The years of blood, sweat and sound to get here (Part 1)
The blog is written by a guest writer; our founder and CEO James Bell-Booth
The idea of Earshots was sparked in November 2015. I was training for the T42 adventure race. Hours of toil in the Tararua Ranges of New Zealand, on the bike and on my feet. I love listening to music or various audio while training. I tried every headphone out there, earbuds, over ears, the whole lot, and for the life of me I couldn't find a fit that worked! From the moment I put the headphones on at home before I headed out, to the first 10-15 minutes of my run or ride, I was interupted by having to adjust my headphones because they were moving, or they just straight fell out of my ears.
The problem was that headphones constantly moved in my ears or fell out all together
It's really simple...I would find flow in my training runs or rides, then the next minute I was having to adjust the damn headphones or they would fall out altogether. I literally wondered if anyone who designs headphones had ever gone out for a run or ride with what they made. I thought there had to be a better way...and that's where the genesis of Earshots begun.
I looked hard at ear anatomy and realised there is a part of the ear that is the most stable cartilage. It was in and around the inner bowl. They call the area concha bowl. But how do you get something to secure itself there...after testing hundreds of different mechanisms, I discovered magnets, or MagFit, that we call it now was the answer.
Who am I to take on the Goliaths of headphones
I wasn't really sure if I should take the challenge on, everyone around me thought I was completely mad. I was constantly questioning 'Who was I to take on the big players of consumer electronics?'. Fortunately, I have benefited from the mantra in life of 'you only live once'...and that mindset has overcome any fears that might float in my head about what the big players might do.
"If you want to solve a problem, the best person to do it is the person who has it"
After remortgaging the house, I paid an industrial designer to come up with the first prototype. It cost us $10,000, which was a lot of money for us and we had to draw it down on our mortgage. Unfortunately, while we got a sample to play with, it was a bloody terrible execution for a number of reasons. And after spending the funds, we didn't really have anything to show for it. We had run out of money, and had nothing to really show for it. At the time I remembered getting some advice from a seasoned entrepreneur and inventor, and in summary they said 'if you are passionate about solving a problem, the best person to solve it is you'.
Determined to solve this problem, but with no money, I decided I would start hand making prototypes and testing them to figure out how to make our MagFit system work. The prototypes weren't pretty, but it was fun.
A half marathon in a de-constructed Earshot
After figuring out how to make the Earshots MagFit system work, I decided I needed to get something with working audio. My co-founder and I deconstructed an iPod, added our MagFit tech and put some epoxy over it and waala. A working model to use on a run.
I ran a half marathon in this puppy. So good.
Holy shit...we have figured it out
After hundreds of prototypes, I landed on the combination of variables that I needed to make MagFit the best headphone design out there. I gave it to a bunch of riders and runners and they all confirmed, if I could turn the design into a working headphone I would be on to a winner.
Look out for Part 2 of the Blood, Sweat & Sound series...as we go from prototypes to first version of an Earshots product