BBB clone does not boot from uSD

I am developing a BBB clone for our products. The schematic is an almost exact copy of the BBB with a few modifications. I removed the eMMC. The board will boot from the uSD. Right now it refuses to boot. I have a question: is the EEPROM on I2C0 necessary for booting? Right now it is blank. Is the board expected to boot while the EEPROM is blank, or do I need to program the EEPROM before attempting the boot?
Thank you – Wojtek