Kickstarter is live!!

Wow we have made it to Kickstarter and we are super excited.  Check us out here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703611463/earshot-completely-cordless-action-headphones

A massive thanks to all the people who have contributed to us getting to this point...

  • Our advisory team...
    • Sharon Bryant
    • Lucy Leahy
    • Al Monro
    • Ross Jenkins
    • Ben Wilde
  • My Dad, Mark, for his constant inspiration and brand/comms ideas...Earshot was his idea!
  • James Simpson and Elle Bryant from www.freshlyground.co.nz, always pushing, but at the same time understanding the journey
  • BCC, the best business incubator around.  The support they have provided us has been amazing. 
  • My family, Steph and Tom, for putting up with the crazyness 
  • All the people who have given up their valuable time to test and give feedback on the product:
    • Krista Jensen, Sheree Horvath, John Miller, Jesse Bailey, Sam Drummond, Ross Tunmer, Anna Gregory, Dan Popata, Bryn Dickerson, Ben Wilde, Leah Moana Mataira, Darci Brostow, Jono  Kennedy 

Mates making time for adventure

Jeweler Sam Drummond and a crew of five guys from all different walks of life, leave the house every Saturday morning to run. For anywhere between 20-40kms. Most people think this is a crazy hour, but for them it keeps them grounded. The city is dark at 5am, the air is crisp and fingers are numb trying to tie the laces on well-worn sneakers. But they do it, because of the profound sense of clarity they experience from getting out and running. Together. A form of meditation, ‘clearing out the cobwebs’, or as Sam would say ‘it gets me out of my head’. Its no secret running impacts positively on the brain. Studies have recorded a positive link between exercise and an increased blood flow, to the frontal executive network system of the brain. This area is associated with many of the attributes we link with ‘clear thinking’, such as concentration, time management and planning. This area is also known to be linked to emotion regulation.

 

Sam Drummond wasn’t always a running enthusiast, but starting running with a friend in 2009 and realized “i’m good at this”, which sparked a passion, that has seen him go on to compete in many events traversing rugged terrain throughout New Zealand. The camaraderie and determination of this group, energizes them all to set goals and spur each other on. They recently set a goal to circumnavigate three New Zealand mountains in a calendar year. After a few navigation issues (thanks to the lack of rural sign posts!), they did it... or in the words one of them quoting Edmund Hilary, “we knocked the bastards off”. Could there be any better place to run, than out of the confines of the city. Running in native bush, scrambling up hills and navigating new territory in rain, hail or shine? This is what gets the blood pumping for these guys and makes them feel alive. It is also the beauty of New Zealand, in which you can live in a city, and have a rugged landscape right on your doorstep.

 

There is a certain level of speed and endurance this crew enjoy, but within this there is a grace for age, or those with an injury, with a touch of sarcastic wit to challenge each other to “speed up” or “get hard’ as the last one back is shouting the coffees. Some may say unlikely friendships have formed, focused around the pursuit of an outdoor passion and doing something which enables them to be better fathers, husbands, partners or employers. These men run while most of us are still tucked up in bed anticipating our alarms or brewing our morning coffee. Its not easy. But this time works, as they have children at home to help with, businesses to operate to make a living, and a life to live- in which they have discovered what energizes and keeps them balanced.

Keep coffee cups out of landfill

Takeaway coffee cups are a real problem.  It is super awesome that there are new technologies that mean the takeaway cups are biodegradable or recyclable.  BUT, in order for them to break down they have to end up in the recycling system or the system needed for them to bio-degrade.  Unfortunately, we mostly end up putting our takeaway coffee cups in the rubbish where they end up with all the other rubbish...in the landfill.  

At Earshot we are trying our best to have as little waste as possible and be as carbon neutral as we can.  SOOOO, at Earshot we all have Keepcups.  I am pretty stoked that I can say that I have used under 5 takeaway coffee cups since the start of 2017.  I have been known on the odd occasion to ask a barista to clean my cup for me.  Or, if I am on a roadtrip and 30 minutes in, turn around to get my Keep Cup.

We want to play the long game with the environment, so please join us!

