VoxBox is a one-size, one (two-tone) colour design. We can offer discounts on multiple buys but couldn’t think of any good in-between Rewards - having done some light market research we quickly established that there was no desire for PET-felt mousepads or coasters…
So, I asked (roped in) my family to help and you can read a bit about them and their offering on the Rewards column. B ut last week something really lovely happened. A new pledger and fan of VoxBox, Gema Ensenat, offered to do a masterclass on being a professional Voice Over talent. Gema’s talk and Q&A really will be a masterclass. She’s an established, sought-after VO artist AND gives high-end talks, classes and courses on a multitude of fascinating topics. You can get to know more about Gema here: linkedin.com/in/gemaensenat We really excited by and grateful for this offer. We hope you find these Rewards valuable and interesting - and we look forward to seeing you Zoom in November (from a VoxBox, of course).
Week 1 was an absolutely wonderful experience. We’ve sold out on our early-bird Rewards and are a few units into our regular discounted offers. A couple of distributors in Japan and South Korea are circulating. And we’ve had enquiries for two sound equipment suppliers in the UK. We’re feeling good but not complacent!
And we received another lovely endorsement from a man who knows a few things.
In the 30+ years I’ve been a film producer I’ve strived to ensure that my films had the best quality sound-recording and post-production possible - and I’ve relied completely on professionals to deliver it. I’ve learned a great deal from those experts.
But I am not a sound scientist, engineer or even a self-taught sound-guy.
So, when I saw the effect that the prototypes of VoxBox had on people when they used it - see this - and experienced the deadening effect myself, I was keen to have it measured. I researched some sound professionals who ran studio installation companies and asked them to test it for me. Our conversations always developed into fascinating, challenging and respectful discussions about how to measure the effects of materials and room/box shapes on reverb and noise reduction.
But the more qualified and experienced they were, the more reluctant they were to test it and give me figures to publish.
When I pointed out that other domestic sound-dampening solutions had technical data numbers on their websites they sucked their teeth, and either said they didn’t understand the figures or questioned how they were measured. Or both. Their reluctance seemed to boil down to there being no industry standard - or ISO - to measure the dampening effect of VoxBox (or other sound baffling devices) against. I stressed that I wasn’t looking to over-claim the benefits - or even claim that my invention was better than a really, really thick duvet. Rather I was stating only that VoxBox was far more convenient: foldable, portable and storable than most solutions out there. And, I would claim, more attractive and less sweaty-head making.
In the end, they suggested that, because VoxBox was going to be used in homes, hotels or on-the-go, the best way to demonstrate the sound dampening effect was a couple of real-life experiments - and that’s what we have here, one showing decibel reduction and one reverb dampening. They are a bit Heath-Robinson but they are “actual” and repeatable.
I believe my improvised tests show that VoxBox is effective but they aren’t claiming to be definitive. Getting the best results from VoxBox will depend on getting to know what suits you and VoxBox best, in terms of mic position, the placement of the box in the room and how you hold your body when you record. But VoxBox will - I guarantee this, at least - make your voice sound cleaner, clearer and more consistent.
Day 1 of the Kickstarter launch was a bit like hosting a wedding: a lot of old friends to welcome, some new people to get to know, some dancing, a few tears of emotion and a couple of drunken uncles who needed managing at the end of the day.
Just like I’m new to design and manufacturing, I’m new to running a KickStater campaign. I’ve pledged a few things over the years (I’m a natural early-adopter) and enjoyed the results - if not the occasional yawning chasm of time as I wait for my Reward (about which more on this re VoxBox soon). But launching my own product was almost overwhelming.
After Day 1 I think I have now fully absorbed and understood the many really good YouTube and Kickstarter lessons that are available to newbies. And they are pretty sound. A successful KickStarter campaign is about: the product; the “story” behind the product and the leader/inventor; and the reach you, your product and your core supporters have to the wider public.
I have had a lot of pledges from friends and family, for which I am sincerely grateful. They were there for me in the three year run-up to the launch (with a lot of ribbing and mock eye-rolling, trust me) and they will be with me whatever the results of the campaign.
But it’s the new, unconnected supporters that are so energising. It can only be that they are responding to VoxBox itself and liking what they see and read. I’m sure many other product-developers have felt the same when deep in the weeds, trying to get their invention to launch date - “yes, but will people actually want this?” - and so when someone actually pledges it’s a total rush.
(BTW, I’m not immune to being slightly awed by people with pretty massive followings - [cough] Dawn French [cough] Charlie Condu [cough] - giving it some love. See below)
In the coming blogs, vlogs and updates I will cover: my background; the long design process what I’ve learned about materials, prototyping, mentors, testing; stumbles and missteps; manufacturing and samples; promotion; what VoxBox does to reverb and noise; pricing; and KickStater itself. And other stuff. And responding to questions.
And I’ll keep re-stating my mantra to you and myself: VoxBox is a good, durable, ingenious tool with genuine utility. Because it really is.
“..this is EXACTLY what we need when we travel!” Lewis Goodall
I have been to a lot of trade shows during my “other” career. In over the 30 years as an independent film producer, I have spent about 6 months of my life pounding the halls and pavements of Berlin, Cannes, Los Angles and, back in the day, Milan.
But always as a buyer, never as a seller.
Renting a small booth at The Design Centre in Islington in late May 2023 for The Podcast Show was a nerve-wracking, surreal and totally energising experience.
We were placed up, out of the way (I initially felt) in a walkway on the balcony level. But I was assured it was a thoroughfare to the main speaking venues and would get a lot of traffic. It wasn’t a hard-sell. I think I saw EVERYONE. Over two days I opened and closed VoxBox over 200 times to podcasters, radio producers, sound engineers, media students and, for five exciting minutes, to Lewis Goodall of The News Agents. (And as a sincere fan of that podcast that was great fun, especially when he declared really loudly to his producer, “Tom, this EXACTLY what we need when we travel…!”)
The Podcast Show taught me a few things about VoxBox (see below) and one thing about myself. I really like selling. I remembered my training, imparted by the genius David Solomon of Sun And Moon Training: “ask open questions.” I soon landed on, “Excuse me, can I ask you what you do?” It’s hard not to engage with that question and, whatever the answer, the follow-up naturally led to a demonstration of VoxBox.
And VoxBox never failed to deliver. I had brought the first factory-sample with me as the demo unit, and with some trepidation. Would it be as well made as the prototypes? It was rock solid. It was also great that the folding mechanism dispelled all scepticism that “this won’t take more than 30 seconds to show you” was absolutely true. When you get the hang of it, it’ll pop up in 12 seconds and down in 5 seconds.
But most satisfying? It was getting the same reaction it always gets in a domestic environment. I was worried that the big hall and all those bodies would make the dampening effect of VoxBox less tangible. But everyone - even wary sound engineers - when they spoke into VoxBox did the “Wow”, with the occasional, “That’s amazing” and (from those sound engineers, after clicking their fingers and clapping their hands) “That’s very effective. That’s very, very effective.”
Because I’m at late-prototype/early-factory-sample stage, I didn’t actually have any units to sell but I did gain a lot of love and loads of sign-ups to our mailing list, ready for the KickStarter campaign. The experience proved to me that VoxBox works, that it’s priced right and people really like what they see, feel and experience. It was exciting. I can’t wait to get this product out into the market.