In just a few years, the French manufacturer or wireless audio products Divacore has managed to establish a name for itself against giants like JBL, Bose, Sony and Apple. What is its secret? Perseverance and a talent for anticipating trends, of course. Meet David Grasso, founder and CEO of Divacore.
by: Silicon Luxembourg
featured: Divacore’s team at CES 2020
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Divacore was the first start-up in Lorraine to attend CES 2017 with a delegation from the Chamber of Commerce. In its third year this year, Divacore represented Business France’s delegation. This year, it unveiled a “magical” surprise. Antipods 2 is the latest addition to the range of wireless headphones that respond to the sound… of your voice! This has all been possible thanks to Google’s “Just ask” integration.
“We know that by 2024, 80% of the world will have wireless headsets. This will be the most spectacular growth since the development of smartphones,” anticipates David Grasso. “And, the reception we’ve had with Antipods is testimony to this growth. We are extremely pleased with the reception we’ve had so far and are looking forward to its launch.” The launch online and offline with its usual distributors (FNAC, Boulanger, Darty) will take place this spring.
Feel the sound move
David Grasso began his career in the world of video games and then went on to join high-tech sound through retail and online sales. Passionate about music, he has seen audio digitization happen from within.
“Sound is the opposite of imagery, which is being increasingly flattened. Shelves, computers, telephones… everything is flat. Flat is, however, not the right configuration for good sound.” He often analyses the high-tech products of sound proponents: “I wanted to learn from their good practices. People today want to take their music everywhere. What solutions could we offer them? “Curiosity, observation, and trend analysis: these are the basic qualities that led David to create his own audio brand in 2011 with two high school friends.
Why Metz? Because, why not. In 2014, the startup joined Bliiida, a digital third party in Metz that was starting to incubate startups. “In Bliiida, we found an ecosystem that allowed us to build a local network and find support skills on the spot. Maybe we inspired other start-ups but it also put the spotlight on the city, which supported us too.
Compacting the decibels
They wanted to be audio-nomads and were the first in France to do so. The very first wireless loudspeakers launched by the young brand had cocktail names and were ultra-powerful: “With Blue Lagoon, we got 90 Db on less than 5cm diameter and 100g. When you pushed the sound, the speakers jumped on the spot,” laughs David. Then came wireless stereo models and the first wireless speakers called Ktulu capable of 40 hours of autonomy (01Net Nominee as 2015’s best speaker). The Addict, Blue Skull and Hey by Jo (Wilfried Tsonga, please) wireless headphones and the cheekily named “Antipods” arrived in 2016 and 2017. “By comparison, Apple didn’t launch its wireless headsets until 2014, when they bought Beats by Dre.
Today, their wireless Airpods are the leaders. I didn’t want to copy, I just wanted to know why it worked. It has been an avalanche of awards since: best wireless headset in 2017 and best audio product in all categories in 2018. For 15 years, David has been a source in the Asian audio manufacturing market. Today, Divacore has its own network of R&D engineers there. “I make the best of every technology I can offer at the right price, just below the existing leaders. My strength is to be “in time to market”: I know what will work next.”
Sound nomads looking for new markets
The Divacore team is made up of five people, including a marketing associate, Linh Tran, who has given the brand a digital charisma capable of seducing young and connected users. Linh has been at David’s side since the early days of Divacore. In 2019, she was awarded the “Digital Woman” prize by the Femmes de l’Economie network, a prize that rewards the young woman’s career path and entrepreneurial spirit. “With Divacore, I show that women can talk about technology and high tech, launch innovations and succeed,” she says with a smile. Although Divacore sells as much as its competitors JBL and Sony in its product category, their market remains predominantly French. Bose and Apple are still out of reach, despite occasional lower scores in technical terms or autonomy. “We would like to start a new fundraising campaign to expand abroad,” says David Grasso, who already has other ideas in mind. It would be the third for the brand, which would be well distributed in the USA, Canada and Japan, in particular. “I want to democratize the best of audio,” he says. We are sure he not only has an ear for music but has a fine nose capable of leading Divacore to mighty success.
- Year of creation: 2011
- Location: Metz, France
- Founders: David Grasso and Linh Tran
- Activity: Manufacturer of wireless audio products
- Status: SAS
- Number of employees: 5
- One figure: 40,000 units sold per year
A side note
According to David Grasso, CEO and founder of Divacore, “What will be a hit in 5 years is the instantaneous transmission that will go through the headphones. I am also betting on is the prostheses for hearing impaired people who are currently not as well received. I’m also expecting the design of headphones to evolve to something more uncomplicated and trendy.”