Mayht, A Small Startup, Is Taking On the World’s Largest Speaker Manufacturers

There are numerous ways to establish a company, but taking on a highly entrenched sector with a limited number of incumbents that have the market cornered demands a particularly courageous group of entrepreneurs. To take on internet search, for example, when the main company’s brand is practically associated with looking for anything on the internet, you’d have to be a unique kind of brazen. The world of speakers is similar; technology hasn’t advanced much in the last century, and just a few companies make practically every speaker component that sends Shania Twain’s dulcet tones into the ether around you.

Many entrepreneurs believe they can make a difference in the world, and I see hundreds of proposals for firms that are “making speakers better” in different ways every year. Every year, it fails miserably. Yes, there are advancements, but basic speaker technology seldom evolves in a manner that can be defined as really revolutionary. This year at CES, I had the opportunity to speak with the Mayht team, who may well be the exception to that general tendency.

The business has developed speakers that point in opposing directions, with motors that simultaneously move the speaker parts apart, generating a motion comparable to clapping your hands. That the speakers are precisely balanced is what this implies. The business argues that the effect is greater for the dollar and that the smaller speakers are more energy efficient in use as well as easier to freight and store. The speaker technology is intriguing, but what really attracted my attention was how a ragtag group of Dutch entrepreneurs plans to change things up.

Mayht is a software development firm. Early on in its journey, it concluded that battling head-to-head with the industry’s behemoths was pointless in the realm of speaker technology. The firm is seeking to develop what is effectively an outsourced R&D arm with a couple of patents and some nice reference speakers (i.e. prototypes they can show off to prospective partners). They’re the skunkworks that develops innovative and exciting technology before licencing it to well-known speaker companies. I decided to investigate the little Dutch business and see how it is tackling one of the most well-established consumer electronics sectors.

In this interview, I speak with the Mayht team and investors to learn more about what makes a plucky David stand out in a world of Goliaths.

“This speaker technology has been under development since 2016.” We were only doing prototypes for the first couple of years, but now we have a lot of things that are near to — or already in — mass production. “We’re not a driver maker; we only protect and licence the technology,” says Mayht CEO Mattias Scheek. “We can now demonstrate our technique in a variety of applications, ranging from soundbars to compact subwoofers to small voice-assistant speakers,” says the company. We think the latter, in particular, will cause significant market disruption. If an Echo Dot, for example, can mimic the sound of a Sonos One or a soundbar. Or if a speaker without a subwoofer can provide the same sound as one with one. It has a significant impact on the market. We can now reveal such items to the whole population.”

According to the business, it has developed a new generation of speaker drivers. A normal speaker driver features a membrane, but it can only move a little amount since the whole motor construction is hidden beneath the membrane. Mayht’s breakthrough is the placement of the motor structures on the membrane’s sidewalls. There will be increased migration and displacement as a result of this. In automotive engines, you’ll see something similar: You can construct a “larger” engine in one of two ways: you can make each cylinder bigger, which means more gas and air combination can explode and produce power, or you can make each cylinder smaller, which means less gas and air mixture can explode and create power. Alternatively, you may lengthen the stroke. Mayht is using the same concept with the speakers in this scene. In a variety of applications, speakers must be smaller — the business recommends smart home speakers like the Google Mini and Alexa’s speakers, as well as automotive technology, where space is limited. In addition, the business claims that their speaker technology lowers rattle:

While adding voice controllability, mesh Wi-Fi, beautiful design, battery management, and a terrific user experience were all significant advancements, the speaker technology itself remains lacklustre, according to the business.

“It’s the same tale for all the brands, including Bang & Olufsen, Bose, and Sony.” Because they all originate from the same factory, every firm utilises the same technology and drivers. There are three or four big manufacturers, and all of the other speaker brands rely on those manufacturers for its drivers. “It’s hardly surprising that there hasn’t been any innovation in that sector,” Scheek says. “Because the manufacturers don’t really create drivers, they aren’t compelled to build better technology.” They may alter the needle by 1% or 2%, but not enough to modify the driver’s whole design. To do so would require them to change their whole production system, which would be a major risk for those businesses.”

