Most people would agree that standard earphones leave a lot to be desired. They are uncomfortable, tend to slip out of your ears, and aren’t too great at filtering out background noise.
What if you could find an affordable earbud option that molds to your inner ear for a perfect, custom fit? And what if, by purchasing these earphones, you could also benefit from the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with supporting a worthy cause?
It sounds too good to be true, but not if Audibility co-founders Brian Carter and Gilbert Resendez get their way. Here, they tell us more:
What was the spark that inspired the birth of your concept?
Long story short, we worked together on a business capstone project at the University of Portland. We really wanted to develop a business concept that worked to address a lack of access to hearing aids for those with hearing loss. With this in mind, Audibility was born as a consumer headphone company that aims to improve everyone’s listening experience through well designed custom fit headphones for everyday listeners, and access to hearing aids through our partner foundation.
What problem does it solve?
We all know that most earphones and headphones are uncomfortable and fit poorly. Audibility offers headphones that mold to your unique ear-print for perfect comfort. With customized ear molds, you can finally achieve a more personalized, secure, and comfortable fit. In addition to providing better fit, our custom-fit mold improves sound isolation and background noise reduction.
Furthermore, Audibility operates through a giving model in which for every pair of headphones sold, we give to our partner foundation to improve access to hearing aids and audiological services in underdeveloped countries.
How did you come up with the name?
In the English language, “audibility” generally refers to the quality of being heard. Hence, we use the name Audibility to capture our mission to improve everyone’s listening experience, whether through custom-fit, or sound modifying technologies we hope to implement in our future products.
How are you better than your competition?
The majority of earphones and headphones are not made to fit your unique ear. Everyone’s ear is different, just like a fingerprint. At Audibility, we recognize the need to customize headphones to ensure comfort and quality. While other custom-fit options do exist, they often require excessive time and money as they require users to visit an audiologist for fitting, or to send images of their ears. Audibility headphones are a “one-stop” solution to achieving an affordable and custom fit.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Gilbert – The best part about being an entrepreneur is getting to work for yourself, and make decisions that impact the livelihood of the company at large.
Brian – I really enjoy how robust an experience it is. Every day I get to work on something different, and I don’t go a minute without the challenge and reward of learning something new.
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
It’s been a surprise to us both the amount of work and energy required to keep a venture afloat. Home is just as good a place to work as the office! We’ve also quickly learned the need to be flexible. There will always be unexpected hurdles that demand an open mind and willingness to let go.
Your biggest success?
We’re very proud winners of the PDX Startup Challenge, which awarded us one year of free office space as well as funding and access to many professional services, mentors, and entrepreneurial organizations throughout Portland.
Do you have a failure story to share? What did you learn from this failure?
We’ve most recently failed to reach our fundraising goal on Kickstarter. Our experience with Kickstarter has given us great insight into potential target markets that we plan to learn more about and address in a second re-launch Kickstarter campaign. Because of this failure, we have a much better understanding of how to gain traction through our story-telling and promotion of our product.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
Cash flow! Sales! Marketing and product positioning!
What is the #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur?
We really enjoyed The Wide Lens by Ron Adner. He does a great job at discussing innovation and what successful innovators like Steve Jobs see when setting out to make their companies successful.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
Lose Yourself by Eminem. He has a line: “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity/To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment/Would you capture it or just let it slip?” That’s essentially what entrepreneurship is.
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like?
We become the “Warby Parker” of headphones.
What’s your favorite local business and why?
We really like Charlie’s Deli in Chinatown because they have great sandwiches and are close to our office.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
We both wanted to be doctors!
Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business?
Oregon is the best place to start a business! While other cities may have more resources or capital available, Portland can out-collaborate any other city.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received?
Don’t be afraid to pivot!
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
Pick something you’re passionate about and work hard at it, but don’t be too attached to the idea. Sometimes your best opportunities lie just outside your comfort zone. Also, drink lots of coffee!
Any other advice?
When you’re in a business with a co-founder you’re basically in a marriage – you share money, are responsible for making this business grow, and spend tons of time together. Communication and setting expectations for the partnership earlier rather than later is key to success!