Running a Running Start-Up
by Andy Proos and Emily Proos
With the ever increasing number if fitness based startups, it’s easy to believe that anyone can get a company off of the ground. Well, the truth couldn’t be any more disappointing. Especially in the technology sector, new business ideas go through so many challenges before ever seeing a return. As enthusiasts or industry members, there are many lessons to be learned from these stories and Bluewire Audio happens to provide us with jus that.
Speaker System – Our speakers sit inside a custom designed housing that directs sound downwards towards the user’s ears to allow for the optimal combination of music/audio and ambient sound. The speakers attach securely and interchangeably to our specially designed hats, visors and headbands with all wires hidden inside the band of the hat. They can be adjusted to direct sound slightly forward or back depending on the user’s preference.
Bluetooth Receiver – Our bluetooth receiver is rugged, but light and compact. It is designed to easily clip to the back of our hats and visors, and will seamlessly pair with any bluetooth-enabled smartphone or audio device.
Hats – Our running hats, baseball caps, visors and headbands are custom designed to accept our unique speaker system and bluetooth receiver. There are small holes on either side of the hat that secure the speakers comfortably above the user’s ears. The speaker system is removable so that our hats can easily be washed. We have two talented designers on board who will help make our hats something you’ll want to wear!
As a father daughter duo, Andy and Emily Proos strive to release their running audio technology to the world, and this is their story so far:
We’ve been working on a great idea for wearable technology for runners officially since 2014, and longer if you count the inspiration, the initial discussions, and the countless homemade prototypes along the way. It’s taking us longer than we initially thought to bring our product to market, and we’ve experienced our fair share of setbacks and disappointments, but after each one, we come back to our idea a little more humble but much more passionate to see our vision to fruition.
While we haven’t reached our end goal yet, we’ve been on the path long enough to have learned a few things about running a running start-up. For starters, anyone interested in starting their own business should have a great idea as their impetus. You’re much more likely to be successful if you start your business on an idea that you’re passionate about, an idea that you think fills a need, and an idea that you believe in. If we didn’t believe in the benefits of speakers that are mounted to a hat, which allows runners to both listen to music and hear the ambient noise around them (think ambulance siren, or a stranger who’s a little too close), our business would not have come as far as it has.
Flexibility and Adaptation
Being flexible is another important lesson. How you initially envision your new business may not be how it develops. Contingency plans are not just smart business sense – they can sometimes save the day. Be open to changes and even different directions, as this might be a more practical direction, or a better direction in the long run.
Spreading the word about our product, and our process, has been incredibly important. Startups (especially those focused in areas with strong, loyal communities like the fitness and running worlds) can only do better with a customized marketing plan that makes the most sense for what you’re trying to accomplish. Using advertising, public relations, your website and social media will go far toward letting people know who you are and what your business is all about, as well as getting in front of the right people and building your network.
Form a Tribe for Success
Recognizing your limitations, and working with others to rise above them, may be one of the more humbling lessons we have learned so far, but it’s one of the most important. In our case, we have a great idea for a product that’s an alternative to headphones, but our background is in business and medicine. We don’t have to be experts in speaker technology or prototype design to come up with a great product, but we do need to identify good business partners who have the expertise to make our vision a reality.
As a father-daughter team, it’s easy to see that we work with people that we trust and get along well with. When we choose our partners, we’ve come to realize how important it is to be surrounded by like-minded people. That’s not to say that we’re looking for people who agree with our every thought, but we are looking for people who want to help us make our business be the best it can be.
When we initially set out in this business, we thought by now that we would have mass-produced our speakers and be introducing them to new potential buyers. Instead, we’ve taken a step back to improve our product based on feedback and available technologies. We’re staying optimistic, and working through the challenges by shifting our thinking when we can, and accepting the situation when that’s all that’s left to do. Although it wasn’t an easy decision, in the end we know that we’ll be offering runners a product that they really want, and that will make their lives better, and safer.
Andy Proos (President) and Emily Proos (CEO) founded Bluewire Audio LLC (www.bluewireaudio.com) in 2014. The father-daughter company is based on their idea for a speaker system that is mounted on the band of a hat or visor, allowing the wearer to listen to audio while engaged in physical activity without the inconvenience or safety concerns of wires and earbuds.