“Speaker businesses aren’t rewarded for really innovative products. From a financial standpoint, they must provide the highest quality at the lowest possible cost. As a result, there’s little motivation for speaker makers to innovate beyond the box and create something really unique,” says Mayht’s chief commercial officer, Max van den Berg. “To put this in context, since the beginning of our firm, we’ve talked with around 45 speaker companies throughout the world.” This is genuinely disruptive innovation since none of them had seen anything like it before.”

The firm just secured €4 million in a round led by forwarding One; I spoke with the partner who handled the investment to see why Forward One felt confident enough to put its money behind a company that appears to be fighting an uphill struggle from the outside.

“I believe Mayht’s uniqueness is due to the team. “The fact that the two founding brothers have been working with speakers since they were seven years old really struck me,” said Frederik Gerner, a partner at forwarding One, a venture capital company located in South Africa that invests in hardware firms. “Their tale about how they intend to disrupt the speaker market is very compelling! It’s a vast and still-growing market that’s been running on the same technology for decades, and it’s primed for change. In many sectors, hardware innovation is a genuine way to make a difference, and we view the need for high-tech hardware innovation as more feasible and crucial than ever.”

Developing a factory to compete with current speaker element manufacturers would be a fool’s errand, which the firm is avoiding by focusing on licencing instead, building a lean, engineering-focused workforce, and raising relatively modest sums of money. Mayht now employs 20 people, with over 70% of them working in engineering. The firm also took the astute decision of stacking its advisory board with strategically strong individuals who can offer a significant lot of influence, and who may well be the key to continuing to create this sort of business.

“In our advisory board, we have some highly experienced folks that are quite involved in the team. In the licencing department, there are two persons who used to work for Philips. One of them was in charge of Philips’ licencing department, which grew into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. He’s assisting us not just with the licencing framework, but also with the way you manage [patent] lawsuits. “He’s also a fantastic negotiator,” Scheek adds.

A prototype Mayht speaker is adjacent to a (far bigger) Sonos speaker. The two speakers, according to the business, offer the same sound loudness and quality. Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, May

The organisation emphasises the need of forming a business that is compatible with the sort of startup you are launching. Mayht, for example, has welcomed Piet Coelewij to its advisory board, who formerly served as managing director and VP of Global Operations at Sonos for five years. It also mentions the business’s chief commercial officer, Max van den Berg, who began his career with Sony as a marketing manager for personal audio in the mid-1990s and went on to hold top executive roles with the corporation for the next few decades. “Having the appropriate individuals in the room definitely helps open doors,” Scheek says, perhaps in the most understated remark of the year.

The firm built a brand that it hopes to use to co-brand with other businesses, which is a smart strategy that addresses a major branding issue. The majority of people have no idea who built the speaker parts within their speakers, and why should they? However, there are predicates in other sectors; most people don’t care who produced the CPUs inside their computers unless they’re a very special brand of geek — until Intel chose to step up the battle and launch the “Intel Inside” campaign when AMD began nibbling at its heels. Mayht has trademarked the Heartmotion brand, which is based on the same playbook. It intends to get its licensees to brand its speakers together. “Sonos is driven by Heartmotion” and similar phrases.

“Yeah, so Heartmotion would be our technological brand for licencing.” “We named it that because the speaker resembles a beating heart,” Scheek explains. “Our aim is to have it on every product, and for our technology partners to utilise it as part of their marketing on the product box.”

The business has a couple of brilliant talking points at its disposal by decreasing the size and weight of the speaker technology. It implies that vehicle and RV manufacturers can jam more sound into smaller places, such as door panels and dashboards, without sacrificing sound quality. Those are self-evident, but I was especially pleased by Mayht’s use of a variety of marketing themes that are particularly effective in the present context when (finally!) people are showing an interest in greener technology. Smaller speakers with high performance and low energy usage have a variety of unintended consequences. One example is the company’s prototype speaker, which uses Powerfoyle light-harvesting technology to produce a Bluetooth speaker that never stops playing music. Aside from energy usage, smaller form factors result in reduced weight and transportation volume, which has several environmental advantages.

