November 9, 2015
Shop Talk

Q&A with Andy & Emily Proos, Co-founders, Bluewire Audio LLC

Emily Proos, co-founder & CEO, and Andy Proos, co-founder & president, Bluewire Audio LLC, Northborough

Andy Proos first got the idea for Bluewire Audio in 2009 while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. He wanted to listen to music safely while out on long runs in his rural neighborhood and didn't want to use earbuds or earphones that would cancel out traffic noise and other dangers. When his daughter Emily Proos was in her senior year at Babson College studying business administration, they founded Bluewire Audio to develop a Bluetooth speaker system that runners could insert into their headgear and avoid putting in their ears.

What has been the most difficult hurdle in getting the business started?

ANDY: Before we even incorporated last summer, we did the patent work to make sure it was as product that no one else had invented. That is amazingly convoluted process. It was underway for about a year before we even incorporated. We are patent-pending still.

EMILY: It is just this blackhole where you file and don't hear anything for two years. It could turn out that someone filed a similar patent minutes before you.

ANDY: We are on board for patent reform.

How is the product developing coming?

ANDY: We are doing one more round of testing on the speakers to get the optimum sound. We hope that by December we can have the first 250 prototypes in hand for formal beta testing. We will be approaching local running clubs and get some folks who don't know us or love us to test them out for us. It is definitely a gadget-oriented group, so that is nice.

How is the product being rolled out?

EMILY: We just got a spot at the Boston Marathon for this year, which we are really excited about. That is where we are going to officially launch the product and market it. Right now, we are really trying to get every piece in place, so we can be prepared to move forward with that and have all the inventory ready.

We are going to launch a Kickstarter campaign before we go there, just to raise a little capital. That helps us get our name out there and our story.

What is the best part about working with family?

ANDY: I get to see her all the time. That is the nice thing. It is exciting. The whole family has been involved, even as unofficial advisors.

EMILY: My cousins all have different backgrounds. One of my cousins is an artist, so he helped us design the logo. His brother is a video guy and an audio guy, so he helped us film the Kickstarter, and he is doing some of the testing on the speakers. The whole family is really getting involved.

The best part about working with my dad is he definitely wants me to succeed as much as he wants to.

ANDY: For selfish as well as altruistic reasons, I want her to succeed.

On the flip side, what is the worst part about working with family?

ANDY: I have a habit of continually thinking about this, and perhaps I intrude on places where we really shouldn't be talking about business. Like, "You couldn't have talked to me about that when we were sitting around and doing nothing?" That is the nature of the game. You have these things in your head, and for good or for bad, if Emily happens to be sitting there, I can blurt out some question.

EMILY: We did kind of develop a different aspect of our relationship now. We are not just father and daughter now; we are business partners. If one of us is slacking on tasks when we should have had it done, we kind of not take it personally when the other one says, "You should have done that. Get on it and do it."

ANDY: Those are her specific instructions.

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