The End?

Dear All,

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.

You can read the Memo here in case you missed it

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.

Alternatively…

…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,

Adam

 

28 Comments

  1. Nathan S   •   06/04/2022   •   
    Reply

    I hope the 5 year guarantee on the product I bought will still be honoured? I’ve had 3 different pump products in my time and I always found that the sound quality was very good, at the expense of everything else.
    -build quality was generally poor
    – microphone quality was poor
    – Headphone volume control way too coarse so never comfortable
    – “Battery Low” warning when my phone still thought there was 40% battery. This made the headphones totally useless once lower than 40% and made the effective battery life much worse
    So many niggles that made the products poor overall when used in the real world.

    1. Jammal   •   09/04/2022   •   
      Reply

      If a company closes you lose all warranties.

  2. R Tild   •   05/04/2022   •   
    Reply

    I would close down. Don’t risk another penny.

  3. Ian Graham   •   04/04/2022   •   
    Reply

    Hi Adam,

    Its clear that the people responding with moans or complaints have never tried to launch a business or product and these mercenaries expected a quick ROI but they should realise that start-up investment is simply a gamble and an offer to help an ambition. If you want guaranteed return, put your money in an ISA! Please ignore these comments.

    I applaud your attempts to get a business going and for challenging the establishment, this is a very big task. I’m an early investor from the 1st round and hoped that you would succeed because of the great tech and sound from your new products. I think however there are a few fundamental business plan flaws that some of the other responses have also picked up e.g. product name, lack of clear route to market, product aesthetics/weight/quality and marketing.

    I’d suggest that you do need to focus on a core product (I’d suggested this to you previously!) and you need a blue-sky strategy to get the name widely known (not Pump please – that’s colloquial for farting in my neck of the woods!) e.g. some partnership with an established music download site e.g. Tidal, etc where they can offer discounted headphones for a 2 year subscription to their site, etc. This would be good brand awareness raising for you and good marketing for them, win-win for all, etc.

  4. Glenn Langford   •   01/04/2022   •   
    Reply

    Hi Adam
    Sorry to hear about the demise of Pump Audio.
    I do agree with one of your investors that Pump was probably not the right name to stand up against the established ear bud brands. To be honest, if I’d told friends that I’d purchased a pair of Pumps they’d probably think that I was looking for a quick way to drain the garden pond or they would be checking my footwear.
    Maybe a more audio related name would’ve had more impact, for instance “Soundz” or possibly “Muzicks”, something of that kind.
    I know you have put a lot of personal time and effort into the project just as you did with Talex. but putting the brand into hibernation will perhaps give you some time to have a major rethink of the brand. By the way I still have my trusty Talex Wikango sitting on the top of my dashboard and it’s still working as good as it did the day I bought it. Well pleased with that.
    I am sure something good will arise out the situation you now find yourself in. Be positive.
    All the best for the future.

  5. BARMA   •   30/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I am sorry to see things gone this way, but I have to agree I think it’s best to shut down immediately. No repercussions no worry, no more financial pain for you.

    The world is in a vastly different place to when I put my investment originally in.

    I’m sorry it has come to this for you.

  6. Bernie Mac   •   30/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Let it go. The way the Country/economy is going people won’t be buying luxury items.

  7. Sarah   •   29/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    You’ve only had 20 replies, that says it all if I am being honest. Best of luck with future, but I think based on the total comments it’s run out of fuel.

  8. Darren   •   29/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Hi Adam, I hope you read this with the posivite, supportive intent with which I am writing it. I think the problem is the lack of focus. As soon as something stops being the new sparkly product you’re off chasing the new one. Nothing feels truly finished before focus is lost and new is the answer. The same could be said now for the entire business. I still believe there are diamonds in Pump. You need to simplify and focus on product perfection with market leading customer service. To this day the wireless buds still have the best sound quality in the entire market, but they’re too heavy to wear to the gym and there is a weak user interface with no mobile control app. If you dropped everything else and just worked on them until all feedback was 100% you still have an opertunity to win in this crowded market. You’re so close with this one product! I hope you take some time to focus and regroup, stop looking for the greener grass, because with some work you’re standing on it!

  9. Carl S   •   29/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I am going to get my money back one way or another, I will take legal action against PUMP AUDIO LIMITED. Especially with the “delay of 20 months”

    I am a partner in a law firm.

    You are not fit to be a Director in office. I will give you 3 months to close down for being insolvent otherwise I will come for you and remove the LTD liability status with the evidence I have.

  10. Peter   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    The headphone market moves fast and it’s significantly different today from when you started. More established brands than Pump have failed. Sound above all else, an admirable objective and achieved with many products. It’s a sad message but also brave and realistic to put on ice for now and seek a buyer.

  11. Andy   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Sad news indeed. You had a good product, and certainly all the original in-ear phones (and the mix/duo) were of exceptional quality…I just never saw them marketed anywhere except Kickstarter and your own website, which left you without any reliable or scaled-up distribution channels. I do appreciate the apologetic tone of the message, perhaps less so the odd meandering into other ventures, but it would be good if you address if investors funds were gone? in limbo? etc as Seedrs it has to be said is remairkably uninformative, and as a business perhaps does you no favours in courting interest from people that have previously backed you.

