Tech Talk: Earstorms and ReachedIn

Julie Bhusal-Sharma

Launch Pad: Earstorms Forecasts Headphone Comfort and Quality

While necessity is often the mother of invention, its father might just be an industry veteran wanting to combine all the pros of the products he's sold.

Gil Ford of Columbus was a dealer and distributor of headphones for more than 10 years when he decided to create his own headphone company. He's the CEO of Earstorms, which aims to maximize audio performance and minimize price.

After working on his idea for about two years, Ford's model headphones are ready to hit the market. They weigh less than 6 ounces, are foldable and come in pink, green and black. They also have touch control, which means a listener can tap or spin the ear cover to change volume or stop and play sound. The touch control makes listening especially easy for those who take off the detachable 3.5-millimeter cord to go wireless via Bluetooth.

While located in Columbus, the company relies on global connections. Earstorms' sound engineers are in Japan, and manufacturing is in China.

Earstorms is preparing a Kickstarter campaign emphasizing its potential for brand exposure more than incoming funds, perhaps due to the fact a majority of the funding was a result of liquidating inventory from Ford's audio distribution company, SBN Worldwide, which will be sold.

Invented by: Gil Ford

Cost: $99.99

Investor: Gil Ford

Amount funded: Undisclosed

Will Earstorms achieve startup success?

“Earstorms' low-cost approach to brand- building through crowdfunding platforms is a nice marketing supplement, but I think it's critical for people to try the product to differentiate its quality from better-known brands, which means physical marketing. ... The product has some great features, good looking industrial design, and the price point seems to be well-suited for its target market.”

Potential Investor: Remo Moomiaie-Qajar, MD, Technology Investor

“I think it is really a good idea, but I know some companies are already doing it. … For headphones, the features I pay attention to are the quality and the brand. Unless it achieves highest sound quality among other headphones, I don't think the price of $99.99 is low. I'll pay for a product which is best on whatever dimension. If it is designed and looks really perfect, I'll consider purchasing.”

Potential User: Yihan Wang, Undergraduate Student, Ohio State University

“There are a numberof opportunities for such a productas the smartphonesin our pocketsbecome indispensable forms of absorbingentertainment.Simultaneously, the market is flooded withcompetition from low-end, terrible-sounding, ill-fittingyet inexpensive earbuds to the overpriced status symbolcelebrity-endorsed headphones. I applaud the effort.”

Industry Expert: Neal Schmitt, Music Technology Instructor, Capital University

ReachedIn App Holds Politicians Accountable

Tia Ramey, founder of Ramey Marketing in Columbus, is using her business as the launch pad for an app that encourages political accountability and participation.

ReachedIn allows users to review local politicians on things such as keeping a promise to fix potholes or volunteering at an event.

Users can hold themselves accountable, too, on the causes they stand for by donating to groups and creating or signing petitions.

“Social media is great for awareness, but now what?” Ramey says. “So I wanted to create a ‘Now What' network, if you will, that made people do something rather than just read something or watch something.”

The beta version of ReachedIn is scheduled for release on Oct. 1.