By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Chula Vista, Calif. – Industry veteran Jeremy Burkhardt, the new owner of Soundcast Systems, is pledging to invest more resources in the wireless-audio company.
His goal is to strengthen its sales and marketing efforts, accelerate product development, and offer new products that will reinforce the company’s appeal to users of smartphones and tablets.
Last week, Burkhardt purchased 100 percent of Soundcast and all of Soundcast’s patents for an undisclosed price less than a year after leaving left Nortek brand SpeakerCraft.
Burkhardt called Soundcast a company with strong technologies and products in need of resources to build sales. “With our added people and resources, we will strengthen our customer service, technical support, product time-to-market and new product innovations,” he said. “They’ve lacked the capital resources to grow the business with more products, marketing and field training initiatives that are necessary for its dealers.”
Soundcast currently offers battery-operated outdoor speakers that wirelessly stream music from a PC or from a tabletop iPod/iPhone dock up to 300 feet away. The single-chassis cylindrical stereo speakers, which disperse sound in a 360-degree pattern, retail for $899 and $599. The company also offers wireless transmitters and receivers to send audio wirelessly to a subwoofer and surround speakers.
The company uses proprietary 2.4GHz frequency-hopping technology to transmit music and has a “deep patent portfolio” in such areas as wireless, DSP, amplification and technology that extends battery life, Burkhardt said.
To extend the brand’s appeal, Soundcast in late June plans to ship its first portable Bluetooth speaker, a high-end model that was partially developed during the previous owner’s reign. “Bluetooth will be in all of our products going forward,” Burkhardt added. He wouldn’t say whether the company is considering wireless systems that use Wi-Fi to stream music from tablets and smartphones, perhaps in conjunction with the company’s proprietary 2.4GHz technology.
To accelerate new-product development, Burkhardt said he would be “hiring the right new technologists who will allow us to grow the business.” The company also “plans to acquire the best talent in the industry by giving away chunks of the company.”
The company, however, will hold onto president Mike Weaver and Oscar Ciornei, head of business development. The company has hired Nicholas Berry, whose has experience as a project manager in the residential high-rise industry, as marketing VP, and Jeff Francisco, former SpeakerCraft chief technical officer, as Soundcast chief technical officer.
The marketing team will put the go-to-market strategy under the microscope, with Burkhardt pointing to the company’s success in selling wireless speakers through distributors that sell to high-end outdoor furniture retailers. As for the company’s national rep network, Burkhardt said he is “happy with the performance of a lot of them.”
In a separate move, Soundcast intends to go after patent violators, Burkhardt said. Many companies are violating Soundcast patents, he claimed.
Burkhardt earlier this year filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that he is not violating non-compete restrictions that Nortek might try to enforce even though they have expired, he said.
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