped launch Beam, a new Seattle-based startup that helps content creators interact and involve themselves with content producers. That platform not only lets creators chat with viewers, but also allows them to participate and control certain parts of the game being streamed.

“Top content creators have hundreds of millions of people watching their content on a monthly basis, but it becomes impossible to interact when you have thousands of people all trying to chat with you on a live-stream,” Salsamendi said. “Our goal is to make it possible for those content creators to break the third wall and involve their audience in their gameplay itself in real time.”

Beam is currently part of the Techstars Seattle cohort. We caught up with Salsamendi for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

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Beam CEO Matthew Salsamendi.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We make it possible for people to broadcast themselves playing games online and let their viewers control the enemies and challenges they face as they play.”

Inspiration hit us when: “It became clear that content creators were losing critical portions of their audience because they had no way to involve their viewers as they scaled their channels.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “A bit of all three. We have been working behind the scenes on Beam for a little over a year now, all self-funded from our prior startup, but we’ve received substantial interest from VC and angels alike. We just closed an awesome bridge round and we’re going to be raising a seed in early May.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Being relentlessly resourceful with technology. We’ve developed a world-first low latency streaming protocol built on top of WebRTC and VP8 to do stream delivery with sub-second latency to power the core of our platform.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Focusing on communities. Our platform is fundamentally social, and we’ve put substantial focus into creating a vibrant and connected community on the platform as a foundation for growth, and it is paying off so far: 80,000 people use Beam every month, and we’ve done zero paid marketing to date.”

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The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We need to invest more and more resources in creating and fostering new interactive games for the platform. Indeed, we are actively working on expanding our developer programs to get developers and mod-ders creating integrations that tie the platform into games for streamers to play.”

logo-coloredWould you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg, hands down. He has a unique global perspective on human interaction and communities. We function as an indirect social network for gamers, and Zuckerberg is the king of social.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Ping Pong. After shipping new features, tournaments are our favorite way to unwind.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Clearly articulated technical excellence and a passion for gaming.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Startups are HARD. Make sure you’re in a position to spend every waking hour thinking about your company. Find a co-founder who you would trust with your life and build a team that you can rely on.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the companies participating in Techstars Seattle’s class of 2016 in the lead up to Demo Day on May 18.

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