An Audiophilia Top Ten. Number 15 in the series. (The Top Ten ways to launch a high end audio Start Up)

by Anthony Kershaw on October 26, 2012 · 4 comments

in Audiophilia Top Tens

The two most recent audio shows, Toronto and Denver were instructive both aurally and visually. Yes, the equipment was great and much of the sound. But, sometimes the ‘front of house’ and many times, the back was sorely lacking. In this day, audio sex sells. You have to get the educated listener coming and going.

Legacy companies such as Audio Research Corporation, Wilson Audio and the like have known this for years. And, of course, they have the finances to and clout to produce the very best in promotion and the concomitant audience penetration. Smaller companies can do this if they are savvy and research. The problems lay mainly with ‘garage’ companies. Little capital and lots of passion. But, as my grandmother would remind me, ‘you can’t live on love’.

Other than clean clothes and a tidy appearance (I was surprised how many unprofessional presentations I saw in both Toronto and Denver), a complete knowledge of your product, patience, inner strength, and supportive partners and/or friends, the following is Audiophilia’s checklist for audiophile start ups. One may think that these ten points are from the list of ‘the bloody obvious’, but from what I have observed, many companies could use a refresher.

Please add yours to the list in the comments. And to all the amazing, passionate audiophiles with dreams of producing legacy components and speakers, all the very best.

1. A viable product (shop your prototype to people in the know like reputable dealers, distributors, knowledgeable audiophiles, and ‘civilians’).
2. An advertising budget (both digital and print, with the latter having far less ‘target specific penetration’ over the next three years).
3. R&D budget. Pay yourself.
4. Reviews. You must be reviewed in at least two different magazines (digital and print, with the latter becoming far less ‘influential’ over the next five years).
5. You must develop a professional website (a simple, elegant site will cost you between $1/2K, more if you are incorporating e commerce). Do not use a self-build product unless developed by a professional. Every image, word, phrase, etc represents your company. Also, develop a professional ID.
5. Social Media. A must. Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is important, FB less so. YouTube if you can produce wonderful looking videos in 1080P. Can’t? Don’t do it. It makes your company look amateurish.
6. Align yourself with excellence (see No. 1) and never, ever burn your bridges.
7. Audio Shows. Do them. You must show your new product to the folks in the know.
8. Promote to dealers and distributors. An e commerce web business model can work, but bums in seats in front of your kit demonstrated by passionate people is always best.
9. Professional photos (another $1K). Do it. Many shots I see are awful. And please, no cables on satin. At least one shot of each product well lit, appropriate shadows, and with a plain white background.
10. Beware of too much growth too soon and Venture Capital. Lots of stories of folks getting fired from their own companies.

The triumvirate for success at the minimum is review/advertise/show. You can’t miss even one.

The best advice I ever heard about e magazines/blogs, etc, was ‘no one gives a shit about your blog!’.

Begin with that in mind, work hard, and invest in yourself, your product and your company, and there may well be a very happy ending.

Good luck.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Harper 10.22.12 at 12:26 pm

Thanks, Anthony.
What a great article!
It’s my understanding that the largest and most sucessful companies spend as much or even more money on top notch marketing campaigns then they do on product development.
An excellent product is just the begining. The publics perception of a company is of equal importance.
Needless to say I am working on it.
Thanks again,
Ron Harper / RJH Audio.

admin 10.22.12 at 12:56 pm

You sure are!

Thanks for the comment and kind words.

Cheers, a

MARTIN APPEL 10.22.12 at 7:41 pm

Sounds clear as a bell, well written and hits the nail on the head. I’ve watched many companies, with great products, go out of business, due to not following some of those very points. Under-funded, no marketing or advertising strategies, and/or poor management.

Every design oriented firm needs a business person to provide commercial expertise especially in a design oriented firm usually run by the engineer/designer. This helps ensure but doesn’t guarantee a successful venture and it enables the designer to at least be aware of the realities of the marketplace. Not always a pleasant experience, but a necessity.

Good luck, especially in a tough economy to all you technically brilliant designers and listen to Anthony’s 10 points. You might just succeed.

Mark Kaidy 07.18.14 at 11:53 am

This is eerily timely for me, I’m launching a tunrntable/company in the fall.
It crystallizes a lot of what I’ve been thinking, and gives me some more to meditate on.

While advertising always looms largely important. I am in the middle of a new book, Absolute Value, which argues that the old marketing mantras are losing their relevance. As consumers more and more, base their decisions on reviews from other users, easily accessed expert opinions via the internet.

Wish me luck!

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