Silicon Valley-inspired Business Finds Success in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Robbie Baker, April 2, 2020

Matt Zimmermann always dreamed of a career through which he could make a difference. A self-proclaimed military brat, Matt spent his formative years on Air Force bases across multiple continents. Little did he know that one day he would be running a company that better prepares military personnel for their missions.

Beast Code, a software engineering company based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla, started by Matt and six co-founders, isn’t your average defense contractor. It has a much bigger purpose and innovative approach.

Watch Matt and Beast Code’s story below.

Beast Code Full Length

 

Specializing in high-performance modeling and simulation solutions using 3-D environments, much of Beast Code’s recent focus has been on working hand-in-hand with the United States Armed Forces to develop game-based, interactive training for military personnel. Developing customized solutions in an efficient and successful way requires Beast Code to be incredibly nimble, strategic and be the best at what it does.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to know that the work we do each day helps play a larger role in the lives of military,” Matt said. “We know that our work matters, and that inspires us to continue growing and improving.”

When Beast Code first started in 2014, it was just the seven co-founders working from local coffee shops – each person coding, managing administrative work and performing other duties as needed. Beast Code has grown quickly from that humble beginning, and today employs more than 80 people.

Growing Pains

The result of that exponential growth presented challenges for Matt and the team. Early on, they faced difficulty in securing a loan for their first office space. Each bank they reached out to turned them down until they connected with Hancock Whitney. Michelle Boerstler, Beast Code’s local banker and Hancock Whitney’s regional president, took time to meet with the company, listen to its plans first-hand and understand the various use-cases for its products and services.

That was a gesture that blew the Beast Code team away. Since that day, Beast Code has maintained a close relationship with Michelle and Hancock Whitney. From adding additional lines of credit, to securing new loans and even making new contacts in the community, Beast Code has found a true partner in Hancock Whitney.

“It’s refreshing to be able to pick up the phone and connect directly with Michelle,” said Crystal Cole, Director of Administration at Beast Code. “Hancock Whitney feels like family. We can walk into the bank and they know us by first name. It’s refreshing to have that small town feel and know that your bank is strong, supportive and capable of fulfilling all your needs.”

Silicon Beach

Beast Code’s motto is software never sleeps, and that mindset has helped it succeed in the industry. That, plus a casual and collaborative work environment that feels more like home than an office.

Silicon Valley has a reputation for being a progressive workplace culture that takes work-life balance to a new level. When co-founding Beast Code, Matt was determined to bring that same casual atmosphere to Fort Walton Beach, or as the team likes to call it, Silicon Beach.

It’s not uncommon to walk the halls of Beast Code and come face-to-face with artwork featuring the cast of The Avengers or be invited to a thrilling game of Rock Band in the company’s lounge. Snacks, daily happy hour and a commitment to host employee appreciation events throughout the year truly bring the Silicon Valley feel to Fort Walton Beach. 

“Our teams are agile and it’s not uncommon for employees to be in early or work late,” Matt explains. “So, we believe it is important for us to create a work environment that allows our team to be comfortable at work since they do spend a substantial amount of time here.”

Hancock Whitney helped Matt and team finance their entire campus in Fort Walton Beach, including office space, an “innovation center” to host guests and showcase presentations, as well as an on-site gym for employees.

“Anytime we need to talk to our banker — anytime we have a problem, we’re able to give her a call and she is always able to resolve it,” says Crystal.

Beast Code’s innovative approach to its work has not only differentiated it from other traditional defense contractors but has been a contributing factor in its tremendous success over the last few years.

As Beast Code looks toward its next challenges and solutions, Hancock Whitney looks forward to a continued partnership of helping Beast Code and its clients accomplish their mission.