Startup Nomad 2013 is a three month long global accelerator program organized by The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and The National IT Industry Promotion Agency, and hosted by VentureSquare in collaboration with Plug&Play.
The Startup Nomad teams plan to leave in early November for Silicon Valley to participate in an acceleration program at Plug&Play Tech Center. Each team will undergo intensive mentoring and coaching to equip them with the tools to enter the global market. There will also be an opportunity to showcase the startup to local investors in the USA, and upon return to Korea, a Demo Day will be held on Dec 11th.
VentureSquare has taken this opportunity to hear about the global strategy and the expectations of each team waiting aboard on ‘Startup Nomad’ global accelerator program in Silicon Valley.
Golden Ears has a reputation that has launched the website posting professional reviews on sound devices for the first time in Korea. What was your story on the very beginning?
Golden Ears was originated from my personal blog posting the reviews on the sound devices. As a huge fan of audio systems, I needed a more objective database on sound devices. Before, we had a few blogs posting on sound devices, however their postings are too personal and some times commercial-oriented. So I started my own blog and turned it into professional website right after I got funded from people around me. The golden ears website posts reviews only after testing the devices. Banner advertisement on the website is one source of profit. The other was Accudio, the sound enhancement app.
Can you tell us more about your mobile application ‘Accudio’?
In a nutshell, Accuido is an application improving sound quality. Accudio adjusts distortion occurring during the play, and enhances the sound quality from the smart device.
A little more than 1,000 models of earphones and headsets are released in Korea market for a year. Whenever my team tests those models, we feel bad. Because we don’t find any well-balanced model in terms of sound, design and wearability. If the model fits in the balance, it most likely costs way too much for common users.
One day, my team came up with the idea of developing sound enhancement app since we already had a great amount of database on most of sound devices in the market. The idea came into reality. It’s Accudio.
Accudio for iOS is already in the market. As for the Android app, it is necessary that the smartphone maker has to take Accudio into one of pre-equipped apps. Because Accudio in the Android version needs root authority, I need the maker’s authorization for access to root. So, naturally, the iOS app targets B2C market, the Android app does the B2B market.
Why does distortion occur when music is played on a device?
It’s the nature of the hardware. High-end sound system doesn’t cause any distortion, meanwhile, low-end audio devices cause a great deal of distortion. With the benefit of technology, the recently released smartphones don’t make any distortion. Most distortion occurs when digital signal turns into analog sound for earphones and headsets. Accudio serves the role of adjusting the distortion in this process.
How did you manage to develop the application?
I myself designed the system and outsourced development. Eight years of experience of programming helped me a lot. It took 6 months for the iOS app. In case of Android, it took more than 6 months because I spent much time looking for a programmer who can code low-level language. Both the iOS and the Andriod app finished and released. .
I don’t see many people who are sensitive to sound quality. Do you think Accudio would attaract music fans?
Accudio doesn’t target sensitive music fans only, but also targets users who listen to music often with nice sound devices such as Beats by Dr. Dre. They will feel attractive if they can take full advantage of the device they have bought.
There are plenty of HD sound service provided by several music streaming websites these days. You won’t be able to enjoy HD sound quality if distortion occurs on your device. Potential customers are willing to pay the price for the better sound quality.
Accudio includes the filters adaptable to 600 different earphone and headset models. The optimized setting values for each filter are saved in the server side. It is thought each music device has its own trait. The difference among devices comes from distortion. The more distortion occurs, the bigger fatigue you get. Your ears will notice it.
For example, if you keep listening to music with a lot of low sounds, you will have a hard time catching other sound later. It’s masking effect. Think when a train passes by, you can’t hear someone right next to you. Likewise, the low sound covers up high sound. That’s why balance matters. Accudio helps adjust balance of music and forward the original sound to listeners.
As matter of fact, Accudio can provide the high-end music fans with enormous value. For an audio system, I have poured in money that you could buy a nice car in Korea. With Accudio, you can simulate the sound from the expensive devices and think over before you actually buy it.
These days, it’s hard to keep watching the low definition movies because we’re already surrounded by high definition products and used to HD quality. Sound is the same. So, I would like to offer opportunities to listen to a variety of sounds.
What do you want to achieve from the Startup Nomad program and what’s your next move?
We’re looking for competent partners who would take Accudio one step forward in terms of marketing and technology. The best possible scenario is that we talk to Google and Apple into getting Accudio effect embedded in their mobile OS. The other option is that we turn to smartphone makers and ask them to take Accudio into their pre-equipped applications.
We have two respective goals in software and hardware development. Both are being reviewed. With this opportunity taken, we will do our best to tap into each possibility and get candid feedback as much as possible.