Bang & Olufsen Chief Intrapreneur Anders Buchmann about the cooperation with HiFiBerry
Since Bang & Olufsen teamed up with HiFiBerry the partnership has been incredibly creative and successful. So time to have a little chat about the cooperation. HiFiBerry Team member Anne talked to Anders Buchmann, Chief Intrapreneur at Bang & Olufsen about the idea behind the cooperation and the next steps coming up.
Anne: Anders, thanks for taking the time, I am really excited to talk with you about the Beocreate project. My impression is that in this day of „disposable equipment“ it’s quite unusual for companies to make their products backwardly-compatible or even take it a step further and give customers the possibility to recycle them. When did you first have the idea of this project?
Anders: You’re aboslutely right. It is unusual – and that’s also an important reason why we felt this project was right! Actually, the idea came out of some fun some of our engineers had playing around with amplification boards creating their own speakers. One made a speaker out of plastic tubes normally used for toilet drains – and he named it “the shit”. Another one, Gert, build this amplification board into one of our old speakers (the BeoVox CX50) because he just loved the old design and wanted to bring it back to life. So that’s basically how it started. From there one we just grabbed that basic idea, applied some design thinking to the development of the concept and off course found a strong partner to make it become real in HiFiBerry.
Anne: It’s well known B&O has always been a forward-thinking company and not surprising to us at HiFiBerry that you have taken this path. Many customers might be curious about how we teamed up. Some people might be thinking, that HiFiBerry was constantly knocking on your door for the past five years but in fact, you found us.
Anders: Well you did knock on our door constantly, didn’t you…? (Anders laughing) No, actually we knew quite early in the development phase that we wanted to realize this project with a partner, so we reached out to our favorites and began a casual dialogue. It was quite important for us to find a partner who had the competencies needed, that shared our commercial ambitions and maybe most importantly shared our passion for the project. Needless to say, HiFiBerry was a pretty good fit for this, and we really enjoyed the dialogue and process we’ve had with your founder Daniel from the very beginning.
Anne: What I really love about the Beocreate 4CA is, that people feel truly appreciated because they spend a lot of money on a speaker 20years ago and they don’t want to throw them away. When we started the development with you, I thought it was a great technical idea and also had an „enviromentally-friendly“ aproach, but I didn’t realize the emotional connection a lot of people have with their speakers that has developed over time from playing music for many years through good times and bad. They’re like cherished „friends“ to some customers.
Anders: Yes indeed! But luckily, I can’t say we’re surprised. We are fortunate enough to have a rather big community with a real deep love for our brand and products. So parring that with ability to upcycle our vintage speakers makes this both pleasing from an environmental perspective but also passion perspective. So cool stories starts popping up everywhere these days of people searching though their old stuff to find those old speakers they love and breathe new live to them. Actually, we hear quite a bit how the younger audience our now buying even more second hand than they used to. Pretty cool!
Anne: Yes, we also heard a few of these stories as well, but you and I, we also run businesses, so are you not worried, people are going to buy less Bang & Olufsen speakers?
Anders: No… Let’s be pragmatic here. We’re around 800 people in B&O today – I guess some of our competitors have software teams of that size. So I don’t believe cannibalization is our biggest challenge.
Anne: So, what are the next steps for this project?
Anders: Well, we are currently focussing on finishing more Guides for customers but we also working on building up a platform where users can share their experiences with the Beocreate 4CA. It’s a complex product with many possibilities and we are really excited to see what people create with it. Some will need a bit of guidance from once, whereas others will surely be able to inspire us with what they do. So we’ll just take it one day at a time.
Anne: And what are the next steps for Bang & Olufsen Beocreate beside the 4CA?
Anders: There’s always cool stuff going on. Right now we’ve got a project going called “BeoCreate Elements”. Check it out on our Instagram – it’s cool stuff!