Anthony Mattana is the founder and CEO of Hooke Audio. Anthony graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Sound Design. Thereafter he worked as a professional sound designer, composer-musician and inventor for 3 years. Cited by Live Design Magazine as “Young Designer to Watch,” Mattana is a professional at telling stories through audio in both large and small-scale productions. Determined to bring the professional audio tools he had access to in the theatre to smartphones, he invented Hooke Verse: the World’s first 3D audio recording headphones. Anthony wants to change the way we capture and relive life’s most amazing moments.
Where did the idea for Hooke Audio come from?
When I was working as a sound designer on Broadway, I witnessed firsthand the very limited knowledge both my audiences and collaborators had of the power that great audio brings to storytelling. I would watch my directors and producers talk intelligibly about color temperature, saturation and brightness with the scenic, costume and lighting designers. But when it came to sound they would just ask for a big wind blow sound to close out the act like every other show. I realized that my directors had dimmers on the chandeliers above their dining room tables, auto focus on their phones and color balance on their social media posts, but very little control over sound on their consumer devices. I realized that if people had a better ability to be creative with sound on their consumer devices, then they would care about it. And thus, Hooke Audio was born! We aim to give you that control over sound without adding an additional piece of gear to your life. Hooke Verse is headphones upgraded, a simple, portable and durable pair of headphones that can record sound in 3D, ultimately changing the way you record the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The biggest obstacle we continue to face is educating the market. Not enough people know what binaural 3D audio is, so I try to prioritize my day around tasks that will better inform the market. This could be anything from a social post of a video we recently captured in 3D audio, or a blog post about the recent trends in 3D audio. Even or a tutorial on how to capture 3D audio for yourself on the device of your choosing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The most important thing I’ve learned from starting my own business is how, why, when and where to ask for help. It’s the
secret to everything. I’ve gotten very good at knowing when to ask for help and when I can’t do something on my own. This has allowed me to assemble a really incredible team. Without them, none of this would be possible. It’s easy to think you can do it on your own. For the most part you can, but that doesn’t mean it will be high quality. Recognizing and utilizing talent from specific team members is what has allowed us to accomplish so much in a relatively short amount of time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The explosive growth of AI voice assistants has Google, Apple, and Amazon racing to put your entire smartphone in an earpiece. We are seeing a ton of tech being put into earbuds outside of just music listening and phone calls. “The future is ear” as I like to say, it’s a very exciting time for new and innovative headphone products.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Deal. In. Fact. As an entrepreneur there are so many things out of your control. Fires pop up out of nowhere and they are often fires you have no experience putting out. So you have a tendency to be reactionary and jump to conclusions as to why the fire began or even how to put it out. You have to take a step back, assess the situation and ask yourself “Okay, what do I know is fact here?” then go from there. Easier said than done when you’re in the heat of the moment, but it’s a habit that always saves me time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient and make sure to celebrate the little wins along the way. When you start, you have a goal in sight. What you don’t realize is that it takes one hundred small goals along the way to hit that big one. It will also take 5 times as long as you thought. Be patient.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If I was in this situation of believing something was true and everyone around me disagreed with, I would not be a very good manager and leader 🙂
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
– Have at least two close friends who are also entrepreneurs in fields completely different from yours. No competition. Everyone is going through the exact same thing, having that perspective is what keeps you alive.
– Get outside and do nothing. It’s very easy to stay indoors, take an hour a day just to walk and not look at a screen.
– Listen to podcasts. I listen to all types of podcasts; sports, news, politics, murder mystery. It’s the ultimate escape and a constant source of inspiration for my own company
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’ve stayed incredibly bootstrapped and not hired on any full time employees. When I started this, I knew I’d be defining a market and that sales would be slow early on. If I had to worry about payroll and a large monthly burn out of the gate, my business would be dead. Many people feel like they need to hire on a full team from the start. Wait until you raise a Series A or are generating significant month over month revenue before doing that. If you are not big enough to raise a Series A, odds are you can do most of the work on your own with the help of a few freelancers. It will save your business and reduce the risk of running out of money.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the past I’ve had a tendency to not properly manage expectations. When I’d miss a deadline or underestimate the time it would take to complete a task, I’d think it was the end. I’ve learned to overcome this by re shifting my expectations and putting together a new plan, quickly. Expectations can be a good thing as they push us to complete work, but we have to remember that they’re just that: expectations. Expect only to get the work done and the rest will come.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Bluetooth microphones that you can clip to your shirt and record wirelessly to your phone. With the rise of instagram stars, youtubers and online creators, more people than ever are capturing content using their phone. The audio however remains terrible. For some one doing an interview or show, clipping on a little wireless mic that connects straight to the phone would be huge.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently started a referral program to all of our Hooke Verse customers. A lot of our customers have been recommending Hooke Verse to their friends which we love. I now offer a $50 amazon to any customer who refers a friend. The friend receives a 10% off coupon and they receive a gift card. Best sales investment I ever made.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Google analytics is by far our most important tool right now. As we work to define and educate the market, the analytics we receive from our site visitors is everything. We are checking our new site visitors, returning visitors, new visitors daily to better understand how people are finding us and how we can make our impressions count.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. Learning how a comic strip works teaches you how a story works. With a comic, you have to be deliberate and exact in every choice you make. Every word and picture is sacred as you don’t have room for much else. It teaches you to be clear and exact in your mission. Without it, it’s a muddled mess.
What is your favorite quote?
“In this world, you get what you pay for” – Kurt Vonnegut
- When creating your new product, ask yourself “Is this something that some one much crazier and smarter than me could use in a way I never even thought of?” If it is, you have a product.
- Don’t be reactionary. That email doesn’t need to be responded to today. You don’t have to ship out right this minute. Take a second to completely check for bugs before pushing the build. When you’re 100% sure, make sure you’re 110% sure before moving forward.
- Don’t underestimate the power of incredible customer service. When creating a consumer based hardware product, your customers are your torch bearers. Make sure they have enough fuel to pass the torch for years.
- Focus on doing one thing really well and owning that market. There is always a tendency to add everything in the kitchen sink, which only convolutes the product and your company’s vision.