People who know me, when they ask me how I’m doing, are used to hearing me say, “Livin’ the dream!” Invariably, we both laugh. I have a confession to make, however: it’s only in the last few years that I’ve come to use that phrase. In all honesty, it used to annoy me when people said it. When I took the trouble to ask someone how they were getting along, and they snapped out a “Livin’ the dream!”, it always seemed to have a bit of a cynical, sardonic edge to it. Like they really meant the opposite, and were making a sarcastic comment that hinted at a weariness they felt with their everyday lives. It also seemed intended to shut down further inquiry, like it was a subject that they considered to be off-limits, and I would always politely oblige them.
Before the Dream Came the Nightmare
Fast forward to today, and I say “Livin’ the dream!” all the time. But I really mean it. And it has never been more true for me than it is today. It was a little more than three years ago that I was at my lowest ebb. I had just been forced to declare bankruptcy and fold my company when we unexpectedly lost our biggest client and couldn’t make payroll. It was a dark time. I felt obsolete. But I didn’t give in to that feeling, and I didn’t give up. Shortly thereafter, I literally had the dream that transformed my life. It was a true “Eureka!” moment, and I leapt out of bed, frantically pawed a pencil and scrap of paper out of the nightstand, and feverishly sketched out the idea before it evaporated; it was a truly new idea; the concept of Adaptable Audio Systems.
One is Actually Two
Few people know that the Site:1 is actually my second invention for Princeton Audio. The first idea was this concept of Adaptable Audio Systems, of being able to change the end-point of an audio system in order to future-proof it. The design for the Site:1 speaker came about as an extension of that first, grander vision. What I hastily sketched out that morning was the heart of the dream; a new design for Adaptable Audio Systems, a high-fidelity audio system that would sound and look beautiful, be imminently portable, and would never become obsolete. It was a system that would be modular in nature, and scalable, where each individual part could function independently, but could also form the foundation for a larger system with which it could seamlessly and wirelessly integrate, like a single autonomous singer that could instantly join with a choir, but still retain the ability to function independently as needed. It was fully formed in my mind. I saw it all at once; complete; perfect; unprecedented. Or was it?
Mike Does Due Diligence
As a result of my many years solving audio problems as a contractor for other companies, I’m very well-versed in the existing patents of many of the biggest audio companies, and I had never seen another idea like this one in all that time. Just to make sure, however, I quickly researched the idea to confirm that the concept had never been patented in the past. Now I had to protect my idea by applying for own patent, and here I hit the first of what would prove to be many, many walls. Patent applications are expensive to pursue, and I was the guy who had just lost his business and filed bankruptcy. If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid bankruptcy, let’s just say that banks don’t put a person in my circumstances at the very top of their list of preferred borrowers. With no bank willing to hear me out, I set to work scratching up the funds to apply for the patent myself.
TREDC to the Rescue
Eventually I wound up in front of a local 501c, the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (TREDC). They agreed to listen, I gave them my pitch and, after hearing it, they decided not to give me the low-interest loan that I’d been desperately hoping for. Instead, they went further, and they offered to take an equity position in my new company, supplying me with the capital I needed to file the patent.
Please Take a Number
You don’t get a patent simply by asking for one; it’s a long, complicated process. One government survey showed that only 11.4% of progenitor applications were allowed on the first action, the others being rejected. Of those that appealed their rejection, a full 38.7% were ultimately rejected after all appeals were exhausted. While my patent application basically sailed through with no problems, my experience was the exception, not the rule. But now, three long years later, the patent process has concluded, and the U.S. Patent Office is now issuing Princeton Audio a patent for Adaptable Audio Systems. With that out of the way, I can now safely disclose what we’ve really been up to for the past three years.
PSST! - We’re not really a portable Bluetooth audio speaker company.
The truth is, we never were. The Site:1 speaker was merely the first expression of this foundational idea of mobile Adaptable Audio Systems or (AAS), and this is really what Princeton Audio is all about. Our products will never become obsolete because they are designed from their conception to adapt to the way you want to listen. As a new company staking out a category that didn’t yet exist, we opted to enter the market in an existing category, that of portable Bluetooth audio speakers, promoting that first fruit of the AAS concept – the Site:1 – on its own considerable merits. That has gone rather well. But the time has come to let you in on the bigger picture. The Site:1 is your first step into an entirely new category of audio systems, one that you will never outgrow because it is designed to evolve along with you, to be the audio system you need at any given time, whether you are listening at home, on the road, or miles away from any power outlet or radio signal. And when Bluetooth5 comes out later this year, or some fresh technology eventually arrives that takes portable audio to an entirely new level, Site:1 owners like you won’t have to wistfully stand on the sidelines and read about it in the papers, because your Site:1 will be to ROCK IT.
The bottom line is this: The Site:1 is everything we promised you, but it is also much, MUCH more. Watch this space.
Livin’ the Dream! (Really)
I still have the dog-eared scrap of paper where I first described my Adaptable Audio Systems. I keep it close as a souvenir of the dream that I’ve pursued every waking hour since it first manifested itself to me. Today, inhabiting that dream is my daily reality. When people say that dreams can come true, they’re right, but that’s not the half of it. What they often don’t tell you is that dreams come true if you work like hell, refuse to be turned aside by endless challenges, and persevere in the face of legions of naysayers quoting conventional wisdom as if it was holy writ. Only then do your dreams have a fighting chance of coming true. But it is always worth it. Like Willy Wonka says in the famous last line of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, “…don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he'd ever wished for… He lived happily ever after.”
PS - Read the "Anti-Amazon" post that started our offer - Time is running out!