James - Co-founder of Earshot

 

Head Southward, break the routine

Atawhai Charteris recently became one of the youngest men to walk the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff, which is approximately 3000kms. In some respects, he is an ordinary teenager, who is finishing school, living in the surf town of Raglan, hanging out with his friends and looking for that next ‘sick’ wave. But what struck us about Atawhai, is that there is nothing ordinary about him. He has a thoughtful and insightful outlook on life for someone so young. He wants to take responsibility for his own decisions, doing what makes him happy and not necessarily what is expected. Atawhai explained that his adventure was about inspiring people to seek “authenticity” and to “celebrate a connectedness with people in real life”. Concepts some of us are only beginning to grapple with in our later years.

This adventure was spurred on by a desire to do something "radically different" from what he was doing and something which scared him. Seeing a world in which negativity & hatred is highlighted in our news and social media feeds - he wanted to embrace the positive stories of every day New Zealander’s and those unsung heroes caring for our people and our beautiful environment. A talented film maker and photographer with a captivating style- he has documented his experiences in ‘The Southward Project’.  We supported Atawhai in this endeavor and so spent some time with him recently to hear more about his journey.

Documenting his experiences through film and photography, is what Atawhai loves -”visual storytelling and the cinematic side of film”. Therefore, he wanted to help the community in his way, and worked with Forest & Bird on highlighting their conservation projects along the way. As a filmmaker, his hope was to capture a story that inspires humans to consider their relationship with adventure while promoting the preservation of wild and uncharted places. Atawhai spoke of the diversity in the landscape of New Zealand; “its ridiculous, you can be in farmland and then over the next hill is bush, mountains, and then around the corner and you are at beaches!”. Living in a comparatively small country which is not densely populated, the natural terrain retains a rugged untouched beauty, and navigating the landscape was both physically and mentally tough. The support from Torpedo 7, an outdoor adventure equipment company, was invaluable for Atawhai, as they provided him with all the gear he needed to be safe and prepared in the environment.

Walking the length of New Zealand allowed him to meet & connect with many people along the way - “we were all going through the same struggles; hungry, cold and sore”. He had limited access to the internet, and reflected that connecting with people in “real time” is what it was like in his grandfathers’ era. The reliance on devices in the current world, particularly cellular phones has become prolific, in which any spare moment is filled with scrolling and updates. How is this affecting us and our ability to connect? To be in the moment? The New York times recently posted an article, in which New Zealand physiotherapist Steve August identifies increasing negative effects on our physical state from what he calls the ‘ihunch’- slumped shoulders, head down and an unnatural posture, which is a result of constantly looking at devices. Amy Cuddy, professor at Harvard Business School and author, stated in summary of this article, “your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture, and could be the key to a happier mood and greater self-confidence”. We reflected with Atawhai on ‘The Southward Project’, in that one of the underlying premises of his journey, was about connecting, but also disconnecting.

So what next for Atawhai? He said he has been “loving having time to relax”, after the physicality of his trip. He will focus on finishing his last year of school, whilst working on collating the footage from ‘The Southward Project’, which will take time to edit and tell his story. He is working through film release options, but said he would like to have a photographic exhibition in his home town Raglan. Atawhai has also been invited to speak at a few public events, a new challenge for him, which he is embracing. Nothing is set in concrete for after he finishes school - university is an option, but he just wants to figure out what he is really passionate about and do it.

 

 

Idea - Prototype - Kickstarter

THE IDEA

We need your help.  We are getting ready to launch our product and need your help to get our product manufactured and out to people around the world. READ ON IF YOU ARE UP FOR IT!  People talk about how it takes three years to make an overnight success...they were right!!

We started back in early 2015, with a problem; I was training for a trail run, it was called the T42 and is set in the picturesque Tongariro national park in New Zealand.   Training runs always started with getting the gear together, one of the pieces of gear was headphones and phone for music.  What I got frustrated by was this:

  • Too much fiddling around with headphone set up...bands on arms, fiddly fitting of headphones and the many 'sizes' of tiny components to fit my ears
  • Cords constantly getting pulled on or yanked during warm ups or the other activities that go on while trail running or mountain biking
  • Constant doubt that the headphones are not stable in the ears
  • Painful earbuds I have to drill into my ears to get them to stay

We just wanted to make something that you PUT ON AND FORGET THEY ARE EVEN THERE.

