Alumni stories: lessons from Uploud Audio

Lassi Laitinen, Creative Director & CEO of Uploud Audio, gave a lecture about building trust and friendship when launching and promoting a new product.

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Speakerwear collection 15/16 Winter Garden, image from www.uploudaudio.com.

Uploud audio is a start-up company producing minimalist speakers which combine cozy Nordic aesthetics with functionalist design and hi-fi grade sound. The company was founded by Lassi and his friend, Tuukka Kingelin who graduated from Industrial and Product Design (former name of CoID) in 2014. They met during ME310 course at Aalto University and now manufacture their famous UA1 loudspeakers at Boutique Factory in the heart of Design District Helsinki.

After ME310 experience, Lassi & Tuukka developed the concept of awesome sounding speakers that suit any interior further at the Summer of Startups accelerator programme and won the Aalto’s Fashion Business competition competition in 2012.

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Lassi’s talk at Design & Culture course

Lessons shared by Lassi

Shifting the focus from engineering side of audio speakers to design fashion: Uploud Audio speakers are sold in interior design stores like Artek in Helsinki rather than in professional hi-fi shops, and the co-founders have participated in several furniture design exhibitions to promote them. Uploud Audio speakers are also sold at www.uploudaudio.com and at Uploud Audio Boutique Factory in Helsinki’s Design District.

Targeting a market of upper-middle class citizens rather than creating luxury products allowed to engage larger and younger audiences.

However, designing a great product and finding the right audience for it is not enough: the designers need to get out there and talk to people. Instead on focusing only on selling, Lassi & Tuukka took the speakers to partner events like Minna Parikka parties, and borrowed them to fashion and design brands, establishing good connections with 15-20 ‘cool’ customers (e.g. Pelago bicycles and Bones). Their recent collaboration with the Finnish queen of crochet Molla Mills  was yet another step towards fashion industry and interior design.

“It’s not about trying to get into position of being able to use people but rather getting friends that do interesting things. Then you’re making interesting things possible. You might end up collaborating with some of them down the road. Just don’t push it. I’d say you have to be truly interested in getting to know them. I’d say you gotta be strategic in your networking but think about it and do it as you were looking for new friends”.

Lassi Laitinen

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