This Entrepreneur Wants to Put a World-Class Sound Studio in Your Headphones
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Helmuts Bems. I am CEO and co-founder of Sonarworks, a company changing how music is being created and listened to. “Sonarworks SR” (which stands for Studio Reference) delivers exact studio sound to any headphones or speakers. It is currently used in over 25,000 recording studios and is quickly becoming an industry standard around the world.
What inspired you to create this product?
I have always been inspired by and involved with music. Music always keeps me going in the hardest and happiest of times. At the very onset of building Sonarworks, I was visiting a recording studio that was recording a band I knew. It was a busy place with lots of people mingling and working, and the recording engineer tried our software to listen to the song recorded. Everything became completely still and I could clearly see little dust particles floating in the sunlight in the room. The music sounded spectacular. At that moment I could feel with all my senses how something magical was created. This was a deeply inspiring, artistic moment that shook me up for a very long time.
How is your product different from others like it?
We are the only company able to deliver an exact studio sound and the only company with consistent technology for both speakers and headphones. We also believe that for an innovation to be viable, it has to be usable for everybody -- therefore, we put enormous effort into usability and design. We even employ cognitive scientists to achieve this.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I have had two experiences with co-founder conflict and been fortunate to resolve both of these conflicts without killing the companies. A founder conflict is extremely difficult because it is always deeply personal for parties involved and has the potential to affect the company in a very destructive way.
How did you resolve it?
One way is to achieve a balance of power. By this I mean it can be useful to arrive at a situation where both parties have ways to hurt each other. This can be a very delicate and risky dance for all concerned, but for me, it has worked. After some initial pain on both sides, a balance of power can ultimately lead to everyone searching for a workable solution while remaining good friends.
What drives you to innovate?
I want to improve the world and spend my life doing something meaningful. It is incredibly gratifying to be approached by people telling me how much Sonarworks has improved their work and lives. That is what matters more than numbers.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take”, said Wayne Gretzky, the legendary hockey player. Doing something for the first time is often scary and prone to errors, and this statistical reasoning helps me overcome the fear. The other angle to this is that you have to try many times before you can expect to succeed.