Soundbrenner, maker of one of the most unusual but useful smart gadgets out there, has secured US$1.5 million in funding.
The cash, from anonymous angel investors, will help the fledgling Hong Kong-based hardware startup build the next gadget to come after its debut Soundbrenner Pulse, a wearable metronome for musicians. Co-founder Florian Simmendinger says it’s available in “over 30 countries, including all 270 Guitar Center stores across the United States,” which is quick progress from its Indiegogo campaign in early 2015, followed by its retail launch early 2016. There’s no word on total sales so far.
The Pulse, worn on the wrist, forearm, or ankle, noiselessly vibrates a set, metronomic rhythm in conjunction with its companion mobile app.
Whatever form the new product takes, it’ll move the startup deeper into the music education market, which Florian describes as a US$4.5 billion global opportunity.
Plus, the team will take the Pulse into new, sizeable markets, such as Canada, Australia, and Russia.
Florian, born in Germany, is one of a growing number of overseas entrepreneurs setting up shop in Hong Kong. The last time Alibaba’s Hong Kong fund backed a bunch of local startups, two of the three were run by international crews.
His business started out in Berlin, but Florian found it difficult to build prototypes there. When he ran into Manav Gupta, CEO of Brinc, a startup accelerator focused on hardware in Hong Kong, Florian realized that the “fragrant harbor” was the place to be.
“We just moved into a bigger office space in the same building late last year to accommodate our growing team, so we’re staying put for a while,” Florian tells Tech in Asia. The crew of 12 now has a space in bustling Central, near the iconic Victoria Peak tram.
He likes being “close to the manufacturing base in Shenzhen,” which suits a firm building hardware. “It’s easy to do business in Hong Kong given its rule of law, English speaking, and blend of East and West,” the CEO adds. “Hong Kong is also a global logistics hub, making it easy for us to expand distribution to additional markets from our home base.”
At 27, Florian is new to startups.
“I started my company right after graduating from university, with a degree in business and no formal training or work experience. Neither did I have a deep understanding of electronics, mobile apps, manufacturing, the music industry or anything else that was important for what we were planning to do,” he conceded last year in a post on Tech in Asia. “As someone who plays music and loves technology, I just knew there was an existing market for metronomes, and an unmet need for a more modern solution that technology could solve. Somehow it all turned out quite nicely, but it was certainly a difficult journey.”
Now, looking back on the early days, he seems to have found his modus operandi. “I can’t stress enough on how important it is to focus rather than getting distracted by pursuing too many paths,” he says.
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