By Nancy Dahlberg The Miami Herald
For this Miami entrepreneur and his first product, the beat is on.
David Packouz' crowdfunding campaign for BeatBuddy, the first guitar pedal drum machine, became a smash hit on the fund-raising charts, surpassing his $75,000 funding goal in just 24 hours.
By Friday afternoon, after just four days, the BeatBuddy campaign on the Indiegogo platform had attracted about $110,000 from more than 620 funders and there are still 46 days to go. But this seemingly overnight success is really a story about knowing and pleasing your customers.
Packouz, a musician, got the idea for BeatBuddy when he was doing his own jam session and wishing for a product that would provide hands-free creative control of a beat through his amp. Research revealed no other products that accomplished exactly what he wanted. Packouz, who was a mechanical engineering student at Miami Dade College for several years, was smart enough to patent his system, which gives a musician pedal control over a variety of drum beats and sounds. With his prototype and plans, he hired a team in Montreal to engineer the product.
Packouz, 31, has launched and run other businesses including electronics importing, government contracting and smartphone app development. But this is the first company to match his passion for music and invention, the singer, songwriter and guitar player said.
Nine months ago, a stranger found his prototype demo video online and posted it on a guitar forum. "And then it exploded on the forums," he said. Packouz was flooded with supportive forum comments, emails and Facebook posts from all over the world, but he wasn't ready to go into production. He kept a list and began conversing with his new-found fans, asking what they wanted in the product and how could he make it better. "I took care of them, I listened, I responded," he said.
Although it added months to his timeline, "I completely redesigned the product on their recommendations," said Packouz, "and it is so much stronger."
Packouz said he put his life savings into the company. His team includes his brother, Eli, a chemical engineering student at Miami Dade College, his engineering group of eight in Montreal, and Goran Rista, founder of GoranGrooves online recording service in Miami, who is in charge of creating the drum sounds and beats.
To make sure this week's Indiegogo campaign launch was a success, Packouz boosted his post on Facebook and sent out an email blast about a week ahead of time with this message: Only 500 will be made available at about half of the $349 he expects to retail BeatBuddy for. "I structured the campaign for early support," he said. It worked -- far better than he expected. But that doesn't surprise one of Packouz's former professors.
"Every now and then you get a student who you just know is going to accomplish something special and David was such a student. He's an entrepreneur to his core, and his perseverance is second to none," said James Poe, an associate professor of engineering at Miami Dade College.
"The BeatBuddy is off to an amazing start, and I'm certain it will be just one of many successes in David's future."