【Startup Spotlight–Sounds Great】
As we are provided with a wide range of social media influencers, platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, each tries their very best to attract our attention. This ongoing influence leads us to continue to watch the next video that is recommended by the algorithm.
According to studies, about 78% of people are watching online videos every day in Taiwan, therefore the average time of watching is 1.6 hours per day. The thriving media industry is also bringing an increased demand for audio and visual equipment. The research institute, GHK, indicated that the first half of 2019, the global speakers and headphones market reached USD 8.7 billion. In this industry with a bright future, there is an acoustic design startup from Taiwan, that will undoubtedly blow our minds and show us the innovative technology of audio hardware design. The Taiwan-based startup – Sounds Great is founded by Mr. Chou, his classmates, and his instructor in college. Their core technology is using semiconductors and electromagnets to redesign traditional audio speakers. The team responded, “Long story short, we will reduce the size of traditional speakers by 99%, whereas the volume is fifty times louder than before.” Mr. Chou, the founder of Sounds Great, took out a coin from his pocket and spoke, “just imagine that we put a boombox into this coin.” Sounds Great and their core technology makes them stand out from a crowd, as they have also gained many acknowledgments from professionals as well as businesses. Sounds Great also got selected and awarded by the FITI innovation and startup program.
【It starts with an idea of bulletproof vest】
(Picture 1: Sounds Great team picture)
Mr. Chou flashed back to his college life when he was an undergraduate majoring in Chemistry in FJCU. He found a high-strength fiber material in the lab and was pondering about how to commercialize this material. The initial idea that crossed his mind was “I can use this fiber material to strengthen the bulletproof vest and it will save many soldier’s life!” As a result, Mr. Chou sent testing samples to a testing laboratory and waited for the feedback. The researcher of the testing laboratory showed them the outcome of the testing results and introduced a speaker diaphragm manufacturer, which was looking for a similar fiber material they made. Therefore, Sounds Great pivoted their bulletproof vest business idea to the game-changing acoustic material startup.
【Early stage – money burning to survive in the winter of R&D】
The very beginning of startup life was a tough time. As a hardware startup is not like SaaS, software, and mobile app startup. The capital is burning for the salary, rent, equipment, testing materials and so forth. It wore out their passion and entrepreneur dream of this budding startup and suddenly brought them back to reality. Mr. Chou recalled their early stage. To gain more financial aids, Mr. Chou brought their proposal to meet with various investors, apply for government subsidies, and exhibit in startup expo. Then, Sounds Great received a wonderful chance to be chosen in the FITI program organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology and represented Taiwan startup to receive business training in Singapore for a month. In the early stage, they adjusted and restructured their business model from the opinions by mentors in Singapore.
【External investment – the spring is around the corner】
After burning the midnight oil day by day, Sounds Great has finally proved its core technology and collects enough experiment data. Recently, Sounds Great is a partner with the semiconductor market leader to start further steps of product-market fit. Mr. Chou showed the chairs in the office and said, “we have some nice and comfortable chairs here because we seep at the office often.” Sounds Great is a member of the STARTBOARD incubation program. The first investor meetup does not have any financial support, but that was an excellent experience for them to sharpen their pitch skills and business proposal.
Entrepreneurship is hard, especially for the first couple of years; however, Sounds Great has developed a strong foundation for their business from previous failures. The student startup–Sounds Great has transformed and became more mature in both their mentality and product. Then, their pitch and business are receiving more and more helpful feedback from different pitch competitions and investors. Sounds Great was enduring through the winter of being an underdog and finally obtained the investor’s monetary support and received a lot of public attention last year. This investment boosts the team and their product; Meanwhile, there are some global brands that see the potentiality of the innovation of audio devices. Sounds Great receives more support from the hearing-aid company as well as the Government. For this budding startup, Spring has come earlier than expected.
【The global business strategy and risk management】
(Picture 2: Mr. Chou was explaining their core technology to the patent consultants)
There is a whiteboard with a clear roadmap of business strategy and patent portfolio at Sounds Great’s office. The demand for home theatre and smart home devices has increased significantly and the acoustics development has been technologically stagnant for years. Sounds Great is ready to take action to make good use of their game-changing audio technology, either having their brand or becoming the OEM partner of audio equipment companies. Besides US and European markets, Sounds Great is also planning to strategically expand their business in Singapore and Vietnam, and arrange for the Southeast Asia market. During the interview, Sounds Great would like to recruit talented engineers specialized in semiconductor, acoustic devices, and product development. If you are the one with the desired background, Sounds Great welcome you to join this high-potential startup to bring the world a better audio experience.
Written by Ching-Yen Lin, Project Manager at STARTBOARD
Edited by Jeannette Lealofi