Have you ever wanted a surround sound system for your home? The cost of doing this with a Bose system or any other provider can be prohibitive, but what if it was possible to do it just with Bluetooth speakers and a single app? Tempow is a startup that wants to create a new audio experience accessible to anyone, not just those that can afford to pay thousands of dollars.
Based in France, this team of 7 set out to find a way to create a premium audio experience that was inexpensive, portable, and enjoyable. The company wanted to buck the idea that you needed to purchase a Sonos or other big-ticket sound system to make this happen. Young people, we’re told, are fond of using Bluetooth speakers, so that’s where Tempow started.
If you’re going out with friends for the weekend, be it camping, a road trip, or any social gathering, and there’s more than one Bluetooth speaker, right now you could play Spotify through only one of them. But using Tempow’s technology, you can stream the music easily through 2, 3, 5, 10, or however many speakers simultaneously, allowing you to control the direction, volume, and more through a single application.
To make this happen, the company had to upgrade the Bluetooth protocol, applying a new layer on top of the existing system with its patented technology. “It’s not something many companies could easily replicate,” said Tempow founder and CEO Vincent Nallatamby. He added that not many others are researching the potential of Bluetooth.
“What I want to do is [something where] you can take your old [Bluetooth] speakers, Jambox, etc., and use all of these devices that were no longer useful anymore, and can use them to have a better sound experience than if you buy new Bose speakers,” he said.
Chances are that in your home, you may have one or two speakers lying about; they could be old-school speakers or new tech-inspired Marshall Stanmores. Tempow seeks to reinvigorate these devices so they have a purpose again. You’ll now be able to create your own surround sound system anywhere you go, just as long as you have a Bluetooth-enabled device that’s fully charged.
But here’s the catch: The company isn’t developing a consumer app, at least not right now. Nallatamby shared that he’s in discussions with manufacturers in the U.S. and Asia. When pressed, he declined to cite specifics except to say “all the people you can imagine.” So it wouldn’t be farfetched to think that the company might be going after Samsung, Google, Sony, and others to integrate directly into mobile devices.
How the system will work is that you pair your smartphone with the Bluetooth speakers one at a time — there’s no limit on how many you can connect right now. Once done, open up Spotify, YouTube, or any other music service and hit play. You can use the Tempow app to adjust the volume of speakers individually, control which speaker is on the right, left, center, and more, and then the app will just run quietly in the background. The objective is not to have you focus on the Tempow app — the time spent on it should be minimal, we’re told.
White-labeling its technology into OEM manufacturers could create a interesting deal for Tempow, seeing that these large-scale companies have a massive ecosystem. Take Samsung, for example. The company could incorporate the Bluetooth protocol into the popular Galaxy S7 phones and maybe tie it in with its smart TVs, IconX wireless earbuds, and even its own set of wireless speakers, including the Radiant360. The one company that right now seems out of reach to Tempow is Apple because it restricts access to a necessary API.
Nallatamby admitted that his company isn’t interested in exclusively going after speakers. While it is audio-focused, in the future it may target other opportunities, including microphones, voice, and other use cases of the classic Bluetooth protocol.
No deals have been signed right now, but the company hopes to have at least one signed by February’s Mobile World Congress event. “We really want a partner that understands technology, use cases, and is ready to market the technology,” Nallatamby said. But he cautioned, “We won’t take 10 deals if the partners won’t work. But we’ll choose 1, 2, or 5 partners to create new use cases in the market.”
“Only this year is when Bluetooth has become massive,” he remarked. “Only this year have there been more Bluetooth audio devices than non-Bluetooth. … Users don’t care about the protocol. What they want is to be able to carry their speaker around, pair it, not have it be expensive, operational both inside and outside. They don’t care if it’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.”
Tempow was started in France, but has now extended its operation to San Francisco. It is a part of the first batch of startups from The Refiners, a program created by Le Web cofounder Geraldine Le Meur and others to support European entrepreneurs in the U.S. Nallatamby shared that his company has raised an undisclosed angel round from French investors.