Ref: IMD-3-2091

Case study

Reference: IMD-3-2091

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JMC Soundboard: Crossing the sound barrier

By Professor Benoit F. Leleux Benoit F. Leleux and Laure Le Hardy de Beaulieu

December 2009 – Le Brassus, Vallee De Joux, Switzerland. The sound was eerie, moving, almost intoxicating: deep, rich, subtle, mesmerizing… and it appeared to be coming out from a single square piece of wood hanging on the wall. How could that be? You could walk around the room, turn your head in all directions and the sound was always there; there was something almost supernatural about it.

Jeanmichel and Céline could not help but smile at the look on people’s faces when they visited their showroom – they all reacted in the same way. This was a new dimension in sound reproduction. If only they could find a way to market it…

Jeanmichel Capt, a trained guitar luthier, had mastered the art of working with “resonance spruce” from the Risoud Forest in Switzerland. Italian violin masters in the 17th and 18th centuries had first discovered the unique sound properties of resonant wood.

Could Jeanmichel use these same properties and, applying the same centuries-tested wood techniques, bring new dimensions to the world of loudspeakers? This would be heresy for hi-fi specialists, trained in the science of electronics and acoustics.

But to Jeanmichel, the challenge was just too tempting; he was going to create the first loudspeaker system based on traditional luthier techniques and give amplified sound a whole new dimension.

After years of experimenting with various shapes and techniques, Jeanmichel came up with the first generation of the device. It was a harmonious blend of contemporary design and exceptional woodwork in the purest lutherie tradition.

It worked, but more complex challenges lay ahead – how could such a radical new sound device be marketed? Was this a designer piece with a function? A functional device with a stylish design? The concept appealed as much to emotional values as to technical ones. Where would it sell? Who would buy it? How could Jeanmichel turn it into a sustainable business?

Learning Objective

Marketing a breakthrough technology product, segmenting a technology market, managing growth in a lifestyle business, financing growth, angel investors, sustainability.
KeywordsDistribution, Entrepreneurship, Financing, General Management, Growth Management, High Fidelity, Lifestyle Entrepreneurship, Luthier, Marketing, Passion, Segmentation, Sustainability, Technology, Woodcraft
Settings2009
TypeField Research
Copyright©2010
LanguageEnglish
Related materialTeaching notes
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Reference: IMD-3-2091

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