The Beta Group was founded in 1983 by Bob Zider and The Boston Consulting Group to implement a systematic process of innovation. Early businesses included CVI/Beta, Personics, Beta Phase, and FOxS Labs. CVI/Beta invented the products and processes for the use of shape memory alloy used in eyeglasses (Flexon). Personics pioneered the technology to allow customization of audiotapes in a high speed, high quality retail environment. Beta Phase applied flex circuitry with shape memory actuators to the electronic and medical device sectors for customers including 3M and Cray. FOxS Labs created the first in-situ sensor to continuously measure blood gas levels.
In 1989, Beta acquired BCG's minority interest. The returns to investors between 1983 and 1989 exceeded 50% per annum. This represented a significant outperformance of the traditional venture capital community during this period.
Since the buyout, Beta has continued to utilize the Business EngineeringSM process to pursue its areas of expertise in advanced materials, medical and electronic devices, and optical and consumer products. Beta has since developed its own patent portfolio with over 40 pending and issued patents, many of which are the focus of ongoing efforts to commercialize.
Funding beyond the seed stage is raised from external investors. Beta ventures have utilized traditional venture capital, corporate partnerships, IPO's, LBO's, and investment from angels. For each business, Beta seeks to identify the best value-added source of capital to achieve long term success for each specific innovation.
In addition to ventures initiated and funded in-house, Beta has developed products and businesses for corporate partners such as Motorola (communication test equipment), Vision Service Plan (Altair Eyewear), and CNF (Con-Ways, Menlo Logistics).