Listening to music on the go is, for many, the best way to spend time getting from A to B. Heavy use of headphones comes with the risk of breaking them – and we all know they can be quite the investment. Dorus Galama and Tom Leenders, founders of Gerrard Street, know this too. They’ve developed high-end, leasable headphones that are completely modular in design, which makes it possible to repair parts individually and to recycle easily. And more importantly: they come with a subscription plan, so forget about saving up!
FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
Dorus Galama and Tom Leenders are both music lovers: a good playlist and a set of headphones are the two things they will never forget when they leave the house. Yet, like any other heavily used product they tend to break often. “I break headphones two to three times a year,” says Dorus, adding that throwing away the entire set is “a huge waste”.
So he and Tom set out to find a solution. Looking more closely into sustainability and the circular economy, the two friends realized that nobody was focusing on circular consumer electronics at the time. It was an opportunity: they took it in their hands to develop leasable high-end, leasable headphones, whose modular design allows for the easy recycling and reusing of parts.
“To find out more about the market we interviewed a lot of sustainable startups. What we learned is that sustainability doesn’t sell,” Dorus remembers. “Yes, you can scale in the green niche, but you hit the ceiling rather quickly… That’s when we knew we wanted to target a mainstream audience.”
With an initial capital boost of 10K euros from the first stage of Climate-KIC’s accelerator, Dorus and Tom were able to test the potential of their idea on the market. The interest was there: customers were willing to pay a subscription fee for quality headphones. Next thing they knew, the two were going full steam ahead towards developing their very own product.
Dorus and Tom reached an early milestone with their admission into Climate-KIC Stage I, after which they proceeded to the next two stages of this accelerator. Moreover, they ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and are planning a new one to help fund their latest models. And if that weren’t enough, they secured a pre-seed loan from YES!Delft and were accepted into its Incubation Program.
“[The program] has been very helpful for us,” says Dorus. “YES!Delft has a huge network, so whenever we have a question, there’s always a person to talk to. […] We also got a really good coach during the Incubation Program, and she is, to date, our most committed mentor.”
Currently, the startup has around 1,600 clients and is already making revenues.
TO A GROWING COMPANY
After YES!Delft, one of the scaling up hurdles was to find reliable production partnerships. When they partnered with Fresh ‘n Rebel in October 2018, their production went smoothly thanks to the experience in R&D and the supply chain of their partner. This made a huge improvement in the quality and performance of their leasable headphones.
With a core team of three, Gerrard Street is now looking towards a busy future. After successfully completing a second crowdfunding campaign, the startup launched a new line with a strong marketing campaign.
The team is busy expanding the business in the UK now and they will launch an ANC (active noise canceling) model by the end of the year. Right now this is the focus of the team, which proves to be both a challenge and their biggest success so far. “We copied our marketing strategy from The Netherlands to the UK and we already see the first client subscribing,” Tom Leenders said.
On the list for the coming year is also building more partnerships and going for a Series A funding round of around 500k. For team Gerrard Street there’s no challenge they’re not willing to tackle.
Summer 2014 – Admission into Climate-KIC Stage I
January 2015 – Company founded
July 2015 – Prototype ready
September 2015 – Admission into YES!Delft Incubation Program
November 2015 – Launch of crowdfunding campaign; first customers
June 2016 – First products delivered
October 2018 – Start partnership with Fresh ’n Rebel
February 2019 – Launch of new models The Boss and the DAY
Mid-2019 – First 1,000 customers
August 2019 – Launch in the UK