Mayht is slowly positioning itself for an interesting 2022, thanks to its licencing-first business model backed by a patent portfolio strategy, a great founder storey, an advisory board staffed with a who’s-who of licencing and audio experts, and a willingness to move slowly enough to get things right the first time around. The team is hoping to be well-resourced as it prepares for a year of execution following years of planning and study.

“This is the year of putting our goods into the hands of people, and I’m looking forward to it.” For a long time, we’ve been working on it while remaining unseen. It’s funny because the industry knows this is fantastic, but the customer hasn’t had the opportunity to experience it yet. This is the year of the big unveiling for us. We’re going to do something on our own, in addition to working with our partners to deliver this to the customer…” Sheek pauses, wanting to tell me more but realising that the recorder is on. “We’ll unveil it in the second quarter of this year.” I can’t say much, but we’re working on a reference product that consumers will be able to purchase directly from us. We want people to sample it, so we’re creating a limited-edition speaker for them to try.”

The firm informed me that it doesn’t expect to earn much money on its own product and that this is only a mass-produced sample to raise brand recognition.

“We’re producing a product with the [3-inch] T3 driver ourselves because once you establish yourself, the entire industry starts to move.” “Over the years, we’ve created a lot of prototypes,” says van den Berg. The issue is that designing a new product takes time, and the major speaker manufacturers take their time. The corporation is taking a risk and taking issues into its own hands in order to get off to a fast start. “We believe [third-party designed speakers] take a little longer to develop since they need more time to make judgments.” Their items will most likely be available by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. Meanwhile, we believe it is critical that we inform customers about this technology. We don’t want to compete with anybody, but we believe what we’re doing is unique, and we’re delighted to produce a limited-edition Heartmotion-powered Bluetooth speaker.”

There are numerous ways to establish a company, but taking on a highly entrenched sector with a limited number of incumbents that have the market cornered demands a particularly courageous group of entrepreneurs. To take on internet search, for example, when the main company’s brand is practically associated with looking for anything on the internet, you’d have to be a unique kind of brazen. The world of speakers is similar; technology hasn’t advanced much in the last century, and just a few companies make practically every speaker component that sends Shania Twain’s dulcet tones into the ether around you.

Many entrepreneurs believe they can make a difference in the world, and I see hundreds of proposals for firms that are “making speakers better” in different ways every year. Every year, it fails miserably. Yes, there are advancements, but basic speaker technology seldom evolves in a manner that can be defined as really revolutionary. This year at CES, I had the opportunity to speak with the Mayht team, who may well be the exception to that general tendency.

The business has developed speakers that point in opposing directions, with motors that simultaneously move the speaker parts apart, generating a motion comparable to clapping your hands. That the speakers are precisely balanced is what this implies. The business argues that the effect is greater for the dollar and that the smaller speakers are more energy efficient in use as well as easier to freight and store. The speaker technology is intriguing, but what really attracted my attention was how a ragtag group of Dutch entrepreneurs plans to change things up.

Mayht is a software development firm. Early on in its journey, it concluded that battling head-to-head with the industry’s behemoths was pointless in the realm of speaker technology. The firm is seeking to develop what is effectively an outsourced R&D arm with a couple of patents and some nice reference speakers (i.e. prototypes they can show off to prospective partners). They’re the skunkworks that develops innovative and exciting technology before licencing it to well-known speaker companies. I decided to investigate the little Dutch business and see how it is tackling one of the most well-established consumer electronics sectors.

In this interview, I speak with the Mayht team and investors to learn more about what makes a plucky David stand out in a world of Goliaths.

A Mayht speaker prototype next to a (much larger) Sonos speaker. The company claims the two speakers have the same sound volume and quality.

