Connected Objects Interviews Music

The Backerjack Interview: Mass Fidelity’s Ben Webster on packing big sound into a travel-friendly speaker

Mass Fidelity’s Core is a paradox — a portable speaker that’s designed to produce a convincing stereo effect from virtually anywhere in the room. Actually, that’s true of multiple rooms as the system can be networked throughout the house like a Sonos system. Backers responded and the Indiegogo campaign was one of the most successful ever for a Canadian campaign. We caught up with Mass Fidelity co-founder Ben Webster to learn more bout the physics and functionality of the powerful desktop speaker due this summer.

Backerjack: Tell us a bit about Mass Fidelity and the Core.

Webster: Mass Fidelity was founded as an audio technology company with the intent on redefining the audio space. The name has a dual meaning that encapsulates our goals of bringing high-fidelity audio products to the masses and making products of substance. I started by looking at how many of my friends and family didn’t have high-quality sound systems and how much the technology scared them away. There ceased to be a middle ground at somewhere in the late 70’s, early 80’s — that’s when the divide became extreme, to the point where you were either buying junk or extremely high end stuff. What I wanted to do was build something that was attainable for the normal person that would give them a real, engaging musical experience.

This prototype of the Core has been traveling with me for the last six months and it’s changed my life. As the founder of an audio company, I have a big beefy system at home and I barely use it anymore. This thing is so convenient and it actually sounds like a stereo. You’re not gonna get around physics when considering my living room system with nine drivers, but it’s also thousands and thousands of dollars worth of components whereas this thing we’re selling for $595 gets 80-90% there. I really feel like there’s a combination of technologies about to completely flip the audio game on its head.

Food and Beverage Interviews

The Backerjack Interview: SYNEK’s Eric Stoddard on tapping into the countertop beer market

Having raised nearly $650,000 and netting a Backerjack Editor’s Choice Award, the SYNEK countertop beer dispenser has been dubbed, somewhat misleadingly, “the Keurig of beers.” Backerjack caught up with Synek’s director of customer engagement Eric Stoddard, to trade drinking stories about how company came back from a slow campaign start and was accepted into the camaraderie of small, local brewers

Backerjack: Could you talk a little bit about what SYNEK is?

Stoddard: Sure. It’s a countertop beer dispenser that gives you access to any beer at home on draft at very high quality. The bag holds up to 30 psi, and you can get it from any tap anywhere — whether it be your local brewery or wherever it may be — and you can take that home and you get a shelf life of 30 days.

Backerjack: So, unlike Keurig where you can buy a K-Cup, this is more like a storage method where it stores already brewed beer?

Stratter: Yeah, we’re sort of packaging company, a social packaging company because of how ingrained we are with breweries and helping them connect with their customers. There’s a lot of big issues in this industry, and how we came about as an idea was by considering the problems affecting lots of breweries. Smaller guys can’t afford to buy equipment because it’s a huge fixed investment upfront, so they have no way to get beer unless they use growlers.

The bad thing with growlers is that the beer only lasts for two days, three days if you’re lucky, once opened. It isn’t the most feasible option for most people. We’re trying to expand on that where now we offer this gallon size bag that’s able to be filled up the exact same way you would a growler and it’s available to a larger group of people. Now, these smaller breweries have a way to get higher quality beer out of the brewery.

Imaging Interviews Wearables

The Backerjack Interview: Narrative’s Oskar Kalmaru on the evolving wearable camera

Raising over half a million dollars as Memoto, the Narrative Clip has been a pioneer in the field of wearable cameras. Originally marketing a life-logging device, the company has seen its cameras embraced for more diverse scenarios. Backerjack caught up with Narrative CMO and co-founder Oskar Kalmaru to discuss what the company has learned from the first Clip. Kalmaru also discussed some of the cool features of the Clip 2, which will include better image quality, better connectivity and 3D-printable mounts, but take a pass on Kickstarter.

Backerjack: It’s been about a year since the Narrative Clip shipped. What have you been hearing from your customers?

Kalmaru: It’s a really nice feeling to be able to go from being a Kickstarter project where everything is just pre-everything – pre-users, pre-product —  to having an actual product out with actual users actually using it and seeing that it does work. It does help people to live in the moment and capture things as they happen and relax in the moment and still get photos out of it People use it in 52 countries now and have been using it for travel, taking pictures of their families, photographing weddings.

Backerjack: From those use cases, it sounds like people are using it more situationally rather than wearing it all day every day and sorting through the photos. When I tried the product, I was pleased with the picture quality but it makes you realize you’re not doing the most exciting stuff every day.

Kalmaru: It’s a camera that’s great for life-logging if that’s what you want to do. But if it isn’t, it’s great for a lot of other things, too. And as with most wearables, what we’re seeing now is that they aren’t necessarily meant to be used all the time. There are a few wearables that are used all the time — maybe your watch, maybe your glasses. You use the camera in situations where it would make sense. It could be having dinner with friends, spending time hiking with your family. It could be doing things that are maybe out of the ordinary or you want to be able to do those activities and stay in the moment and still capture it.

Backerjack: When you launched, you had a competitor that was priced quite a bit higher. It looks like they’ve exited the hardware market so what do you take away from that? Do you think it was just the price point they were at? Or is it a setback for the category?

Kalmaru: I can’t really tell why they pulled out. We’re having a fantastic year. We have users from all over the world using it all the time. We raised another $8 million from Khosla Ventures in Menlo Park. Again, this is proving that this category is the future. Just look at the trends. The photo trend, that’s one megatrend. There are two billion photos uploaded every single day and you have the wearable trend next to that. People are getting more and more used to wearables devices. Combine those two and you have wearable cameras.