What you have to do, is make several sample pairs for demo and display purposes, that exhibit the same quality levels in sound, fit, and finish, that the production models will have. Then, you become your own rep. You rent exhibit space at the major shows. You travel the country to potential dealers, and demo the speakers in their stores to the owners. You have all the particulars for dealer cost, margins, price breaks, delivery times, finish options, model line-up, etc. Then you will see if you get some dealer representation. Send a set to anyone influential you know for demo. Get the word out. Advertise intelligently, at lowest cost possible. Then you have to make good on your promises. Get the speakers that are ordered by the dealers to them in a timely manner. Keep the quality exactly the same. Make it easy for them to sell your speaker. Manage growth without quality control problems. Keep up with the competition. Once you get some market penetration, you can get the existing local independant reps to pick up your line. This will free you up to handle the million other things you have to do. Good product alone will not do it. You have to have consistency in both production and your dealings with the industry. Your word is key, and you have to make them know that they can depend on you. They are not going to be left out in the wind, trying to cover your butt. If you get this far, then you have a good shot at succeeding. It is very tough, and in a questionable economy, there are great perils in a disposable income business. There are others out there trying to do the same thing, and you can make some friends along the way. Tagging on to the right person's coat-tails can really help you get where you need to go. Sometimes an old hand in the industry will take a liking to you and help you get where you could never get by yourself, so look for the guiding hand. But be careful. And stay away from venture capitalists who seek to invest in your company, but want control. That is the end. You have to control your own destiny.
"I would like to know what is the best route to enter the [Twilight Zone] HIFI business."
10) Get a cat scan.
09) Write off your social life for the next 3 years while you starve in the process.
08) Throw all your money out a window (cut to the chase).
07) Write off any and all friends you may have that own Bose
(or "Bozey", "Boze", or "Bossey").
06) Buy a book on Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
05) Start to eat very poorly and/or rich foods and put on some weight
(this way you will blend right in with most other (hifi) industry persons).
04) Be ready to experience first hand why exactly UPS is referred to as "brown".
03) If you own a vehicle that is anything less
than a van, truck, or wagon, start shopping.
02) If you (only) own a sports car hold on while I try to stop laughing.
01) When woman ask what you do for a living
come up with any line other than: "I sell hi-end audio".
Copyright @ 2002 Brian@Hello.lt
Great post TWL.
Your advice is pretty much the key to successful marketing of all kinds of goods. I can think of a few audio manufacturers that have faltered, due to wandering too far away from their core ideas.
I think it is also advisable to assume this new audio venture would NOT produce a profit for at least three to five years. Success may be tremendous, but seldom without a long wait.
How quaint: Here is some bad news for you. There are roughly 350 loudspeaker manufacturers (50-75 new each year). Most have minimal technical competance and even less capacity to manufacture. All but a scant few rely on outsourcing for drivers, xover components, connectors and often enclosures. Have you ever wondered why B&W, Magnepan, Thiel and Martin-Logan enjoy such primacy? Easy...they build most if not all of the subassemblies in their products. Get it? They are real manufacturers. If you want to build speakers as a hobby, enjoy. If you want to build more me-too 6-sided boxes using drivers from Morel, Seas, Dyanudio or whatever, spare yourself the inevitable financial loss and time. Here is the one question that I ask everyone who is thinking about getting into the high end as a manufacturer: Why should anyone buy your product over an existing manufacturer? I would be happy to respond to your rationale should you be bold enough to post it here. I am not trying to rain on your parade, but merely to add some much needed realism to the discussion...hope to hear back from you as you progress.
Ultra - while your points are well-taken for the most part, the fact remains that new speaker manufacturers do actually sell their wares. If B&W, Magnepan, Theil, Martin Logan, etc. - the "establishment" as it were - had such a stranglehold on the market, how on earth can we account for the success of such excellent little upstarts as Joseph Audio, Meadowlark, Silverline, Gallo Acoustics, Talon, Gershman, Norh, or even Egglestonworks? Everyone starts somewhere ...
If this guy has the stones to pursue this avenue and he has something of value to offer (unique design, bang for buck, etc) and he has the money and patience, and he has the social skills (and it does take diplomacy), he's got a chance at making a living. There's always room for something new, and usually room for something old that's just been repackaged ... many if not most speakers on the decks these days are something old that's been repackaged.
So why would someone buy this guy's speaker vs. one of the established names? Because they are already buying other stuff - the pattern already exists. What are the chances of our friend usurping the Bose market? Infinitessimally small, probably. But with the right combo of attributes (cojones, money, design, luck, industry relationships, money, cojones, Ramen Noodles, etc) he'll be able to make a living at it eventually.
It can take years to become an overnight success, but it can be done.
There are many successful speaker companies that use off the shelf parts. It's not necessarily the parts, but how you combine them. And let's not forget the art of crossover design.
This guy could get it right, and start the next Merlin. Cut him some slack.
You guys have forgotten the most succesful of all times, Dr. Bose...
Make up a theory, back it up with the most clever marketing and you'll be RICH!!!
We were told the same thing as ultra said...you can't do it etc. After investing roughly 1.5 millon bucks on cnc controlled diamond saws and polishers.....we are the only company (that i know of) who makes "real" granite speakers, and guess what we make money at it.....we use off the shelf components (like almost all companies), but designed our own cross overs and boxes(if you want to call them that since they are 3/4" solid granite). We have no desire to try to put any other company out of business, as we plan to remain small. The big companies have "BIG" overhead in advertising lot's of employee's etc. We have almost no overhead, so we don't need to sell a billion sets to break even..... I have learned one thing in my ten years in this biz....if someone says it can't be done, it's usually your best seller...If you want to do it, go for it. if you don't do it you'll never know what might have been.
I think ZSquared hit it on the head - a PILE OF FRIGGIN MONEY is what you need first. After that, don't be a fool, and you'll do fine. :- )
Oh, you ought to have a product that hits at least a niche, and has technical competence.
Anyone who has a pile of money, and is thinking about starting from a position of no experience, contact me privately.
There's not much more to it.
Great thread, lots of good advice, basically the same as being successful in any other start up business: work hard, deliver a good product, work hard, keep your promises, work hard, be lucky, work hard! Oh did I mention hard work? Can you tell I'm self employed?