(Photo by Christopher Wink)
Wham City Lights, the startup that makes an app that crowdsources light shows at concerts and other events, is moving to Brooklyn. CEO Keith Lea tells Technical.ly that being closer to the entertainment industry was the main factor.
The startup grew out of Wham City, the arts collective that was based out of the Copycat building in Station North. Ever the crowd-participation enthusiasts, Lea, EDM musician Dan Deacon and visual artist Alan Resnick conjured up the idea for the app as a way to use smartphones to illuminate a show.
"Baltimore has been a great place for us to start up and find ourselves as a company, but we've known all along that New York makes more sense in the long run."
Since its use at a Brad Paisley concert, the app was seen as having the potential for “mainstream breakthrough.” It’s only grown since then. The company raised a seed round and built a team of eight full-time employees.
In 2015, Lea said Cirque du Soleil, Disney and the NHL all deployed the technology, which syncs a light show that displays on a phone’s screen with live music. Increasingly, the company found itself in two worlds. As of September, it was also in two cities with offices in Baltimore and New York. The new headquarters will be in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood.
“Baltimore has been a great place for us to start up and find ourselves as a company, but we’ve known all along that New York makes more sense in the long run,” said Lea, a MICA graduate who worked at Google for three years, via email. “We have one foot in the tech world and the other in entertainment, so we’re really excited to be moving to a city known for both.”
The move means subletting the company’s office in the Railway Express Lofts building near Penn Station. The Craigslist ad notes 1,644 square feet, and a second mezzanine level. All eight of the company’s full-time employees will relocate, while four part-time employees will work remotely, Lea said.
The company started from the creative community, and Lea said they found the relatively low costs beneficial before raising a seed round. However, building a team following the investment was one challenge that Lea pointed to when we asked about the company’s experience starting a company here.
The company “ended up building an amazing team in Baltimore, but it took years when it really should’ve taken months,” Lea said.