"Simon Bond and everyone else in the Innovation Centre really believed in me, and helped me out. When funds were getting low they gave me advice on where I could make some money to keep going, and they gave me the help and support I needed to succeed."
Stephen Baldwin, CEO, EarSoft
- Start date: 2011
- Website: www.earsoft.co.uk
- Market sector: audio
- Location: Bath
- Investment raised: £175,000
- Number of employees: 4
- student enterprise
- access to grants
EarSoft's technology improves the sound we hear from electronic devices. You slide a range to control the loudness, so audio is never too loud and never too quiet. Applications will include computers, mobile phones, tablets, car audio and hi-fi loudspeakers.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
"There's a problem today with the loudness of sound from electronics: whether that's speech, music, movies or anything else. The sound we hear has often been made overly loud to cope with poor quality speakers and background noise – ruining the listening experience. I set up EarSoft to develop new audio algorithms that would solve this problem."
February 2013: £175,000 funding raised from Northstar Ventures, IP Group, and four angels
"I took part in the Student Enterprise Competition in my fourth year at university. The competition and the feedback I received as a result gave me the push to set up EarSoft."
"SETsquared invited me to go and work from the Bath Innovation Centre, and the office space and being able to have meetings there were invaluable. Being around other people running businesses was really helpful."
"The transition from student enterprise to being a SETsquared company could not have been handled any better. The team at the Innovation Centre gave me all the mentoring and support I needed to build my business."
"We took part in SETsquared's Investor Garden Party, which gave us a useful opportunity to practice our pitch, to meet people and to make connections."
"We also attended the Bath Entrepreneurship programme, which was excellent – it was a fun few days, and I'd recommend it. It gave us a subtly different perspective, and a more academic take on being a start-up founder. I also made some good connections."
"SETsquared gave us information about a grant available from Microelectronics iNet, and that enabled us to secure £3,500 which we used to build a hardware prototype in partnership with Akya, another start-up at the Innovation Centre."
"Through a mentor at SETsquared, I made another connection who suggested I try for the ignite100 programme. The investors watched us for three months through this, which led to us receiving a total of £175,000 funding."
"To get on the programme, we had to do a presentation and we had to come up with a pitch that was investor-friendly. SETsquared helped us with these, and without them I wouldn't have made it."
"Our toughest challenge was raising funding, and SETsquared helped us through the process. They suggested who we should talk to, and gave us the support and encouragement we needed. For businesses setting out to get investment, they really need someone like the Innovation Centre to give them the reassurance that they are in a safe place and can take risks."
"The two biggest pieces of advice I got from SETsquared were to move back home to spend less money, and that my technology was good enough so I should start talking to investors. Without the advice on moving home, I would have run out of money before getting investment and would have been forced to stop working on EarSoft."
"We're talking to possible customers, and we expect to make connections with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to get our technology into their devices. We're aiming to make Apple Macs across the world sound louder with our Voluma technology, and we're going to eventually replace every single volume control in the world with our Level product. We'll keep going until we achieve that."