RGI talked to Anton, Director of Development from Soundboks, about their innovation processes, their culture and the future of the speaker industry.
Soundboks is on its way to become a lifestyle brand, built around a high quality product, with a strong focus on extreme users. Their approach to innovation and the way how they interact with their users and implement their feedback is likely to shape the speaker industry.
The idea started off when a bunch of high schoolers wanted to get the most out of one of Europe’s finest festivals - Roskilde! They were craving for speakers that could perform better on festivals: lasting hardware, easy connection, lasting battery and at its core: being the loudest speaker on the festival! Going forward, about 25 friends invested into the idea and the guys started building their own speakers, which were soon in high demand.
Don’t just sell products but experiences
Soundboks focuses on creating speakers for extreme users: the innovative party makers. Not only do they sell high quality products, but the SOUNDBOKS embodies a way of listening to music. The core strategy is focused on creating a full user experience for a narrow target segment, which requires an excellent understanding of the customers’ needs. As Soundboks produces high quality speakers that are made for the Extreme, they use pilot groups that test the products under extreme conditions, like partying on the top of a mountain or in the jungle. The testers are at the same time acting as brand ambassadors, sharing their experiences on social media. This way a strong image is built and more people want to belong to the community. To further develop the product and the experience, the main focus is on implementing feedback from the focus groups. Feedback from other users is second to that.
Use software updates to continuously include user feedback
Focusing on one idea and getting the best out of it is more important to Soundboks than short term sales through semi-good products. This is why they only offer one product, but continuously develop it. Heavy effort is being put into both, hardware and software features of the SOUNDBOKS. Especially the software is a USP (unique selling proposition) as it enables the user to update the product via wireless connection. Soundboks can implement user feedback through software updates and be more individualised and customer friendly. The software is also important for them as it makes it hard for competitors to copy their idea: copying the hardware alone would not be enough!
Main Takeaway: Constantly ask your most important users for feedback and implement it right away to ensure customer satisfaction.
Take time to listen to ideas of employees
People at Soundboks talk to each other like friends, without signs of hierarchy. Soundboks creates a very familiar atmosphere where nobody fears to speak up - employees can talk to Anton at eye level about any idea they have. He challenges them in a one-on-one conversation and they together discuss the viability of the concept. Possibly viable ideas are stored in an idea data bank until the next management meeting comes up. It is then discussed in the management team whether the new ideas should be further pursued.
Main Takeaway: If you want your employees to openly approach you with their ideas, treat them like friends and listen to them.
Create diversity to increase the quantity and quality of new ideas
Having started the company with friends from the same social network has partially limited Soundboks’ innovation capabilities. Mixing up people with different backgrounds and cultures lets innovation fully thrive. Anton recognizes a huge positive influence in the cultural growth of Soundboks through hiring people with all kinds of backgrounds. The diversity brings new and different ideas to the table and creates an innovation-driven spirit.
Main Takeaway: Look for people that are different than the ones already working in the company in order to be more innovative.
Be aware of pros and cons of having a managerial education
Anton sees very much creativity coming from the fact of not going through managerial education. According to him, Soundboks’ success was rather based on working on own ideas and learning by doing. It shows that to be innovative and entrepreneurial, you don’t necessarily need a university degree. Of course the lack of a business education can also have a negative impact. Quite early in the process for example, Soundboks had misjudged the relationship with a supplier and had to start completely from scratch in order to stay independent from that supplier. They started to invest in people with experience in strategy and management and hired a senior finance manager from a well known company. This way, the company creates a unique balance: creativity and lightheartedness on the one hand, and managerial direction and market experience on the other.
Main Takeaway: Not having a university degree can help to approach issues without too much thinking, but at one point managerial experience is needed to grow the company.
Future of Soundboks and the speaker industry
Anton first of all strongly believes in the importance of user experience (UX). Second he is sure that it needs to be easy to update products to keep up with user requirements. According to him, SOUNDBOKS and the speaker industry will both be shaped by having superior UX, based on user feedback that is implemented through remote software updates. An increase in connectivity will at the same time reduce the need for cables and increase UX by furthering enhanced convenience. All of those aspects combined lead to better quality products and ease of operating speakers.
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