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Filipino-founded audio company finds growth globally amid a pandemic

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

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The coronavirus pandemic has been a nightmare for millions of businesses in every sector; most especially with the audio industry. There has been nothing but losses for huge companies such as Danish brand Bang & Olufsen who saw over one year’s worth of losses every single quarter, and Bose closing over a hundred stores this past 2020. With millions of loyal customers jobless, manufacturing services and shipping costs at ridiculous prices, and cashflow drying up, many wonder how they will survive.

But amid all the unfortunate circumstances, some companies were lucky enough to strategically build their business model canvas to survive an economic crisis.

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

“I was a troubled kid and a nutcase growing up, so I pretty much know what these kids are going through on a day-to-day basis, and why they make the bad choices that they choose,” says founder Marcelle Marcelino, a veteran radio broadcaster and music industry veteran in the Philippines.

“I tried the white labeling route where I would ask get an already made product and stamp my logo on it, but unfortunately being a DJ and studio sound engineer for over two decades, I was never satisfied with the outcome. So I did what most would not do, fly around various cities, meet with manufacturing plants, and source every part that I needed to create a pretty solid product in terms of sound and durability.”

Going on its fourth year this June, H-Audio has already collaborated with major brands and companies such as Coca-Cola, Huawei, Philippine Airlines, and even the likes of Kobe Bryant who needed their own audio components and products manufactured for them.

On the other side of the spectrum, H-Audio currently has their own products in major retail stores such as Urban Gadgets, Power Mac Center, The Listening Room, and many others nationwide, such as the PH3, a Filipino designed active noise cancelling headphone whose majority proceeds (60%) goes towards animal welfare & programs to help the troubled Filipino youth.

They also are not stopping there with growth and expansion as their primary driver, H-Audio has been very busy the past year forming a solid partnership with a US-based company, The Four Pillars Company; a service supplier for multi-family, hospitality, and healthcare buildings. Some of their biggest current projects together this 2021 is innovating student housing projects and hotels with their customized audio mirrors, multimedia tables, and other products specifically made for their current on-going projects in Florida, Utah, and Alabama.

“The Four Pillars Company is proud to partner with H- Audio. The most valuable part of our partnership with H-Audio is their vision of infusing technology and audiophile-quality sound into everyday products. H-Audio has an eye for detail and design that creates excellent user interfaces for our clients.  Lastly, their vision to produce products that aren’t available from other manufacturers keeps us several steps ahead of our competition,” says J. Ryan Barrett, President and CEO of The Four Pillars Company.

Taking more giant leaps, H-Audio has also been in negotiations with a certain Brazilian company to open H-Audio Brazil by the end of 2021, along with its current trajectory to expand operations in Australia; all for the goal of having more people worldwide experience high quality audio products at a very fair price.

Definitely something a lot of us who have to stick to budgeting our expenses during what seems to be a never ending pandemic, really need.

For more information on H-Audio Technologies, head to the company’s Facebook page; Instagram account; and YouTube channel.

Tech & Innovation

Social media can be a lifesaver for international new ventures

Newly established international firms and start-ups with limited resources can effectively use social media to learn about their new foreign markets and customers in a fast and inexpensive way.

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The use of social media can be beneficial to international new ventures and help them to survive. This is according to a study – Early Internationalization in the Digital Context: A Capabilities-based Approachfrom the University of Vaasa, Finland, which also showed that newly established international firms and start-ups with limited resources can effectively use social media to learn about their new foreign markets and customers in a fast and inexpensive way.

For any international new venture, acquiring enough foreign market knowledge can be a matter of life and death. According to Emmanuel Kusi Appiah’s doctoral dissertation, an international new venture can use social media, and then employ ambidextrous learning in its knowledge development process. Ambidextrous learning means using two diverse ways of learning: exploratory learning and exploitative learning.

Exploratory learning helps the company to discover new threats and opportunities in its environment. Exploitative learning, on the other hand, utilises the current market information the firm already has.

“A company can use social media for exploitative learning, but also for exploratory learning to survive in foreign markets. The company can also switch between these two approaches,  according to the situation and company strategy. The use of social media has a positive impact on ambidextrous learning,” says Emmanuel Kusi Appiah.

Firms can benefit from social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook in their networking efforts. In addition, social media tools such as Buzzsumo, Tagboard and AgoraPulse can provide the necessary knowledge about customers, competitors, and existing and new markets, thereby reducing the difficulties a new firm would otherwise face in foreign markets. Acquiring knowledge is usually more difficult when a firm is new, especially if it is new and foreign.

Ambidextrous learning can help firms to combine new external knowledge with existing knowledge and prevent inefficiency and short-sightedness. It can also help firms to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

Emmanuel Kusi Appiah reminds us that applying ambidextrous learning is not straightforward. Entrepreneurs and companies that are planning to move into a new market internationally need to understand the drivers and mechanisms that support ambidexterity. The dissertation provides valuable information regarding this aspect.

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Tech & Innovation

Eastern Communications announces holiday deals

Bounce back and spur productivity with Eastern Communications’ special limited-time offers, featuring its reliable Fiber1 and Internet Direct Service (IDS) connectivity solutions paired with exclusive promos and freebies for new subscribers.

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The holiday season is right around the corner and it is the busiest time for many enterprises, catching up with the demand of customers. While there have been ups and downs that helped strengthen various sectors, businesses have gradually returned to normalcy in their day-to-day operations.

With the steady demand for connectivity and ICT solutions in the new normal, premier telecommunications company Eastern Communications treats SMEs with its latest holiday deals to help them further emerge in the most anticipated season of the year.

