How Turtle Beach is Mentoring Audio Tech’s Next Innovators

Gaming headset maker Turtle Beach's CTO Richard KulavikThis summer, four university teams from Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Berklee College of Music came to Silicon Valley with bright ideas in music and audio technology — from automatic volume reduction technology to music merchandise repurposing — ready to make their ideas a reality. But what they needed to do it was industry mentoring and networks. As members of Real Startup’s inaugural cohort of startups, they spent the month of September developing their products and business models with the mentorship of industry experts at leading companies including Turtle Beach, as well as Pandora, Warner Music Group, iZotope, Sennheiser, and Dolby, among others.

Turtle Beach’s product leadership

Turtle Beach opened the doors of its San Jose office to the startup teams on Monday, September 11. CTO Richard Kulavik coached the teams on their startups, and giving them valuable insight into current industry needs and trends in audio technology which vastly expanded their territory of product opportunities in the field. The teams were inspired to get their hands on headset prototypes, and left with ideas that they will use in the process of developing their startups over the next couple weeks. Yuval Adler, program participant and CEO of SterIO said: “interacting with industry partners gave me a more mature view of the opportunities and challenges in going forward with a new business venture”.

Turtle Beach and Real Startup came together to inspire and support the students’ passions and potential: Richard Kulavik said: “working with Real Startup is a great experience, the insights from these entrepreneurs is inspiring as they put together business plans and products for our future.” “We want to expose the next generation of entrepreneurs in our industry to innovative companies, their products, and people,” say Real Startup’s directors Jay LeBoeuf & Priyanka Shekar, “so that they can gain the connections and resources to grow their businesses in the real world.”

Meet the next wave of music tech innovation

Real Startup is the first-of-its-kind — founded this year by Jay LeBoeuf and Priyanka Shekar, as an initiative of nonprofit Real Industry. The program aims to launch the best and brightest entrepreneurial teams from top university digital media, arts, entertainment and technology programs, commercializing their ideas and expanding their professional networks. Students received mentorship from the program’s network of almost 200 industry mentors.

Participants came from Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Berklee College of Music:

  • String Theory Labs: Delivers immersive 3D audio and multimedia content to live music events, enabling artists to create immersive experiences and allowing music venues to deliver them.
  • MAD Archives: Addresses the “merch stigma” by transforming surplus physical merchandise into classy, sophisticated, and chic lifestyle collections, allowing artists to promote their brand as a lifestyle, increase profits, and gain exposure to new markets of fans.
  • SterIO: Uses psychoacoustics and signal processing technology to automatically attenuate sound levels in audio playback systems to lower and safer levels without any noticeable change from the user’s perspective, reducing long-term hearing damage.
  • Between the Dimensions: Audio-visual production house creating interactive and experiential art installations that translate new scientific insight into artistic expressions that are intriguing and immersive.

A tough three weeks in the program culminated in teams gaining support from a group of industry executives and connectors in a private showcase event, by which point the teams had met with a diverse range of over 70 customers and mentors. They are now poised with focused business plans, skills, and networks to be able to successfully grow on their own. Follow their startup journeys and learn more about the program at:

Photos (full high res gallery available with captions)