For this Miami entrepreneur and his first product, the beat is on.
By Friday morning, just four days into the campaign, the BeatBuddy had attracted more than $107,000 from 607 funders and there are still 46 days to go -- but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Because this seemingly overnight success is really an entrepreneur’s story about knowing and pleasing your customers.
Packouz, a musician, got the idea for BeatBuddy when he was doing his own jam session and wishing for a product that would provide hands-free creative control of a beat through his amp. He did his research, discovered there really was nothing exactly like this out there, and also emailed some musician friends about the idea. When the first email response came back immediately with only three words – I WANT ONE! – he knew he was on to something.
Along the way, Packouz, who was a mechanical engineering student at Miami Dade College for several years, was smart enough to patent his system, which gives a musician pedal control over a variety of drum beats and sounds. Then he went about to have it engineered, a process that took about two years. After “wasting his time” with two companies, he found a team in Montreal – Brio Concept – that could do the job.
Packouz has launched and run other businesses but never brought a product to market. Now 31, “I’ve been self employed my entire life,” said Packouz, who has founded businesses ranging from electronics import to government contracting to smartphone app development. This is the first company to match his passion for music and invention, the singer, songwriter and guitar player said.
Months later, someone googling around found a prototype demo video he was working on – he hadn’t even released it yet – and posted it on a guitar forum. “And then it exploded on the forums,” he said. Packouz was flooded with comments and emails from all over the world –- Wow, we need this, why hasn’t this been done before? how soon will BeatBuddy be available? Could you also include this feature? Can it do this and that?
That was nine months ago, and Packouz wasn't ready to go into production. But Pakhouz began collecting the emails and corresponding with his new-found fan base. He answered their questions but more importantly he asked them what they wanted and needed in the product. "I took care of them, I listened, I responded," he said.
And ultimately he was glad the video got out. Although it added months to his timeline, “I completely redesigned the product on their recommendations and it is so much stronger,” said Packouz. You can read all about the product and its many features and view a video on the Indiegogo campaign page.
To make sure the Indiegogo campaign was a success, Packouz boosted his post on Facebook and sent out an email blast about a week ahead of time with this message: Only 500 will be made available at about half of the $349 he expects to retail BeatBuddy for. “I structured the campaign for early support.”
It worked – but he said he never expected such an overwhelming response, literally overnight.
Packouz said he put his life savings into the company, which includes his brother, Eli, who is a chemical engineering student at Miami Dade College, an engineering group of eight in Montreal, and Goran Rista, founder of GoranGrooves, an online recording service in Miami, who is in charge of content, creating those drum sounds and beats.
“Every now and then you get a student who you just know is going to accomplish something special and David was such a student. He's an entrepreneur to his core, and his perseverance is second to none,” said James Poe, an associate professor of engineering at Miami Dade College and one of David’s professors last year. “The BeatBuddy is off to an amazing start, and I’m certain it will be just one of many successes in David’s future.”
Pictured: David Packouz showed Ulf Ekberg, serial entrepreneur and founding member of Ace of Base, the BeatBuddy earlier this month at SIME MIA, where Ekberg was a speaker, and Ekberg liked it. Above, photos of the product and the T-shirt that is one of the giveaways in the Indiegogo campaign. Photos provided by BeatBuddy.
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Posted Dec. 20, 2013