Bounce back and spur productivity with Eastern Communications’ special limited-time offers, featuring its reliable Fiber1 and Internet Direct Service (IDS) connectivity solutions paired with exclusive promos and freebies for new subscribers.

Business Boosters

Recommended for retail and e-commerce start-ups and SMEs, Eastern Communications offers Business Boosters to new subscribers of the Eastern Fiber1 or IDS Select plan until December 31, 2022. Aside from the high-speed internet service, businesses are eligible for up to Php3,000 worth of Lazada Gift Cards. With these gift vouchers, you can now check out the business devices on your wish lists!

Festive Freebies

They say great things come in threes! For businesses in Metro Manila, new Eastern Fiber1 subscribers can choose this promo to receive exclusive freebies such as three months of free monthly service fee, a Microsoft Surface Laptop, and a Sophos Intercept X Endpoint Security License.

This promo is recommended for emerging companies that have plans for expansion. With integrated ZTNA and a world-class next-generation endpoint product, the free Sophos Intercept X Endpoint Security Solution is perfect for remote working setups. Don’t miss out on this exclusive holiday promo until December 31, 2022 only.

Empowering business to emerge from the pandemic, Eastern Communications has been reaching out to support SMEs throughout the year with its expansion efforts, promotions, and award-winning E-Huddle webinars, and aims to continue doing so in 2023.

For more information about Eastern Communications’ products and services as well as promos, visit www.eastern.com.ph/ or call 5300-7000 (Metro Manila) or 0919-081-7788 & 0917-300-7788 (Regional).

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Tech & Innovation

Food advertisements on Twitch can lead to cravings, purchases

Fifteen percent of study participants reported experiencing cravings of products they saw advertised on Twitch, and 8% reported buying the advertised products.

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Food advertisements on social media are pervasive, but research has not yet comprehensively documented the effects of these ads on adolescents and young adults. A new study by researchers at Penn State and Dartmouth College found that advertisements on the social media platform Twitch can lead to cravings for and purchasing of nutrient-poor foods like candy and energy drinks among some adolescents and young adults.

Twitch is a streaming platform that allows viewers to have conversations while sharing a common video feed. It offers channels across a broad range of topics including travel, sports, food, art and music. But videogame play is the original — and by far most common — use of the platform.

The use of Twitch is growing rapidly, with over six billion hours of content viewed on the platform during the first three months of 2021. This represented a 97% increase over the same period in 2020.

“People can be baffled by Twitch, but anyone old enough to have played home videogames as a teenager likely had a similar experience,” said Travis Masterson, assistant professor of nutrition, Broadhurst Career Development Professor for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and co-author of the research. “You would go over to a friend’s house after school, or on Saturday morning, and if they were trying to get through a particularly tough part of a videogame, you might sit and watch them play. The videogame was an excuse for a conversation. This was certainly true for me. Twitch offers the same opportunity to hang out in a community with your friends, but now it is all online.

“Endorsement deals on Twitch can be worth many millions of dollars, and younger people — who are always attractive to advertisers — are moving their eyeballs away from television into these more interactive forms of entertainment, often to Twitch specifically,” added Masterson.

The researchers noted that, as the popularity of Twitch increased, advertising for nutrient-poor foods like candy and energy drinks became more common on the platform. The research team, which included Jennifer Emond, associate professor of biomedical data science and pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and Catherine Pollack, Emond’s former graduate student, wanted to understand how advertising on Twitch affected the cravings and purchasing habits of viewers.

The team recruited 568 Twitch users through Reddit. Participants were predominantly male and either non-Hispanic White or Asian. Using three existing instruments for measuring food cravings, the researchers sought to understand whether they could predict which people were more susceptible to food advertising.  

In a publication in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the researchers demonstrated that some Twitch viewers are more likely than others to remember, crave and purchase brands that they see advertised on the streaming platform. The researchers also found that three questions from an instrument called the External Food Cue Responsiveness inventory could help identify members of this “highly susceptible” group. Highly susceptible viewers endorsed the statements, “I want food or drinks that I see others eating,” “I want to eat when people talk about food” and “I notice restaurant signs/logos.” 

Fifteen percent of study participants reported experiencing cravings of products they saw advertised on Twitch, and 8% reported buying the advertised products. Masterson said that the researchers were concerned that people who are highly susceptible to advertising and who spend multiple hours per day on Twitch could be prone to buying foods that undermine their health.

“In academic research, we are playing catch up with food advertisers,” Masterson explained. “Advertising is pervasive for a reason: It works, and companies understand how it works. People tend to understand that children are susceptible to advertising messages, but we often like to think that once we grow up and start making our own decisions, adults are immune to advertising’s power. But advertising didn’t grow to be a $100 billion-plus industry in the United States because it is ineffective. Advertising works on us, and on a subset of us, it is especially effective.”

Masterson added that academic researchers need to understand consumer behavior as well as advertisers, so that society can determine what advertising is or is not safe in different environments.

“This is a single study, and these results cannot be generalized to everyone, but the study still has broad implications,” said Masterson. “This research shows that some people are highly susceptible to advertising and that the External Food Cue Responsiveness inventory can help researchers identify those vulnerable people.

“I am a gamer. I am on Twitch and am part of these communities,” Masterson continued. “It bothers me when I am watching League of Legends, for example, and I see a branded candy ad in the middle of the game. It bothers me because I know that these ads affect people, including me. This work provides researchers with one tool for understanding who is most affected, and in the long run, that could promote greater health for gamers and everyone who is exposed to food advertising.”

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