Monday, October 14, 2013
How Deka Sounds Is Using 3D Printing For Your Next Bluetooth Headset
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
There's been a revolution in the last few years with the dropping price and increasing accessibility of 3D printers--those devices which let you print practically anything using just your own personal computer, 3D software, and a special printer. One of the startups to come out of that 3D printing revolution is Deka Sounds (www.dekasounds.com), which is based in Orange County. We caught up with founder and CEO Erik Adams to hear more about what is startup is up to, and how it's trying to use the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to raise money for its startup.
What is Deka Sounds?
Erik Adams: Deka makes a fashionable, customizable, personalized Bluetooth headset. We've taken the normal look of your Bluetooth, and made it more fashionable. We've put a spin on this, where you can use your own personalization or custom designs for your own Bluetooth headset, just like you would create a personalized case for your smartphone.
Where'd the idea for the company come from?
Erik Adams: When Bluetooth first came out, it was pretty hot, and everyone was wearing them. One day, my wife walked in, and had this gray, robotic Bluetooth in her ear. I thought it looked clunky, and I said to her that there had to be a different way, and that there must be something better. I had the idea that instead of a gray box, it would be great to change that to a beautiful flower. The idea spun out from there, and I even got on a plane and went to China to talk to manufacturers, to convince those Bluetooth manufacturers to change their designs from gray, robotic squares to a beautiful flower. I got a lot of pushback--none of them wanted to change their designs, and no one thought anyone would wear a flower. Finally, I started pushing the idea, like a vacuum cleaner sales men, showing it to retailers and vendors, and it finally caught on. People liked it, but were suprised noe one was doing it themselves. Two years later, with the new fad of 3d printing, I took that idea and fused it into our Bluetooth design. You can now buy our Bluetooth by itself--it's fashionable, small, and round--but you can also change it out. You can buy one Bluetooth, and have a basketball one day, a flower the next day, a racecar, the American flag, any other country's flag, a picture of your dog--anything you can imagine, we can design and put it on the Bluetooth.
What is your background?
Erik Adams: I actually started in the dry cleaning business. In 1992, when I was in college, I worked for a gentleman here in Irvine who was in the dry cleaning business. I had done some modeling, I had done some acting, but when I saw what my boss was doing, I bought a dry cleaners. For fifteen years, I owned four dry cleaners in Irvine, and sold those in 2007. I took some time off with my family, and in 2009 and 2010 came up with this idea for the Bluetooth.
Why raise money on Indiegogo?
Erik Adams: It's more of a validation of the idea, and to pique people's interest. We really have the chance to change what's the norm, and by putting it oiut there we can see how people will respond to something totally different. We're using Indiegogo to reach more eyes, take it national, and even worldwide, and hopefully make Bluetooth cool again. We want it so you don' t have to be embarassed to wear it, so it can also be a fashion statement, and show your personality.
When did you realize that 3D printing could enable your business?
Erik Adams: I had gone to a show in Las Vegas, and noticed the whole interest over Makerbot and 3D printing. Everyone was trying to 3D print everything. We had already been creating designs such as a daisy, a skull, and a basketball for our Bluetooth, and I was approached by a woman who wanted a flower earring she wished she could turn into a Bluetooth. It dawned on me that I could, with 3D printing. I decided we'd patent a sliding mechanism on our Bluetooth, and use 3D printers to take pictures that people send to us, and my company will design a Bluetooth based on their picture, on our 3D printer. That's the idea behind the 3D printing concept.
This is a crowded market. What's your competitive advantage against others in the headset/accessories market?
Erik Adams: Yes, there are lots of Bluetooth companies out there, the Jawbones of the world, the Plantronics. Our competitive advantage is fashion. Those other companies are based on technical functionality. Our quality is up there with the top makers, but we're different because no one else is putting a spin on this with fashion and customization. There's not any Bluetooth out there right now doing this. The market is changing. Look at companies like Apple, which is now making green, gold, and yellow phones. People don't want the normal black phone or white phone, they want color, and something different. If you look at people with their iPhones and phone covers, you see they change them all the time. It's just like how people would buy ringtones, buying three or four for their phone. My thing, is you can buy one Bluetooth, and customize it anytime you want with our slides, which is our advantage over everyone else out there. With our Bluetooth headsets, you can have one Bluetooth that can look like 50 different Bluetooth headsets, on 50 different days. That's our competitive advantage.
Thanks, and good luck!