Starting this week we're going to be doing a two part blog post profiling our co-founders, Brian Carter and Gilbert Resendez. We hope you really enjoy getting to know our founders better as we let you take a peek behind he Audibility curtain.
While I (Gilbert) sit next to Brian everyday, I sat down and chatted with him about Audibility's beginnings, business in general, and even his love for Leonardo DiCaprio films.
How did you get the idea for Audibility?
The idea came from a combination of problems that I personally experience.
Problem 1: I lost my hearing at a very young age and have worn hearing aids my whole life. After I heard about how much lack of access there is to hearing aids (only 1 in 40 in need has access) I wanted to do something to give back.
Problem 2: While I don’t hear well, I can hear well enough to listen to music with earphones. With that said, I would put on earphones and immediately regret it because they would be so uncomfortable and fall out all the time. After wearing hearing aids my whole life, I knew that I could wear something comfortably all day long, which only made standard earphones that much more disappointing.
Problem 3: Tons of people experience Problem 2.
With these problems in mind, I worked with my co-founder to build a business model that solves these problems. Enter Audibility, a headphone company that focuses on the development of customized headphones and other personalized audio equipment. With each sale, the business donates directly to the Hear the World Foundation to improve access to hearing aids worldwide.
How has Audibility evolved since its first conception, and what is your favorite accomplishment with the company so far?
Audibility started as a mere business idea, comprised mostly of wild guesses about how one could build a headphone company with a giving model. Since then, our team has embarked on a journey to actually produce a product, put it in people’s ears, get feedback, and try and take it to market. Audibility has grown from a concept to an established business with a product ready for development in just over a year. I’d say my favorite accomplishment to date has been becoming a recipient of the Startup PDX Challenge. This gave us funding along with office space for the year!
You and Gilbert are pretty young. Given that, many people your age may be thinking, "I’ll just finish college and go to graduate school or get a job and think about starting a business later". Why did you choose to launch a business now?
I think your early twenties is the best time to fail. There’s no need to leave a career or bring the stress of a start-up home to a family with kids. There’s so little to lose, and those who are fresh out of college or grad school are also those with the most ambition, passion, and creativity as they step foot into the “real world” for the very first time. No matter what happens, the experience of starting a business is an extremely rewarding learning experience that will hold tremendous value in any future pursuits. Plus, if it works out, you’ll be working on something you love and will have the opportunity to share that with others. You might even pay off your student loans!
In college you were fairly involved – your activities include countless volunteer activates, dorm service coordinator, RA, and even spent a summer in Africa on a service project. How have those experiences shaped you and your views on entrepreneurship?
A lot of my volunteer and service experiences have focused on sustainable development. The goal of any sustainable development project I developed was to create something that enabled others to empower their own community and take ownership of positive change. When it comes to entrepreneurship, my experiences have led me to always reflect and ask “what can I do that makes it easier for others to do the right thing?” If your business creates an opportunity for others to do the right thing, then you’re doing it right.
What advice would you give to people who want to start a business while in college or graduate school?
If you’re set on starting a business while in school, consider it a great learning experience! The academic environment is full of resources to help you learn and get started on what it takes to start a business. Use your status as a student to get out in the real world and ask as many questions as possible. People are always much more willing to set aside time to speak with students (even the competition). But make sure you’re saving time for school too, that degree might be important.
What advice would you give young grads who are thinking about starting their own business?
It’s always wise to pursue your passions, but you should be aware that there are several avenues for doing so. Starting a business is just one of those, and its not meant for everyone. Make sure you understand the financial weight of your decisions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help to make your dream come true. People will provide invaluable feedback as to whether your idea is worth putting everything on the line for, so be sure to listen, and don’t be too stubborn if you hear something you don’t like. If you feel ready to go for it, you’re not, but you’ll at least know where to start and have a strong enough vision to figure the rest out with time.
When you aren’t working on Audibility or busy with graduate school, what do you like to do for fun?
I sleep, a lot, and drink a lot of coffee at local coffee shops. The two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand but I somehow make it work. I’ll also go on the occasional day-tip to the coast or Mt. Hood and just enjoy the PNW.
Favorite movie or TV show?
I’m a sucker for any Leonardo DiCaprio movie. My favorite is probably Shutter Island.
Why Leonardo DiCaprio?
Because he's a good actor, and he only chooses to star in roles he knows he can pull off. Plus he's an amazing director - I want him to direct more films.
Would you say there’s a particular book that’s helped shaped your worldview particularly relating to business and entrepreneurship?
I really resonate with Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s a good reminder to not take life so seriously, especially business.
Do you have any secret talents?
If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret. But my lesser known talents include my ability to play the piano, guitar, and euphonium.
If you could have coffee with a famous celebrity, who would it be and why?
That answer changes every month, but right now Adele is my current fad. Why her? Because she’s Adele.
Anything else for our readers?
Ask yourself this. “Am I signed up for Audibility newsletters?” If the answer is no, do that now at audibilityheadphones.com!
If you want to stay updated on all things Audibility, follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook, and sign up for email updates. Also, be sure to check in with our blog from time to time.
Lastly, check in next week to hear from our other founder, Gilbert!