THE PROTOTYPE

So we got building and invented the Magnetic Shock Lock system.   This system is a WORLDS FIRST and uses magnets in the earbud and the arm to secure the headphones to your ears.  It has taken us hundreds of prototypes, thousands of hours of testing time, many sore ears, hundreds of discussions and testing sessions with various athletes and we finally cracked it.  

 

KICKSTARTER

We need help.  We have bootstrapped (spent all our own money) our way to this point where we have nailed the Shock Lock system and the design of the product.  But being two lads from New Zealand, both with day jobs and working on this on the side, we need your help.  We are launching a Kickstarter campaign that gives people a chance to pre-purchase our headphones.  By pre-purchasing you are providing us the much needed money we need to get our first batch of headphones made and out to customers. 

 

 

Welcome to the workshop (my kitchen table)

In the early stages of prototyping, my kitchen table has been my workshop.   My family puts up with crap all over the kitchen, from polystyrene balls, craft knifes to lots and lots of magnets.  I guess the positive part is that they can see that I am working and not taking the piss when I say that I am working hard on making this product work.  You can even track some of the genesis of the product through shots of us working at the kitchen table. 

One of the best outdoor adventure playgrounds on the planet

We aren't sure how this whole product will fly, but we definitely think that the best action headphones should be created in one of the best adventure playgrounds in the world.  Most of our lives we have been in New Zealand, where adventure and the outdoors is our back yard, literally.  Within a really short distance we are fortunte to have amazing place to go to test out our headphones.  Here are some of our favourite spots...

  • Central plateau for hiking, running and mountain biking
  • Rotorua for mountain biking, kayaking & rafting, hiking and trail running
  • Raglan for surfing
  • Wanaka for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, running
  • Catlins, South Island for surfing and camping

We are trying to get to all these places to test our products in some the most amazing environments on the planet

Just F*%#@ing DO IT!

After we attempted our first prototype...it failed miserably.   I was super down…

 

‘What was I doing with my life?’

 

‘Am I wasting my time?’

 

I decided to speak to a mentor of mine at the time, Richard Curtis.  He was a colleague and really understood what it took to turn an idea into a reality.  I remember distinctly sitting down with him over a coffee.  This was not an irregular thing between Richard and I.  I would often pontificate about this idea, the best way to approach it, how do I make sure it works, is it worth it...

 

‘Richard, so this has happened, the first prototype was s%^$, I am not sure whether I should keep going’ I said to him. 

 

His frustration with me was obvious, he was looking down at the floor, rubbing his forehead between his fingers and thumb, leg jiggling… he looked at me with an intense stare..

 

‘Just F^&*^&*^ DO IT’

 

That sticks with me to this day.   Thanks Dr Richard Curtis!

 

It started on the trail

The idea for Earshot came when I wish it hadn’t...  I was training for a trail run called the T42, a run through New Zealand’s most amazing scenery.  I had just closed down a start-up I had been working on called ‘Weava’, we were trying to solve a problem that it turned out was rather obscure to the people I had hoped would pay for it.  I had gone back to work a day job and had a desire to take it a little easier...then 45mins into a trail run...my headphones came loose...I put them back, five minutes later they came lose again, the sweat in my ears meant they weren’t really working...I put them back.  Ten minutes later, I leaped a creek, they came out again...I put them back, I hit the stairs, leaping two steps at a time, my headphones came out again...in frustration, I stopped, killing my rhythm and put my headphones in my bag…

 

’have these electronics guys never run for more than five minutes in their life?’  

'have they tried their products anywhere other than a treadmill?'

‘Has anyone who designs these products ever actually tried to set a pace for a run and understand the focus required to maintain a speed per km?’

‘Don’t these guys realise how frustrating it is to have your focus disrupted because you are having to keep re-adjusting your headphones?’

This was what was going through my head as I continue to run…

I drove home and my brain thinking how do you solve this...how do you have a set of headphones that simply just…

‘Stay where they are’

‘Feel weightless’

‘Anchors during even the most explosive and varied movement’

'I should be able to sweat buckets and they still stay in'

‘Never distracts me from achieving my goals and keeps my mindset in place’


I thought there must be a way...and started brainstorming