Melbourne-based audio tech startup nura made headlines, last year, when its flagship product – ‘nuraphones’ – attracted US$1.8 million on Kickstarter, making it the most-funded Australian campaign ever. Since then, the company has continued to gather pre-launch support for their headphones, described by one investor – UK music industry veteran Ric Salmon – as a ‘game-changer’
Earlier this month, nura announced it had raised $6 million in seed capital, bringing its total funding to more than $8.5 million. Major investors from the seed round included Sydney’s Blackbird Ventures and former Google Access CEO Craig Barratt plus Brian Message and Ric Salmon from UK-based ATC management, which represents musicians including Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. The co-founders – electronics engineer Kyle Slater, hearing specialist Luke Campbell and electrical engineer Dragan Petrovic – have also received support from accelerators like the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).
The latest capital raise will be used to fulfil pre-orders from over 80 countries and bolster production of nuraphones, which is a ‘world-first innovation’ according to Slater, nura’s CEO: “nuraphones are the only product that automatically and objectively detect an individual’s unique hearing profile and adapts the sound to match their ears perfectly, using in-ear and over-ear design, so they hear every note, feel every beat. Prior to nuraphones, there really was no such thing as the perfect set of headphones. Now, we’re able to offer one that perfectly suits the hearing needs of everyone. It’s a new, more immersive way to experience music”
Slater spoke to Dynamic Business about the company’s grass-roots approach to creating buzz for their flagship product, available later in the year, as well as its investor strategy and future plans.
Dynamic Business: How did the company get its start?
Slater: Luke and I were working about 50 metres from each other for five years before we met. We were both wrapping up our PhDs, and I picked up some work co-supervising a project with him. I had been bubbling away on a concept of adaptive headphones for quite some time, but I wasn’t sure whether it would be practical. One day, I asked Luke if he thought it was possible to put a hearing measurement machine into a pair of headphones…and that set us on the course of inventing nuraphones. Luke, Dragan and I were fortunate to have extremely supportive friends at the very initial stages of the company, before our product demos and market traction. In the space of 15 months, nura has grown from three to a team of 12 people.
Dynamic Business: What fuelled your Kickstarter success?
Slater: We relied very little on social media and industry influencers to drive interest early on in our Kickstarter campaign. We literally went out into the world and showed hundreds of people the product demo we had created: From San Francisco to Berlin, to Warp Records in the UK and over to Denmark Technical University, and of course all over Australia. I’ll admit that it was a physically demanding way of getting the word out, but we knew that our product spoke for itself. And once people tried the demo, they were instantly sold. Our success with Kickstarter demonstrated the global market traction for nuraphones, which helped us secure seed funding.
Dynamic Business: Who’ve been your main consumers?
Slater: Typically, Australia accounts for about 3% of any given crowdfunding campaign but in our case, it was 30%. We are very proud we had reached this many people in Australia. In total, we attracted backing from over 80 countries, with the US being the strongest, so the interest was significantly widespread. nuraphones were a global product from day one, so there is no going back!
Dynamic Business: What’s your investor strategy?
Slater: Often people assume that investors are only there to hand out money. But investors, much like other advisors, can act as a form of headlights for your business. They help you connect with other likeminded people and businesses as you attempt to navigate and drive your company forward. For this reason, we were very selective with the people who invested in nura. We attracted a remarkable and diverse group of investors from the music, tech and business industries, who will provide invaluable insight for us as we prepare to ship the product for the first time this year. They believe in our team, our vision and our ability to succeed.
Dynamic Business: What has been the biggest challenge ?
Slater: I think the most challenging thing, and equally the most important, was forming a diverse team of employees, partners and collaborators who possess a similar vision. It’s absolutely essential to incorporate unique experiences, backgrounds and skills when building a company. The challenge with diverse groups is that sometimes they fall apart. Our team is held together strongly by a united and passionate vision for creating the perfect sound for every person in any place, and in time we have evolved to become incredibly adaptable and creative. This idea of “contained diversity” makes nura much bigger than any given person.
Dynamic Business: Finally, what’s next for the company?
Slater: We’ll be selling our product directly from our website (nuraphone.com) and sharing the nura experience with as many people as possible. We have an active research and development team that is continually evolving our core technology and we are not short of ambition. Our company was formed to deliver the perfect sound in any place for every person and that’s what we intend to do. Stay tuned!