How do I stop feeling old
Daniel Büttner: If you want to feel, you also have to hear
He wanted the absolute sound, now he has it: Daniel Büttner developed the basslet.
The rock concert on the arm, going for a swim in the bass or techno to go: The Berlin hardware startup Lofelt wants to make this possible via a basslet, a new bracelet that transfers music to the body. The first prototype was financed by crowdfunding with a whopping 600,000 euros. Now Basslet is coming out. We talked to inventor and founder Daniel Büttner and crowdfunding campaigner Susanne Marcus about the meaning, purpose, vision and future of rich sound in physically tangible worlds.
CCB Magazin: Hello Daniel, hello Susanne, you have a nice bracelet. How often are you actually asked what that is?
Susanne: Oh, very often. People either ask “what is that?” Or “is that a watch?” Or also: “is this the new fitness tracker?”. Then I clear up and say that this is the basslet. I'm looking forward to people asking: "Is that a basslet?"
CCB Magazin: Tell me, how did you come up with the idea of producing an Armand that transfers music to the body?
Daniel: I am a musician myself and have been playing the double bass since I was 14 years old. The ability to feel music has always fascinated me. When I worked as a product manager at the Berlin music software company Ableton from 2006 to 2014, I was responsible for all products in the field of instruments and sound design. And this is where the idea for Basslet arose: Together with hardware expert Gwydion ap Dafydd, who was working at Native Instruments at the time, I developed the first prototype in 2014. I then showed it to friends. Suddenly I had a dozen orders. I knew then that something like this was needed.
Listening to music via the basslet feels like holding a double bass in your hand or standing in front of a box
CCB Magazin: How exactly does Basslet work?
Susanne: The basslet is laid out like a clock. In addition, it includes a small transmitter that can be plugged between the headphones and the audio source. Using a new type of sound technology, the deep music frequencies are then transmitted directly to the body. Listening to music feels like holding a double bass in your hand or standing in front of a box. The intensity can be regulated on the basslet itself. Here, try it.
Affects the ears, but also affects the body: hearing with the basslet. Photo: © Lofelt.
CCB Magazin: Oh yes, twitches a lot. Is Basslet designed for the wrist only? I could imagine that others would find the vibration better on other parts of the body such as the stomach or foot.
Daniel: We have optimized the basslet for the wrist, but you can also wear it on your foot or anywhere else on your body. The interesting thing is that we do not perceive the physical dimension of music separately, but that our brain combines the sound and the vibration into something holistic - even if the vibration is only transmitted to one part of the body. You have to use the basslet a few times, then it doesn't feel as if the vibration is limited to the wrist.
CCB Magazin: You financed Basslet through crowdfunding on Kickstarter. You poured a whopping 600,000 euros into the coffers. That’s neat. Did you expect that?
Susanne: No, not at all! Our financing target was actually 50,000 euros, in the end it was more than 10 times that. Of course we had hoped that we would exceed the target amount, but nobody really believed in that extent.
CCB Magazin: What did you originally plan the 50,000 for? And what are you using the current 600,000 euros for?
Susanne: We would have needed the 50,000 euros to even go into production. But it wasn't just about money for us. Our goal was to get our idea out of our office and to the people. Before the campaign, we had done over 500 user tests to get a feel for who we were doing this for. We wanted to use the campaign to find out whether the masses want such a product.
In conversation with Creative City Berlin: Susanne Marcus. Photo: © Lofelt.
CCB Magazin: What do you attribute your success to? Was the product so promising or was your campaign so good?
Susanne: I would say both. First of all, of course, it helped us that the basslet is a completely new product category. That was also helpful in getting media attention. But we really put a lot of time, effort and energy into the campaign. Above all, a good video was important to us. This is at the heart of most campaigns. That doesn't mean that you have to spend an awful lot for it or that it should always be produced with a high gloss. It's about having a good story and being able to tell it authentically via video.
CCB Magazin: Who is your target group?
Susanne: We didn't even know that at first. Everyone listens to music, so it was difficult to define a clear target group. We tried to make initial assumptions through user tests, events and online marketing. Ultimately, however, we first had to get to know our target group through the campaign.
CCB Magazin: And who is your target group now?
Susanne: The supporters of the campaign were almost exclusively men. Most came from the USA, Germany and Great Britain.
CCB Magazin: Why is that? I also know women who turn it up a notch.
Susanne: Yes (laughs), me too. I think there are various reasons for this: On the one hand, the basslet is a tech product. This domain has many male early adopters. On the other hand, the classic Kickstarter audience is predominantly male. In the future, our product will certainly appeal to women too. We see the basslet as a unisex product.
We see the basslet as a unisex product. And we're glad that we now know that the basslet is suitable for the masses
CCB Magazin: Why didn't you actually do a crowdinvesting campaign? So you could have found investors who invest in such a product.
Susanne: Our goal was to finally bring the basslet to the interested masses after two years of work. Investors were not in the foreground for us during the campaign. And we're also really happy that we now know that the basslet is suitable for the masses. Only now are we going to mass-produce the product. In December we want to deliver the first basslets to our Kickstarter supporters and next year we will bring the basslet onto the market.
CCB Magazin: Is the originally planned 50,000 euros enough for the first series?
Susanne: No, not at all. We not only received more money, but also more pre-orders than planned. We need the crowdfunding proceeds to produce this first large series of 5,000 pieces.
The basslet on your wrist. Techno to go. Photo: ©Lofelt.
CCB Magazin: How do you want to scale Basslet further?
Daniel: In addition to crowdfunding, the Hong Kong investor Horizon Ventures has joined our company. We have also found several business angel investors. In total, we were able to take about two million.
CCB Magazin: That's a lot.
Daniel: Yes, but we also have to finance our corporate existence so far. We developed the technology ourselves. Production is also expensive. Hardware just costs money.
What connects and drives me and our whole team is a passionate relationship with music
CCB Magazin: I see. Daniel and Susanne, how are you going from here? Where do you want to go with Basslet in the long term?
Daniel: The basslet is our first product - we are currently working intensively on implementing our campaign promise and then bringing the basslet onto the market. It is nice that we have already been able to grow thanks to the crowdfunding round. In the beginning there were two of us. Now we are 12 people. What connects and drives me and our whole team is a passionate relationship with music. And not just me, others of us are active musicians or DJs too. Our goal is to develop high quality tech products that will improve the way we experience and make music in the future.
CCB Magazin: Daniel and Susanne, good luck with them.
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