By Becky Hurley | Sep 02, 2014
CEO: Mike Schell
Employees: 29 and growing
“Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards, “The Monuments Men” director George Clooney and “Captain Phillips” director Paul Greengrass have something in common: Convergent Design in Colorado Springs. So do the producers of “Jeopardy,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “NBC Nightly News” and “Hawaii 5-0.”
In fact, when Hollywood, New York, Asian, or European cinematographers and television broadcasters shoot high-def or the newer 4K digital video, Colorado’s Convergent Design is likely involved. The company’s innovative video/audio recorders provide optimum video quality in an ultra-light (cast magnesium) package that easily mounts on top of the camera.
Founder and CEO Mike Schell credits the company’s steady 10-year growth to evolving technology.
“Change is what keeps us in business – and keeps us on top,” he says. As broadcast television has evolved from analog tape-based standard-definition to digital solid-state high-definition, the company’s products have changed accordingly. Likewise as movie-making has gradually migrated from film to digital, Convergent Design has led the industry with solutions.
The company made a name for itself with products like the Flash XDR HD video recorder introduced in 2008 followed by the nanoFlash in 2009, which remains a key industry technology. With the introduction of Gemini 4:4:4, and the first full uncompressed HD and RAW recorder/monitor (RAW images provide the information needed to create a film or video image). Convergent Design continues to be an industry game changer.
When its new Odyssey 7Q and Odyssey7 external monitors were released last year, the Internet lit up. Reviewers like Phillip Bloom , Newshooter.com and Vimeo gave the products enthusiastic “thumbs up” – a nice endorsement for a guy whose company started in his basement. The monitors feature a vivid 7.7” OLED screen that enables users to view and capture at the ultimate video quality. A small, low‐power, lightweight package coupled with an affordable price keep the operation’s production team busy.
“We’re working hard, just to keep up with demand,” Schell says.
The company has built key partnerships with film industry leaders like Panavision and Sony. Both depend on Convergent’s equipment and firmware to complement their own lines.
Sales are handled by distributors in cities throughout the world, including two dealers in Colorado.
“Most of our business is done elsewhere. Our domestic and international sales team logs hundreds of thousands of air miles, attending broadcast and video trade shows,” he says. In fact Convergent’s product debut took place at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas with 100,000 people in attendance. Over time, the sales itinerary has grown to include participation at shows in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Sydney and more. Each offers an opportunity to connect with thousands of potential dealers and users.
Schell recently purchased a new 14,000 sq ft. facility, custom designed to support both product manufacturing and engineering. Custom cast magnesium cases are shipped from Taiwan, while assembled PCB (printed circuit boards) are supplied by Aspen Manufacturing of Westminster, CO. The OLED panels, connectors and ICs are supplied by Arrow, Avnet, and Heilind, among others. Convergent Design manufacturing personnel and technicians then assemble the final product, perform a burn-in, then test and package for worldwide shipment.
Challenges: Estimating how many units we can sell and keeping an eye on our competitors. It can also be agonizing trying to set prices. There’s no real history in this fast-changing industry to draw on.”
Needs: “Qualified, experienced engineers to develop new products. Product development cycles continue to limit our growth.”
Opportunities: “The video/audio recorder market looks bright,” he says. “Yesterday, we evolved from analog standard-def to digital high-def. Tomorrow, we’ll continue the evolution to 4K and ultimately 8K video. Change keeps us in business, and up at night, dreaming up new products.”