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Crowdfunding Success – An Interview With Phazon CEO Chris Houle – $2M+ raised

Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

Do your earbuds sometimes fall out? Or worse, have your ever felt that the wires from your earbuds were inconvenient, especially when playing sports.

Welcome to Phazon: We are making the world’s first one-size-fits-all wireless earbuds. This is so unique because no one thought this was actually possible, arguing that everyone has a different ear size. While this is true, there is an inner core pattern that everyone shares. The fit is so magic that you can literally dive in the water and it will stay in place. It’s a completely snug fit. Any sports from casual jogging to skydiving will let you listen to music flawlessly.

We have the potential to literally reshape the entire headphones/earbuds industry with our IP on the one-size-fits-all. We’re currently located in Montreal, Canada.

Can you give us a brief description about yourself,  your educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements?

I’m responsible for the business development, marketing and making sure the business runs smoothly. I graduated in accounting and mastered in taxation.

I played pro football, built an iPhone app game and got offered a partner position in an accounting firm within 2 years.

Leaving my tax specialist job to go full-steam ahead into another world (headphones) was a challenge but I was fortunate enough to be supported by my family. However, let’s just say my mom was a bit worried

Going to university here in Canada is quite cheap while the quality of education is excellent.

The fact that I did not have any student debts really helped my decision to make a move with Phazon. I did not have any heavy financial burdens, so I could take more risks.

What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

In early 2014, I suddenly realized during a workout that the wires were totally annoying. I then did some online research for wireless solutions but I was not satisfied. None of the actual products had Bluetooth connectivity, a comfortable fit & nice design. More importantly, none had truly wireless earbuds. There was always some kind of wires between the headphones.

What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

As most entrepreneurs will tell you, many people will discourage you from doing your project. They do this mainly because they’ll want to protect you of a potential failure or that they just don’t understand how much it can be a game changer.

Test your market ASAP. I see too many times someone invests a ton of money into a technology, without testing if there is a market fit. Pay for ads and see if the response is above the industry average.

Gather a great team. If you don’t have a lot of money, you’ll have to split the equity so people can earn a less interesting income but gamble on a future home run. People interested in equity will not only believe in your project but do an awesome job. Make sure to do a vesting schedule!

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Determination

Creativity

Good Communicator

How many hours do you work a day on average?

12

To what do you most attribute your success?

There were tough times before from company’s inception to the launch of our product.

At one point, the bank account was running low, I advised my initial co-founders that we had to stop the salaries in order to get the money for the functional prototypes. I wanted to do publicity and they were opposed. I felt heavy tensions between us. The fact that I wasn’t a technical co-founder did not help my situation with them (2 engineers). When everything goes well, everyone is happy, when the situation goes bad, people can make really stupid decisions.

I eventually got back on my feet and figured out their plan was legally wrong. I was the main shareholder and a bunch of legal papers restraining them to compete against the company were signed.

I’ve now partnered with trustworthy engineers. One is actually my best friend’s brother, and we have a great relationship.

As Harvey Specter (Suits) would say, “Some want to lose small, I want to win big”.

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Having few experiences in marketing (Hey, I have bachelors in accounting and a master in taxation) I had to study a lot about crowdfunding and generating I tried many channels including local trade shows. The most successful one is definitely social ads.

Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

We got an initial investment of $20k from Launchhouse incubator (Cleveland).

I also personally put more than $10k into the project.

What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Focusing on product development and making sure you get the best talent out there possible. Testing the market first really does answer a lot of questions.

Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Either publicly traded or acquired

Excluding your own, what company or business do you admire the most?

Under Armour. There were already some big names in the sports apparel industry (Nike, Adidas, Reebok) but because they managed to build an incredible product and marketed it successfully.

 Crowdfunding

Why did you use Crowdfunding to raise funds?

Crowdfunding is such a great idea for getting your product out there. It validates the market, boosts brand awareness & gives you the capital you need to ship a product.

Did you go through a Pre-launch period. If so, how long was it and what did you do?

Yes! I will always advise people to do a Pre-launch and the longer this period is the better. We managed to build up a 24,000 email database before launching. We did regular updates to build momentum too

How many people on your Team?

3 full time, 2 part time.

Can you recommend any specific services that you have used for your crowdfunding campaign marketing?

Smart Crowdfunding – Shane is so proactive and gives incredible advice to get your campaign going to new heights.

What would you say is the number 1 thing you’ve learned from your crowdfunding experience?

Design and optimization of your campaign page is SO important. Don’t spare any money on this one. People quickly judge you based on your campaign design and then on your product. Get a great video as well.

Can you share any advice for others considering going the crowdfunding route?

Preparation is the key! I see so many projects fail mainly because they did not prepare enough. By preparation, I mean gathering an audience that is interested in your product before you launch and also creating great content too.

Welcome! Do spend a little time exploring what we do.

Once you've explored our website, you'll soon realize that we're highly skilled at raising $'s.

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