Robin Dibble – Product Support Engineer
It’s clear that launching a new brand from scratch would present many challenges. Could you identify what you see as having been the greatest challenges in your area, and perhaps talk a little about if/how the pandemic further impacted those… With the benefit of hindsight would you have done anything differently or are you satisfied that you took all the right steps?
My role within OA is to provide insight from the viewpoint of a practitioner as products develop, and support our customers in the products’ use once brought to market.
From a product point of view, the largest challenges have been without doubt supply chain challenges, where even making samples and prototypes has involved much longer lead times than normal.
There is nothing specifically that I would have changed in the products or their development cycle, but bringing the products to market has inevitably been delayed because of these factors. There wasn’t an alternative, unfortunately, but I’m proud to have been a part of the team that has got us to this point.
You must have identified some targets and projected milestones that you wished to reach as the business developed. Have these been largely met/exceeded? Are you where you want/planned to be, one year on?
Broadly, I think we have achieved a great deal in difficult circumstances. The heart of the range, the “Zone” products, are a huge achievement and a product I had hoped for many years would materialise in my previous life as an installer. They are exactly as they should be, no more, no less. The next stages of the product road map are also exciting – it’s going to be a great few years as we roll out more uniquely focused products within the brand goals of quality and simplification.
Speaking to the individual team members at the beginning of this journey, it was clear that the chance to work on the creation of a brand new business from scratch was a very rare and exciting opportunity. Looking back at the last year, has the development of Optimal Audio fulfilled your personal expectations?
It has – and we’ve only just begun. The opportunity to use my experience in the marketplace and, with others, bring that knowledge to the team and see it integrated within the products, is very rewarding. It isn’t often that such opportunities come along, at the very start of a brand with a clean slate and clearly defined goals.
Can you tell us about the response you have received from the marketplace to the Optimal Audio offer? How well has the Optimal Audio message connected with potential customers in the comparatively short lifespan of the company? Could you talk a little about the success of the open days…
It has all been very positive, with great interaction with our worldwide distributors. They have given us considered feedback on our portfolio as well as ideas for the future which helped shape our roadmap. A great brand is never all about one person’s view of what makes for a strong portfolio and so we like to gain a cross section of insight to help cement our direction.
Open days have been great – it’s an opportunity for face to face contact that results in shared knowledge and experience, and to let people get hands on (or ears on!) with the product. Reaction to the sound quality of the products is particularly good to hear, especially as that was a key goal for the brand – not just ease of use, but quality too.
Where do you want/expect to be one year from now?
Sunning myself somewhere fabulous would be nice!
As the brand continues to grow, and more products come to fruition, my hope is that we make a significant sea change to how commercial audio is perceived – it should be as natural and as simple as picking a playlist in the car. If we can make life easier and less complicated for our customers and end-users whilst delivering great sound quality, we will be doing what we set out to achieve.