Urban Vinyl won first place in the Zuventurez competition on Nov. 15, earning the $15,000 cash prize. The contest judge and Urban Vinyl both predicted that the APU startup will blow up in coming years.
When Seth Fontaine, a former APU student and founder of Urban Vinyl, met Christian Sanchez on campus, it didn’t take long before they combined their experiences as entrepreneurs to start working on what would eventually become Urban Vinyl.
The company makes high-quality headphones designed to produce the best sound. In addition to being stylish, comfortable and functional, Urban Vinyl’s products are created from the same kind of wood that many instruments are made of.
In 2015, the founders of this APU startup knew that they were on to something when they made it to the final round of pitches in their first experience with Zuventurez, although they placed outside of the top three contestants.
“This year when we did Zuventurez, it was different because we actually had a year’s worth of traction,” Fontaine said. “We also knew what to expect from ZuVenturez, so we were prepared with actual numbers and figures to back us up, versus last year when we just had to guess on everything.”
With Fontaine and Sanchez, Chase Molenaar—a freshman physics major in the honors college—became an additional asset to their company. After a previous encounter with Urban Vinyl and his interest in Zuventurez, Molenaar approached Fontaine at the beginning of this year’s competition. Fontaine took notice of the freshman’s passion, entrepreneurship and creative ideas.
“At that point, Seth took me on as part of his team,” Molenaar said. “From then on, I began to develop some skills and have some of my own abilities come to fruition. I am so happy to be part of this company.”
Since Urban Vinyl had previous experience with Zuventurez, basic knowledge of ongoing business operations and experience in the market, it elevated them in the competition. Paolo Narciso, a successful entrepreneur and one of the Zuventurez’s judges, took notice of this.
“There were several factors in our decision,” Narciso said, “The bottom line is that they understood their market, had enough history with that market with revenue and knew how to scale.”
Narciso explained that although presenting the right numbers and showing experience in the market is important, it takes more than that to be successful in entrepreneurship.
“I love their passion for their product and for their industry,” Narciso said. “You can see that in their design and how they’ve engineered their product. I also like their focus. They know what they do well, and I saw the drive for them to be the best at that.”
With a Zuventurez title under their belt, the Urban Vinyl team is looking to elevate their growth and success.
“Now that we won Zuventurez, we have gotten a lot of attention and momentum. We want to keep this momentum by landing our deals with Stack Commerce, Costco and Coachella,” Fontaine said. “With the $15K, we are using it either for online advertisements, celebrity endorsements or for more product.”
As the end of the year approaches, Urban Vinyl looks ahead and remains focused for 2017.
“Next year, if we land these deals, we will just continue to grow. You can expect Bluetooth headphones and earbuds to be released sometime in 2017,” Fontaine said. “In five years, Urban Vinyl will be a multi-million dollar company with all kinds of audio equipment such as speakers (both portable and systems) and vinyl record turntables. We also hope to host our own festival, kind of like Coachella, but with the artists that we work with.”
With this upward trend, Narciso can see the expansion of the company and its bright future.
“They could become the next Beats,” Narciso said. “They could be the next Nixon watches of the music industry.”