“This speaker technology has been under development since 2016.” We were only doing prototypes for the first couple of years, but now we have a lot of things that are near to — or already in — mass production. “We’re not a driver maker; we only protect and licence the technology,” says Mayht CEO Mattias Scheek. “We can now demonstrate our technique in a variety of applications, ranging from soundbars to compact subwoofers to small voice-assistant speakers,” says the company. We think the latter, in particular, will cause significant market disruption. If an Echo Dot, for example, can mimic the sound of a Sonos One or a soundbar. Or if a speaker without a subwoofer can provide the same sound as one with one. It has a significant impact on the market. We can now reveal such items to the whole population.”

According to the business, it has developed a new generation of speaker drivers. A normal speaker driver features a membrane, but it can only move a little amount since the whole motor construction is hidden beneath the membrane. Mayht’s breakthrough is the placement of the motor structures on the membrane’s sidewalls. There will be increased migration and displacement as a result of this. In automotive engines, you’ll see something similar: You can construct a “larger” engine in one of two ways: you can make each cylinder bigger, which means more gas and air combination can explode and produce power, or you can make each cylinder smaller, which means less gas and air mixture can explode and create power. Alternatively, you may lengthen the stroke. Mayht is using the same concept with the speakers in this scene. In a variety of applications, speakers must be smaller — the business recommends smart home speakers like the Google Mini and Alexa’s speakers, as well as automotive technology, where space is limited. In addition, the business claims that their speaker technology lowers rattle:

While adding voice controllability, mesh Wi-Fi, beautiful design, battery management, and a terrific user experience were all significant advancements, the speaker technology itself remains lacklustre, according to the business.

“It’s the same tale for all the brands, including Bang & Olufsen, Bose, and Sony.” Because they all originate from the same factory, every firm utilises the same technology and drivers. There are three or four big manufacturers, and all of the other speaker brands rely on those manufacturers for their drivers. “It’s hardly surprising that there hasn’t been any innovation in that sector,” Scheek says. “Because the manufacturers don’t really create drivers, they aren’t compelled to build better technology.” They may alter the needle by 1% or 2%, but not enough to modify the driver’s whole design. To do so would require them to change their whole production system, which would be a major risk for those businesses.”

“Speaker businesses aren’t rewarded for really innovative products. From a financial standpoint, they must provide the highest quality at the lowest possible cost. As a result, there’s little motivation for speaker makers to innovate beyond the box and create something really unique,” says Mayht’s chief commercial officer, Max van den Berg. “To put this in context, since the beginning of our firm, we’ve talked with around 45 speaker companies throughout the world.” This is genuinely disruptive innovation since none of them had seen anything like it before.”

The firm just secured €4 million in a round led by forwarding One; I spoke with the partner who handled the investment to see why Forward One felt confident enough to put its money behind a company that appears to be fighting an uphill struggle from the outside.

“I believe Mayht’s uniqueness is due to the team. “The fact that the two founding brothers have been working with speakers since they were seven years old really struck me,” said Frederik Gerner, a partner at forwarding One, a venture capital company located in South Africa that invests in hardware firms. “Their tale about how they intend to disrupt the speaker market is very compelling! It’s a vast and still-growing market that’s been running on the same technology for decades, and it’s primed for change. In many sectors, hardware innovation is a genuine way to make a difference, and we view the need for high-tech hardware innovation as more feasible and crucial than ever.”

Developing a factory to compete with current speaker element manufacturers would be a fool’s errand, which the firm is avoiding by focusing on licencing instead, building a lean, engineering-focused workforce, and raising relatively modest sums of money. Mayht now employs 20 people, with over 70% of them working in engineering. The firm also took the astute decision of stacking its advisory board with strategically strong individuals who can offer a significant lot of influence, and who may well be the key to continuing to create this sort of business.

“In our advisory board, we have some highly experienced folks that are quite involved in the team. In the licencing department, there are two persons who used to work for Philips. One of them was in charge of Philips’ licencing department, which grew into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. He’s assisting us not just with the licencing framework, but also with the way you manage [patent] lawsuits. “He’s also a fantastic negotiator,” Scheek adds.

