We, the Beams cofounders — Matej, Lenart, Robert and Alan, — previously collaborated on creating interactive, often unforeseen, audio experiences. In 2018, in collaboration with French artist JR, we were part of a team that created products for installations in New York and San Francisco allowing you to listen to a 1,000 voices tell their stories from your phone, and twenty-eight prisoners’ recorded personal stories from the maximum-security prison located in Tehachapi, California.
These projects made us realise how powerful the human voice can be in storytelling, especially when compared to video recordings or captions and photos. When you listen to over 3,000 people sharing their diverse and highly personal views on important subjects like prison reform, identity, class, racial justice, gun control, art, parenting and so much more – your view on things change. Every topic becomes a spectrum of views.
The problem back then was that there was no social platform out there that could host all these collaborative voices, so we always had to build each experience from scratch.
At the same time, we met Hannah Ray who previously helped to build diverse communities for Instagram and Vogue. From her we learned that large scale social media platforms had created a friction between individuals who feel they have to act like brands, and brands who try to act like individuals, which was stunting creativity. The spaces are not optimised for people to come together and share their different views in a group. We were all fed up of endless meaningless scrolling, and seeing only perfectly curated profiles.
So we got together to start building a new platform, where people could share their voice on a topic of their choice and invite others to collaborate with them by sharing their views or experience using their voice. Where people could evolve and express themselves in multi-faceted ways with sprawling interests and views. And, importantly, as a place we could come closer together through sharing our voice. We called it Beams.