Scooter Vaughan had always heard about the Michigan alumni base, tight-knit despite its status as one of the world’s largest networks, but it wasn’t until this fall that he was able to see it mobilized.
That’s when Vaughan, a 2011 University graduate and former forward on the hockey team, launched a fundraising campaign for the product he is marketing along with longtime friend Austin Glenn.
Last spring, Glenn approached Vaughan, forever the music lover, about an idea he had for a new option in the headphone market. Unimpressed with the designs currently available to shoppers, the pair set out to design something convenient and fashionable, and they created the prototype for Jamboo Headphones.
“They all look the same,” Vaughan said of the current options. “It’s either a white cord or a black cord.”
Jamboo, on the other hand, is crafted, as its name would suggest, out of bamboo wood. According to Vaughan, one of the headphones’ defining features is that they are woven to be tangle-free, alleviating one of the most common complaints among headphone wearers. The headphones are also woven with one of six different brightly colored styles.
“People love them,” Vaughan said. “They sound great. There are three different-sized earplugs. They last, too. They don’t fray or come apart. I’ve had my pair for six or seven months now. I use it every day.”
This summer, Vaughan shared the prototypes with friends like current Michigan defenseman Mac Bennett.
“It’s kind of like a hipster thing — something you’d see in Urban Outfitters,” Bennett said. “It’s definitely Scooter. It says Scooter all over it.”
Vaughan and Bennett remain close after the former hooked the latter on producing music.
Glenn and Vaughan set a fundraising goal of $12,000 over the course of a month. Using the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, the duo raised $1,000 in each of the first four hours after they began the campaign. Vaughan and Glenn, who grew up together in Placentia, Calif., easily surpassed their goal — in five days.
“With Kickstarter, we don’t have to give up any equity in our company,” said Vaughan, who is living in Atlanta waiting out the NHL lockout. “We can basically sell the product without the product being made … We did our Kickstarter and it just exploded.”
Vaughan and Glenn went back to the drawing board, impressed with the support their innovative product garnered, and set a new goal of $20,000. Vaughan sent countless e-mails and took to social media sites to pitch Jamboo. As of Monday, they had raised more than $14,800. Any additional funds raised will go to product enhancements.
“It’s unbelievable — the Michigan network,” Vaughan said. “All the ex- and current hockey players have been tweeting the link and putting in on their Facebooks. That’s just really special to see everybody come together.”
Visitors to the Kickstarter chart see a graphic with different levels of financing, all of which come with a different reward as a thank you — from a shout-out on Twitter to a package that includes the ability to help design the next style Jamboo releases.
Besides the prototypes, no headphones have been produced yet. Vaughan is planning a February launch.
“I believed in the project,” Vaughan said. “I realized that as a business I wanted to get involved in — this would be a good one.”