Videon Central: A Different Kind of Company Powering Blu-Ray Electronics Worldwide
Walk into a Circuit City or Best Buy and pick up any Blu-ray player made by Samsung or LG Electronics, and you can bet some of the technology inside came from Videon Central in State College, Pennsylvania. Since the company began 11 years ago, Videon Central has moved from making high-definition (HD) technology for TVs to becoming a leading developer of software for Blu-ray players worldwide.
“Samsung and LGE are two of the biggest consumer electronic brands in the world, so we think that’s pretty cool,” says Todd Erdley, president and CEO of Videon Central, which he describes as a “different kind of company.”
“My goal in starting Videon was not about growing a company for sales and prospering by the ownership,” he says. “It was to create a company where employees can go home each day, enjoy their families and feel good about what they do, because that’s what it’s all about.” Part of Videon’s unique corporate culture includes eight dogs who share the office with the company’s 75 employees. Why? “Because there’s something special about getting licked by a dog in the middle of the day,” Erdley says.
Positive Results from a “Cataclysmic Failure”
Ironically, Videon Central started as a result of the “cataclysmic failure” of Erdley’s previous company, Paragon. When the company failed, Erdley had to make a decision-write a resume or start another company. “I had a good business model in mind for a service company, and John Vidmar at Ben Franklin Technology Partners was really a catalyst for us. He said, ‘Go for it-you have a good idea,’ ” Erdley says.
Within the first month, Videon Central had $50,000 in sales, and by the end of the first six months, the company made more than Paragon had made in five years. “That’s when I realized we had something good going here,” Erdley says.
Although the $150,000 that BFTP invested in Videon Central helped, Erdley says the business and financial advice they offered was even more valuable. “BFTP is made of up really smart people who have seen a lot of mistakes made by other small companies,” says Erdley. “They have helped us avoid huge potholes. If more startup companies would allow BFTP to show them the barriers they are going to run into so they could be more anticipatory, it would make a world of difference.”
A Poster-Child for Economic Growth
Videon Central has certainly not sacrificed any growth with its laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. In its 11-year lifespan, Videon Central has grown from just a few initial partners to 75 employees, and from $3,500 of total capitalization to $11 million in sales. “And we’re currently doubling our office space,” Erdley adds.
The company has also meant good things for the State College area. “Seventy-five people is a drop in the bucket, yet it’s pretty important because we’re in the top one percent as far as growth in the state of Pennsylvania,” Erdley says, “and that one percent of companies provide 75 percent of the jobs in the state. So we have a definite impact in terms of not only hiring and retaining engineers who graduate from Penn State, but also because we’ve been able to hire a lot of people who would typically work in manufacturing,” he says.
And the technology at the core of Videon is also advancing with each passing day. “Many things are going to happen with this thing called a Blu-ray player-it really does have the ability to be a convergence of media,” Erdley says.
Keynotes June, 2008
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