Rev’s summer Hardware Accelerator is in the middle of Sprint 3, the phase in which member teams work towards prototyping their product ideas. Teams are engaging in one-on-one work with mentors and technical instructors, as well as collecting insight from successful local hardware-based startups. As the teams work toward their final product concepts and prepare for Demo Day on August 11th, we’ll be sharing profiles of them and the story of their progress.
When Steven Dourmashkin pulls me over to his desk and offers me a ring, he’s not proposing — he’s introducing me to Specdrums, the company that he and cofounder Matt Skeels created in 2014. The ring in question is compact, made of silicone, and comes in several different colors. When the user taps it against a colored surface – a wall, a Post-It note, a pant leg – a sound plays. Tap on a different colored surface, and the sound changes style or pitch. The ring, connected via Bluetooth to the user’s phone, can loop in as many as 1000 sound/color combos, creating a veritable cacophony of music and noise.
“It started as a way to bring my drums anywhere,” explains Steven, a recent graduate of Cornell University’s Masters of Engineering program. “I grew up as a drummer, and I was always limited because I couldn’t bring my drum set just anyplace.”
While it began as a portable drum set, its purposes have broadened. Specdrums now allows the user to play a variety of sounds in addition to drumbeats, including animal noises, guitar chords, and piano keys. “You don’t have to be a musician,” says Steven. “It’s something anyone can play as a way to be creative and make music.”
The team’s focus shifted in the company’s early stages after talking to potential customers through eLab at Cornell. Also among their target market: teens. “It’s nice for parents,” Steven adds. “These days kids are always on their phones. This way, they’re not just staring at the screen, they’re out in the world moving around.”
While Specdrums functions mainly as a creative sound tool, it’s also got a social side. A main feature of the app is the ability to record Specdrum loops, or “Sploops,” of the user’s original musical blends and share them with friends and family.
After eLab, the team joined Rev in December 2015 and credit access to the Prototyping Shop as their source for several technological resources, including the 3D printers (Mojo, Printrbot Simple Metal, and Printrbot Metal Plus) and the Epilog Zing laser cutter. “Working in Rev [also] gives us constant access to many other startups and advisors who we are able to ask [about] anything from engineering to business planning and customer development,” recalled Matt in a quote from a recent Cornell Daily Sun article. Since joining Rev, Steven and Matt have worked closely with Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Ken Rother and Brad Treat, who’ve helped guide the business side of Specdrums.
“Ithaca’s been great,” says Steven, recalling Specdrum’s early stages of development. “There’s a big music community here, especially at Ithaca College.” He also credits the students at Cornell who have helped them test their product.
How will Specdrums hit their next high note? The team plans to launch a Kickstarter fund to get their product on the market. For more information about the Hardware Accelerator Program and its 2016 teams, click here.
Want to win a Specdrums ring? Join us on August 11th for Demo Day, where you’ll have the chance to be one of the lucky prizewinners! RSVP here.