It’s taken me months of procrastination to write this letter to Users of and Investors in PUMP Audio.
The reason is that I haven’t wanted to face the hard facts that need to be faced. I’ve been hoping that a “hallelujah!” idea to get PUMP back on track would materialise but, alas, it hasn’t.
Since the failure of the last product launch we did for PUMP Aurrus – a product which we all put a huge amount of effort in to making better than the market leading manufacturers, but for a fraction of the price – we’ve been scratching our heads and asking questions about how we can move forward.
I posted a plan to Users and Investors on October 11th 2021.
It detailed our proposal for a modest funding round, precisely what we would do with the funds raised, and our plan to achieve profitability.
Honestly, I was expecting more interest from our current Investors and Users, but the interest was simply not there.
I don’t know for sure why it wasn’t there, but it was as though the PUMP vision had lost its sparkle in the eyes of Investors, and perhaps – if I’m brutally honest — even in the founder, yours truly.
When I started PUMP Audio way back when, friends – both business savvy and not – advised me that it was an extremely competitive market. The implication was that I was crazy to try…
I’ve never been one to be too overly concerned with such considerations. In fact I saw it as a good thing because, after all, what new entrant would be crazy enough to compete with us?!
Funnily enough I was listening to an interview with legendary investor Warren Buffet yesterday and he talked a little about how Richard Branson tried to take on Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the late 90s with Virgin Cola.
Buffet was making the point that it was a doomed effort from the start, because the incumbent brands have such fortified “moats” (his words) around them, so there was no way that a new entrant had any chance to take them on.
Let me be clear; I am not comparing myself to Richard Branson. But my dream with PUMP was BIG.
I am making the point that even entrepreneurs with the talent and resources of Branson choose the wrong businesses to enter sometimes…
Put simply, PUMP was a crazy dream that I committed myself to wholly for years of my life and have continued to finance to this day.
We did two rounds of funding on the Seedrs platform, to allow Users who believed in our products and vision to take a stake in the business.
I haven’t calculated how much I have personally invested financially, but it’s a lot.
We tried everything from being unique and innovative, hiring proven experience, trying to learn from competitors, as well as doing things they wouldn’t do.
In short, we tried everything. And to the best of our ability.
But in the end, we just couldn’t achieve profitability in the headphone and audio market.
It’s been a burden on my mind for months now because I wanted to go to Investors and Users and say “I’ve got it! This is what’s going to make PUMP break through to the mainstream”.
But the idea hasn’t come. We’re forced to face the reality that it has been too difficult for us to make it in the headphone business.
So Is This The End?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
I have some ideas, and I’d like to run them past the PUMP community, by which I mean Users and Investors…
I don’t personally believe that the business model we have been pursuing (i.e. create a global brand sold by retailers all around the World) is feasible anymore. I touched on this in the Memo to Investors in October.
So for us to continue, we would need a new business model.
I do think that the model described in the Memo could potentially work, however its speculative, and would require investment either financially or via new talent prepared to put in ‘sweat equity’ to achieve the goals.
If you would be interested in such a task and have the experience and enthusiasm, please get in touch.
Alternatively, perhaps there is a talented and ambitious (or experienced) CEO out there who could take the reins and leverage what we have done already…
We are open to all ideas.
…and perhaps this is the most realistic course of action, is that we could pivot PUMP into other sectors.
I’ve had ideas about doing an incredible sunglasses brand for a few years now (yes, I hear you telling me that is a ridiculously competitive market as well, and I take your point, which is probably why we haven’t tried it).
I’ve also had ideas about a trend that we’re seeing more and more of; “game of skill” prize businesses.
This would work by us buying and reviewing some really nice high end (expensive!) audio equipment, sell tickets, and announce the winner each week, month, or however often via a live draw that’s broadcast in real time.
Before you think I’ve lost the plot, I do have friends with a successful business who operate this model in a different industry and it does quite well for them, as well as affording the entrants the possibility of winning something they covet, but would otherwise be unaffordable to them.
Let us know what you think of this idea?
Another angle could be to pivot PUMP in to an NFT music label.
I personally think that this could be the most viable course of action and the best “fit” for PUMP.
We could contract with incredible artists and create amazing limited edition art — perhaps both music and visual — which people could invest in and freely trade on the various NFT platforms out there.
We do already know a couple of very talented NFT Artists who can advise us, as well as many conventional music artists, who we could work with to get in to this new frontier under the PUMP label.
If this is something you would be interested in seeing PUMP doing please let us know.
I’m aware that this letter has turned in to a slight ramble/brainstorm and that it may come off as rather frantic.
I assure you it is not. I’ve given it more thought than probably any other decision I’ve ever made.
We’ve put so much effort, money, and physical and mental energy in to PUMP Audio over the last 8 years that I still want it to succeed — even if its in a different incarnation to how we originally intended.
I am also acutely aware of the investment from hundreds of Investors who backed us and hoped we would become a “unicorn” company.
I feel an obligation to you, and I always will.
I’ve also put 8 years if my life in to PUMP and I don’t want to see it wither away.
But I do need a break from the constant capital drain – both intellectual and financial.
So, we are not closing PUMP down, but rather putting it in to a state of hibernation, until we find the right opportunity, the right people step forward to take a good crack at it, or we have the “aha!” moment that sparks its next incarnation.
It may be that the opportunity is a flash of inspiration for a new innovation in the audio market.
Or it could be an idea to transition to a new product category.
Or it could be an incredible person (or people) who come forward to breath new life into the brand, with a new vision, and the skill set to implement it.
If you feel this is you, do not hesitate to contact us.
I hope an incredible idea or opportunity will come along right after we publish this. Or perhaps there will be one in 6 months or a year…
I’d like to thank our supporters. You are amazing and words cannot express what your support and encouragement has meant to us.
I’m sure there was an ending to an old movie that went something like “it’s not goodbye, its see you again” but for the life of me I can’t find the quote.
Perhaps I imagined it.
Anyhow, I don’t wish this to be goodbye. I wish that PUMP will rise again like a phoenix from the flames.
If you are interested in getting involved in making that happen, please get in touch :-)
All the best,