Earlier this week during the Audio Associates Dealer Expo held in New Jersey, we had an opportunity to meet with Mike Weaver, President of San Diego-based Soundcast Systems, Inc. Soundcast, a manufacturer of wireless outdoor speakers has been around for quite some time and although it seems to have achieved some recognition for good quality products, the company has been a little sleepy and unremarkable…until recently, that is.
With new money from the founders, a new team of executives, and recently launched new products – Soundcast has definitely cast a new expanded role for itself in the industry…
See more on the dynamic new growth trajectory the company is on, below…
For several years, Soundcast seemed to live within the periphery of the industry. It was a niche company targeting a narrow niche (outdoor audio), with an “under the radar” low-voltage marketing approach. All that, however, changed a few months ago.
Earlier this year there was a quite a buzz surrounding the company when news emerged that former SpeakerCraft founder Jeremy Burkhardt was buying the company. Several articles appeared announcing the news, some rampant with speculation about just what that meant.
Somewhat mysterious circumstances…
The deal between Burkhardt and Soundcast ultimately fell through under somewhat mysterious circumstances (Burkhardt was said to have missed a purchase deadline and the company chose not to extend it). With all of that in the past, Weaver sought to focus on the many substantive changes the company has made and how bright he finds its future.
According to sources in a position to know, we are told that Soundcast is owned by a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with a long history of experience in A/V and a large and capable engineering capability. SoundCast products were initially marketed to the custom installation community…although pickup there was said to be slow.
Weaver joined the company back in February 2012. Prior to joining Soundcast, Weaver had been the co-founder and President of Qsonix, a manufacturer of music servers.
“We were one of the early birds and had the world’s renowned version, but the market crashed…and…Apple happened,” Weaver chuckled.
Weaver’s first year with the company consisted largely of him conducting an extensive internal review and sorting out the strengths and weaknesses to find those growth opportunities.
“You know with the history of the company having been involved predominantly in the custom installation marketplace and coming kind of from its roots in an engineering-driven organization, I started working a lot on the marketing part of the equation and communications because there really had been very little infrastructure in place,” Weaver told us. “So my first year was really spent doing an internal analysis, and understanding the strengths and the weaknesses, and what was going on, and what was working and what wasn’t working. and where we had opportunities to grow.”
Marketing was his first priority…
Weaver quickly discovered, fortunately, that “there were opportunities – pretty much – everywhere.” The roots of the company had come from an OEM background, Weaver told us – the things that don’t typically exist in that type of environment is marketing and sales. So marketing and sales initiatives were his first priority. Weaver has dramatically expanded the sales and marketing teams in a bid to raise the visibility of the line.
Part of reworking their approach to marketing, however, was to improve their “pricing integrity.” Soundcast products were being widely distributed on the Internet and Weaver found the need to clean up this problem. “We’ve made a massive improvement in [Internet pricing]. We’re basically clean at this point.”
Working on a roadmap…
One thing that Weaver was happy to see, the products were solid – well designed with good technology. However, work was needed on the “go-forward” product roadmap.
“Melody is the first product done under my watch and we’re very excited about what’s happening,” Weaver enthused. “We think we have a game-changing product on our hands and its being very well received in all markets and channels we’re involved in.”
Adding a little Melody to your life…
Melody is a wireless portable music system that allows users to stream content from their favorite smartphone through the unit. Based on Bluetooth, Melody ties into the wants and needs of today’s mobile users. Weaver feels that Melody has a strong appeal to their channel partners, mainly because of its prices point. “It’s a $450 version of our $1,000 product, so it will address a much greater part of the market.”
Melody has a 360° soundstage, long battery life (lithium ion, rechargeable), robust sound quality (4 passive bass radiators), weather resistance, and built-in carrying handle…all family features similar to other Soundcast products. Also, Melody “has a retail sizzle to it” as well. However, the company says that custom installers are very interested in Melody as well.
Back-ordered and allocated…
Something must be working because Weaver says the first 2½ productions are completely sold out – and it only started shipping about two weeks prior to our conversation. Now Melody is back-ordered and being allocated. “The response has just been absolutely phenomenal.”
The tag line for Melody, which seems really appropriate, is “Go Places.” Melody will be sold in Best Buy Magnolia locations along with a group of specialty stores such as World Wide Stereo, Bjorn’s, The Little Guys, ListenUp, Abt, and others.
Going beyond electronics into new markets…
But Soundcast is looking even beyond electronics dealers. Weaver is ramping up his sales team as the company has targeted several other parallel retail channels such as barbecue, pool, patio, active living and outdoor living.
Weaver says that because of the nature of the product, and the firewall isolation between these other completely different channels, the company can distribute their line in any one market through multiple dealers serving multiple parallel market segments with no inter-channel conflict. But to set this type of distribution up will require a different type of sales force infrastructure.
“My sales organization is growing more into a factory-based model so that we have people on deck that can service multiple areas and address verticals,” Weaver said. He quickly added, “We have a full complement of IPRO based CE reps complemented by our direct sales team so we’ve gotten a little more strategic about who we have where and why and how. I mean, we’re here at this event [Expo], of course, supporting one of our great newer additions [Audio Associates] that we’re incredibly excited about and who have been doing a great job for us.”
Weaver told us that the company is being very careful about all of this additional distribution. Soundcast take pains to test the market before they jump in full force. The company is testing a variety of other markets, such as the marine market, as well.
Finally, I asked Weaver about international expansion. He looked surprised at the question but quickly regained his composure. Although the company already has distribution partners in other markets around the world – apparently, Soundcast is about to make a major announcement about their international expansion plans. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t quite right for Weaver to reveal that to us at the Expo.
See more about Soundcast here: www.soundcastsystems.com.
Learn more about Soundcast’s new Melody system at its custom site here: www.followmelody.com.
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