InterviewsMediaTechStar of the Week

When I first met Ryan Edwards at legendary studio Abbey Road’s Red incubator, he had grand plans for his music tech startup.

However within days COVID-19 would leave those plans in tatters.

“I had successfully closed my £1.2 million seed round in late 2019 and I started to get approached by artists who wanted to invest and be part of the journey,” he tells TechBlast of Audoo, which recognises the music played within commercial premises and ensures the artists are paid the royalties they are due.

“I extended the round by £250,000 via Seedrs as it gave everyone the opportunity to start with investments at just £10. We achieved the target with 10 days to go – and decided to leave it running until the last day of the campaign as I didn’t want people to feel they couldn’t invest.”

Edwards says that “something weird then started to happen”: money began to drop out and suddenly left Audoo below its target.

“This was consistent with all live campaigns on Seedrs at the time because the news from Wuhan was starting to ripple,” he says of the pandemic which arrived from China. “We were due to close four days after the first UK lockdown began – so with the knowledge we were already fully funded, sadly we had to pull the campaign.”

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Back then he had a team of three and by the time the pandemic was over, he had 20 staff. However it took perseverance to launch a physical product and build that team out while working from home.

“We were planning to launch our first pilot in April 2020 with version 1 of the Audio Meter™, which could not have been worse timing,” he recounts. “The restrictions in place caused major delays for us which lasted for over 12 months, including attempts to reschedule the launch later in 2020 that were put on hold again due to more restrictions.  

“We finally launched our first pilot in Australia a year later in April 2021 as they were ahead of the pandemic curve. It still remains one of my proudest movements. We deployed hardware and software on the opposite side of the world when we couldn’t leave our homes. 

“It shows what a team can achieve with pure grit and determination.”

A former drummer in The Lines, the idea for Audoo was born when Edwards was shopping in a department store in 2018 and heard the band’s song Domino Effect playing over the speakers.

Still headquartered in London, last year Audoo – recently crowned No.1 on our sister publication BusinessCloud’s MediaTech 50 ranking – opened its second UK office in Wakefield at Tileyard North. Its Audio Meter™ is now live in more than 15 countries across four continents.

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Key to its growth has been the support of investors – including Sir Elton John, MPL Ventures and ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus – with more than $25 million raised to date.

They say that a startup’s most precious commodity is time – and Edwards takes this to a whole new level in his personal life. 

I’m obsessed with watches!” he tells me. “I think it’s because I work with digital technology, so there is something about physical craftsmanship & mechanical engineering that makes them work.

“One of my very favourite things to do each day is choose which watch I want to wear – I have an ever-growing collection – and set it… from the simple ones that require just the time, to adding complications like date, time, month and moonphase.

Meet former rock star making sweet music with Audoo

“My New Year’s resolution in 2023 was to get a little more ‘me time’ and I took two short trips by myself to Switzerland to see watch-making first-hand – the coolest was at H Moser & Cie; I got to experience the whole process from the the stretching of metal creating the hair spring, to seeing the watchmakers assemble parts you could barely see with the naked eye.

“My dream is to create a piece unique for myself with H Moser & Cie, Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe… or maybe one at all three if things go really well at Audoo!”

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