  12. Brian A Grant   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Whilst all is very interesting, equally whilst it is a pity it has come to an end, the quality may have been there, but regrettable the name PUMP did it no good turns, It needed something that told the person interest what it was straight off. A pump puts air into an item or pushes the water out with no noise. Save funds leave well alone and do what you know best. Good luck.

  13. Hope D   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I read all the way to the end, hoping that I will come across information on when we are going to get part or some of the money back! What a disappointment!
    The way the cookie crumbles!

  14. Hope D   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Can we not salvage something out of what is left. Just ludicrous to think I would pour more money where J did not even reap a penny!
    Makes me sick to the core!

  15. Su Mc   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I came into this on the back of my Talex but have possibly let the side down by not purchasing headphones as the selling point always seemed to be Great Bass, loud music. I am more interested in the spoken word so was uncertain how any of the offerings would handle speech. In the past I have found that too much bass just muddies spoken words.
    The emails with release details and deals have always annoyed me so much as well….no where did it ever say the cost of the products, so I was not going to go any further clicking through links.

  16. Patrick   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Not surprising and possibly as a result of the “Talex Effect”. I remind you of your April 2020 email:- “All of the major work is now*done* and all that’s left to do are a few final tweaks and TALEX 3 will be 100% ready! ” That was a gross misrepresentation and we had to wait almost 20 months before a, not fully working Talex, was shipped. In 2020 you confirmed that you had received orders for many thousands of units and therefore were holding substantial sums of money, for an item that was 20 months away from completion.
    The business plan appears to be (1) think of a product. (2) Say thay it is ready for launch (3) Receive the proceeds of the sales and then (4) Use those monies to develop and manufacture the product.
    An Adam Blair pre-launch… the words “touch” and “bargepole” spring to mind.

  17. Chris Newman   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I bought a Talex years ago – it was a good product that worked well. I must say I always found the headphone side of things to be a bit weird as there are so many great products out there already by Bose, Sennheiser, AKG etc. Rather like Richard Branson and Virgin Cola I can’t see any way in which anyone can dislodge these companies that have been around for decades.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do next.

  18. Drw Cannon   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I invested in Pump because I thought the products being produced were of great quality and the prices very competitive, I also understood that it was a high risk investment and happy that I got half my investment back from the taxman so that has lessened the blow.

    Its a real shame and I feel that perhaps the investment was wasted rather than having a clear plan for driving it forward on the internet and really raising its profile and expanding the customer base, but I obviously don’t know what was being done behind the scenes.

    I think the problem was partly that you needed a new market rather than relying on the existing customer base because there are only so many sets of headphones people really need. I personally have a couple of sets of Pump Mix, a pair of Mix Duo (really like these), two pairs of Zeus, I’ve even got a Pump Air, which doesn’t really float anymore but its great to have a strong magnetic Bluetooth speaker, but I didn’t need yet another pair at this time so didn’t buy the Aurrus. There must however be a load of people who do and I’d be happy to keep hearing about what is next.

    1. Graham   •   28/03/2022   •   
      Reply

      Maybe sunglasses with pump incorporated would be unique?

  19. Adam P   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I am sorry to hear that things have not panned out for Pump. However I have been most impressed by the Pump headphone range which I own all set types. Even the boom box.
    Just minor complications with battery life on some products. Quality and sound wise they are the best I have heard. Also the best bass sound in headsets. You should be proud of this Adam.
    I really hope you can rise up from the ashes and continue your dream. Ignore the silly and rude messages from others. Adam P

  20. Jay Watson   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Sad to hear this. I have two sets of Zeus, two wireless in-ears, and my original wired in-ear headphones, and I love them all. Losing my job three years ago has massively curtailed my spending money, otherwise I would’ve been waiting eagerly for your next projects. I really hope you are able to breathe life back into your dream.

  21. Anthony Mansell   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I bought a couple of Talex units and various headphones over the years all been good products . I hope you manage to find your next project soon!

  22. Chris Bird   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Empty words, dreamer. Unimpressed.Complete waste of my hard-earned cash used up in your failed business plan.Wish I’d left the cash under the mattress.Go get a proper job.

  23. Tony   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    It appears in a film called John Q as “ Not goodbye. Remember? See you later. “
    Also “ It’s not goodbye , it’s see you later “ is the title of a book by Richard Belford.

  24. Mike Harvey   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    I should have known better after Talex but Seeder seemed enthusiastic and I risked £500 fool and money easily parted .I even bought a couple of headphones Stupid! Never seen them advertised Hope your fantasies come true Kind Regards Mike Harvey

  25. Peter Rae   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Hi
    I have been a follower and purchaser of your product since the start and think the quality
    I’d great from the in ear wired to the over ear wireless to the in ear wireless
    Shame to see it going will have a think ! yes agree “Pump “ as a name did not do them justice !

  26. Phil   •   28/03/2022   •   
    Reply

    Hi Adam,

    That’s sad to hear. I’ve had two products from Atom.

    It might be worth considering an ‘active range’ as all of my products purchased have all been for the gym specifically. I have to admit, I do find the name “Pump” on the side of my Zues of the gym probably doesn’t strike quite has hard as other brands. Maybe a name change for the future?

Leave a comment