A prototype Mayht speaker is adjacent to a (far bigger) Sonos speaker. The two speakers, according to the business, offer the same sound loudness and quality. Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, May

The organisation emphasises the need of forming a business that is compatible with the sort of startup you are launching. Mayht, for example, has welcomed Piet Coelewij to its advisory board, who formerly served as managing director and VP of Global Operations at Sonos for five years. It also mentions the business’s chief commercial officer, Max van den Berg, who began his career with Sony as a marketing manager for personal audio in the mid-1990s and went on to hold top executive roles with the corporation for the next few decades. “Having the appropriate individuals in the room definitely helps open doors,” Scheek says, perhaps in the most understated remark of the year.

The firm built a brand that it hopes to use to co-brand with other businesses, which is a smart strategy that addresses a major branding issue. The majority of people have no idea who built the speaker parts within their speakers, and why should they? However, there are predicates in other sectors; most people don’t care who produced the CPUs inside their computers unless they’re a very special brand of geek — until Intel chose to step up the battle and launch the “Intel Inside” campaign when AMD began nibbling at its heels. Mayht has trademarked the Heartmotion brand, which is based on the same playbook. It intends to get its licensees to brand its speakers together. “Sonos is driven by Heartmotion” and similar phrases.

“Yeah, so Heartmotion would be our technological brand for licencing.” “We named it that because the speaker resembles a beating heart,” Scheek explains. “Our aim is to have it on every product, and for our technology partners to utilise it as part of their marketing on the product box.”

The business has a couple of brilliant talking points at its disposal by decreasing the size and weight of the speaker technology. It implies that vehicle and RV manufacturers can jam more sound into smaller places, such as door panels and dashboards, without sacrificing sound quality. Those are self-evident, but I was especially pleased by Mayht’s use of a variety of marketing themes that are particularly effective in the present context when (finally!) people are showing an interest in greener technology. Smaller speakers with high performance and low energy usage have a variety of unintended consequences. One example is the company’s prototype speaker, which uses Powerfoyle light-harvesting technology to produce a Bluetooth speaker that never stops playing music. Aside from energy usage, smaller form factors result in reduced weight and transportation volume, which has several environmental advantages.

Mayht’s Heartmotion speaker prototype lineup. Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, Mayht, May

Mayht is slowly positioning itself for an interesting 2022, thanks to its licencing-first business model backed by a patent portfolio strategy, a great founder storey, an advisory board staffed with a who’s-who of licencing and audio experts, and a willingness to move slowly enough to get things right the first time around. The team is hoping to be well-resourced as it prepares for a year of execution following years of planning and study.

“This is the year of putting our goods into the hands of people, and I’m looking forward to it.” For a long time, we’ve been working on it while remaining unseen. It’s funny because the industry knows this is fantastic, but the customer hasn’t had the opportunity to experience it yet. This is the year of the big unveiling for us. We’re going to do something on our own, in addition to working with our partners to deliver this to the customer…” Sheek pauses, wanting to tell me more but realising that the recorder is on. “We’ll unveil it in the second quarter of this year.” I can’t say much, but we’re working on a reference product that consumers will be able to purchase directly from us. We want people to sample it, so we’re creating a limited-edition speaker for them to try.”

The firm informed me that it doesn’t expect to earn much money on its own product and that this is only a mass-produced sample to raise brand recognition.

“We’re producing a product with the [3-inch] T3 driver ourselves because once you establish yourself, the entire industry starts to move.” “Over the years, we’ve created a lot of prototypes,” says van den Berg. The issue is that designing a new product takes time, and the major speaker manufacturers take their time. The corporation is taking a risk and taking issues into its own hands in order to get off to a fast start. “We believe [third-party designed speakers] take a little longer to develop since they need more time to make judgments.” Their items will most likely be available by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. Meanwhile, we believe it is critical that we inform customers about this technology. We don’t want to compete with anybody, but we believe what we’re doing is unique, and we’re delighted to produce a limited-edition Heartmotion-powered Bluetooth speaker.”

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