Specdrums: The Colorado Boulder Startup Reinventing the Method of Creative Education
In our current society, we are becoming obsessed with two very different trends: wearable tech and innovative learning. Wearable tech, such as smartwatches and Bluetooth headphones, has become increasingly popular as it continues to expand and improve. The implementation of this relatively new technology could benefit a variety of industries, but one company aims to utilize this technology to optimize both the process of education and the learning environment itself.
Specdrums, a startup company out of the University of Colorado Boulder, has created an app-connected, wearable ring that converts colors to sounds. The device is able to read colors and translate them into sounds, making the world around you an abundance of musical opportunity. This device has potential uses in music production but is primarily geared toward the field of education. Creativity is an undervalued component of the educational process and is often replaced with a more informational curriculum because of the difficulties with teaching this unique quality. Implementing Specdrums into the educational community could promote creativity and increase student participation.
“ I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds. But what we’ve created is more than just a drumming tool – it’s a new instrument that makes musical creation in general more accessible, welcoming, and fun.” – Stephen Dourmashkin, Founder of Specdrums
Specdrums was founded by Steven Dourmashkin in 2015 while completing his undergraduate studies at Cornell University. Dourmashkin was a lifelong drummer, and he wanted to develop a manner in which he could continue drumming in the space of his dorm. He initially set out to create a product that could be used for people in situations similar to his, but later realized the true potential and versatility of his product. He then went to the University of Colorado Boulder to get his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, while still pursuing his business. Dourmashkin, along with the rest of the Specdrums team, took advantage of the opportunities the university provided, collaborating with Colorado Boulder’s Idea Forge. The Idea Forge is a collaborative facility for startups at Colorado Boulder, focusing on the design and innovation of the businesses and their products. Specdrums also entered into the Catalyze CU program, a summer accelerator program that provides mentorship opportunities and equity free grants to the university’s best startups. This transitioned Specdrums from a quality idea to a well-rounded business with an innovative product.
“Growing up as a drummer, I would tap on everything whenever I was away from the drum set… I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds.” – Steven Dourmashkin, Founder of Specdrums
Once they were established as a startup, Specdrums launched a campaign on Kickstarter. They began with a $15,000 goal, just enough to begin production and get their product out. The campaign was insanely successful, ending with almost 2,000 backers and $188,000 raised. Specdrums continued to grow, winning Redbull’s LaunchPad competition in 2017. Realizing the inevitable success of the product, Sphero, a robotics company changing gears towards education, approached Specdrums with interest in the product and its capabilities. Sphero bought out Specdrums in 2017 and is working on implementing it into the educational setting.
This Untold College Spotlight shows how business can develop from passion. Steven Dourmashkin had a passion for drumming and noticed a need for innovation. He took a problem that he struggled with in his life, solved it, and then expanded his solution into a business. Once his product gained traction, he started realizing the variety of potentials that it had.
Passion is a familiar concept. If you are passionate about something and you notice a potential solution, innovate! Everybody notices the difficulty and lack of efficiency in certain activities but consistently waits for someone else to fix it. If you create a solution to continue in your passion, chances are others are waiting for someone like you to help them out. You can utilize your personal innovation in business to benefit others with the same problem!