Meet Carl Thomas, founder of AudioWings and #Pitch2Rich semi-finalist. He’s competing for the opportunity to pitch his business idea to Richard Branson and win £5,000 investment to grow AudioWings, you can vote for him to win, here. In this blog, Carl explains what difference £5,000 would make to AudioWings. This is the average amount entrepreneurs ask for when they come to Virgin StartUp for funding.

When we got the news that Audiowings were into the last 10 of the #Pitch2Rich competition, selected from hundreds, the team were ecstatic. Having the opportunity to present our vision to a great British success story in Sir Richard Branson has got us all extremely excited and nervous at the same time! It’s definitely a far cry since our humble beginnings…

Audiowings started as an answer to a very simple problem that our founder Carl was experiencing. During his gym monkey days, Carl would use his carefully curated playlists on Spotify as inspiration to increase his performance in the gym. During one intense workout, whilst using a pair of cheap wired headphones and bench pressing, his headphones got tangled on the bar, resulting in Carl almost dropping the bar on himself... which was not a good look!

This prompted Carl to invest in a decent pair of bluetooth headphones that would help his performance, as opposed to hinder it. After spending over £100 on a well reviewed pair, Carl was happier. Working out without the threat of being trapped in wires was liberating. So liberating in fact, that whilst making his best Arnie poses in front of the mirror, someone stole his smartphone without him noticing.

This inevitably left him lost. No music to work out resulted in his performance dropping rapidly. However with every cloud there is a sliver lining. And the silver lining came in the shape of a eureka moment. Carl realised that the only reason he brought his smartphone into the gym was to listen to his playlists on Spotify. What if he could have a premium pair of headphones that had Spotify embedded into them?

This led Carl on a search high and low for such a pair. The search was unsuccessful. So after asking a number of his friends, as well as other athletes and gym-goers whether they’d like such a device, he decided to investigate making one.

This story gave rise to Audiowings, and since then both Carl and Audiowings have been on an incredible journey, revolutionising the headphone industry with a premium pair of Smart headphones.

In the last 18 months since Audiowings was officially incorporated, there has been a large amount of progress with very little funds. Patents have been filed. Prototypes have been developed. Initial agreements have been made with content partners, award winning musicians and development partners. With all this activity, the vision for Audiowings has grown, becoming more powerful. Imagine seeing an advert for your favourite musician’s latest album on a bus shelter, and being able to listen to a sample of that advert in real time with your headphones.

This powerful message needs to be heard and if Audiowings were successful in winning the incredible #Pitch2Rich competition, the investment would be split between devising a marketing campaign, and further development.

Regarding marketing, with such a unique concept, there needs to be a proactive campaign to help demonstrate the compelling uses available. Therefore a portion of the investment would be used to produce a conceptual video. Audiowings have already engaged with a number of videographers, who have produced great promotional videos for other brands. This video would be used as the centre piece for our digital strategy, helping to seed the concept with interested parties.

With regards to development, Audiowings have secured matched funding for further development of our content distribution platform. With initial agreements in place with some leading audio service providers, this platform will be the ‘brain’ of the headphones, and will be crucial to it’s success. With development already underway, the investment will be used to fast track and finalise this process.

The difference the investment could make would be massive. Like any large market, there are a number of people producing premium headphones. Luckily for us, there is no one developing a product that is similar. This investment could help us retain our competitiveness in a crowded market, as well as helping us get our product into the hands of those who have supported us as quickly as possible.

With wearable technology becoming mainstream, more people using streaming music services and headphones becoming fashion accessories, the time is now for Audiowings to realise their vision. And with Richard Branson’s help, we believe we have an incredible chance of bringing this to life. But we need your help and support. If you believe in our product, please vote for us to pitch to Sir Richard Branson!