According to an article written by Market Watch, the global Earphones And Headphones market was valued at 14600 million US$ in 2018 and will reach 26500 million US$ by the end of 2025, growing at a CAGR of 7.8% during 2019-2025. Some of the well-known international brands of the industry, Sennheiser, Sony, Shure, JVC, Skullcandy, Harman, Philips, Bose and Beats Electronics. So how does a startup from Taiwan – XROUND stands up to these titans? What breakthroughs can we expect and most importantly, will they grow into a unicorn?
XROUND is a successful brand under a tech-startup company that provides innovative audio solutions to the general public. Their bold strategic decision on gaining initial capital, PoC, market exposure has leaded them to a fruitful venture so far! By utilizing crowdfunding platforms, internationally well-known competitions such as the Best Choice Award of COMPUTEX TAIPEI, they have managed to steadily and strategically increase their positive image and demand of their products.
The delicate balance of quality, technology and price.
CEO & Co-Founder Mr. Peng Lee stated during his interview that he and his colleagues want to build a quality audio solution for the general public to enjoy at a reasonable price. To do that, we need to establish a baseline of what is being regarded as good quality of audio. When it comes to headphones, a lot of people enjoy deep, strong bass, but audiophiles usually prefer a more accurate and natural sound. However, the majority users may prefer the following:
- Bass-heavy, strong emphasis on lower range to get strong, deep bass
- Emphasis on bass and treble to give a more lively and dynamic sound
- Flat, balanced and neutral sounding with all frequencies being equal
There is no right or wrong answer, it is purely subjective. Mr. Lee stated in the interview that companies may have different opinions regarding the targeted audience, one could go for the smaller market share but with higher profit margin; or a larger market but with slightly lesser profit margin. He and his team prefer to provide quality at a more affordable price, using ingenious audio algorithm, ICT technology and smart designs, Mr. Lee and his team is able to provide a solution that rivals the titans.
Remember crowd funding platforms?
Traditionally an entrepreneur will spend a significant amount of effort on acquiring angel investments via banks, angel investors, and venture capital firms or perhaps family & friends. Interestingly, according to FUNDABLE, the first recorded successful instance of crowdfunding occurred in 1997, when a British rock band funded their reunion tour through online donations from fans. Inspired by this innovative method of financing, ArtistShare became the first dedicated crowdfunding platform in 2000. XROUND took this path for their entrepreneurship, and have successfully conducted two campaigns:
- The company took one of their first products – the XPump Premium on the shelf of FlyingV (a well-known crowdfunding platform in Taiwan) in 2018. The successful campaign took the company a mere two months (3rd May 2018 ~ 3rd July 2018) to hit and overkill set target (set at NT$500,000 and hit on NT$16,355,705).
- The most recent product on the shelf of FlyingV is the VERSA wireless headset. The successful campaign took another record setting three months (19th September 2019 ~ 3rd December 2019) to hit and once again over exceeded their set target (set at NT$500,000 and hit on NT$29,837,646).
So, crowdfunding platforms are highly recommended? Well, Mr. Lee kindly shared his thoughts on this:
- Crowdfunding platform is no longer as simple as it used to be, backers are now expecting entrepreneurs to provide not only quality products / services, but also high quality marketing materials (such as videos / pictures).
- Therefore, marketing campaigns needs to be woven into the whole product cycle, and definitely not an afterthought.
- Quality control, manufacturing lead time and delivery period are also important aspects of the whole crowdfunding campaign.
- Nowadays, very importantly, the integration of various marketing channels and platforms plays a vital part too. This is directly related to the target market (in terms of location), XROUND was set out to target internally, but will commence from the Asia Pacific Region. It is important to understand how your target market needed to be approached.
Obviously not all products are suitable for crowdfunding platforms such as FlyingV, Kickstarter or Indiegogo, tech-startups needs to determine compatibility for themselves. Perhaps, equity crowdfunding such as WeFunder or LocalStake can also be considered for your startup business. Certainly, all startups welcome investments! XROUND welcomes strategic partners to join onboard for their exciting roadmap to provide revolutionary solutions to the public.
When portable audio becomes wearable tech
Lastly, Mr. Lee further explains that the portable audio industry is at a very exciting stage. New technology breakthroughs made it is possible to provide more than just audio to our ears, but other valuable applications too! The future for this industry is optimistic and can expect very interesting products during the 2020 InnoVEX.
The upcoming 2020 InnoVEX will take place on 3rd ~ 5th June 2020 at Taipei, Taiwan. It is one of the most important international B2B tech-startup expos in Asia! InnoVEX provides a complete tech-startup ecosystem that includes exhibition, business matchmaking, pitch contest and more! Exhibitors wishing to secure using the regular rate, please complete registration before end of February 2020.