They say necessity is the mother of invention. When August Bering’s young son wanted to learn how to play the drums, the entrepreneur came up with the easy-to-use (and silent) solution Freedrum.
With a diverse background in music and computer programming, August is a trailblazer in different areas of innovation.
“New ideas and projects have always been an important part of my life. I am an entrepreneur to the very bone,” he says, adding:
“But I always wanted to be a rock star as well!”
After some online research following his son’s interest in the drums, August soon realised the virtual solutions on the market were quite complicated and difficult to use.
“You needed a camera to record you when you are playing, a big empty room with decent acoustics, a huge lamp to shed light on you as you play – and quality sun shades as the lamp in your face is so strong you can barely see anything. Oh, and a brilliant computer to process everything. It was honestly more hassle than it’s worth.”
August asked himself why nobody had tried using motion sensors on the drumsticks. He decided to have a go himself and built a prototype which “actually turned out pretty well”.
“I truly felt that when people see this invention, they’ll want it.”
He contacted Almi, a start-up advisory, who put him in touch with advertising agency Block Zero. Together, they started a work exchange: they created a video for Freedrum and August helped them in return. The video caught the attention of Block Zero Co-founder (today CEO of Freedrum) Philip Robertson.
“He loved the concept and managed to convince the others to get more involved. It was a perfect solution for me as an inventor: I could do what I do best and others could help with the packaging of the idea.
“We did a Kickstarter campaign in November of 2016, raising $600 000. I was hoping for a million, but it was still pretty good!”
It doesn’t matter how great the product is, if the sound is delayed by a second once you’ve hit the drum, it just doesn’t cut it.
The team took August’s prototype and concept from dream to reality. The unique technique behind Freedrum involves a micro sized gyroscopic sensor, monitoring how the drum sticks twists. By adding the motions, it comes to conclusions on which position the drum sticks are placed. This way, the gyroscopic sensor knows at which drum the drum sticks are currently pointing and by a built-in accelerometer it is possible to detect how hard you hit the drums.
“It’s actually a simple principle, but it is very difficult to get working properly. The technique needs perfecting, but we’re getting there.”
AWA is Freedrum’s strategic IP partner and the company currently has a patent application pending for a latency technique which aims to avoid a delay in the sound reproduction.
“This is one of our most pressing issues at the moment. It doesn’t matter how great the product is, if the sound is delayed by a second once you’ve hit a drum, it just doesn’t cut it.”
With Freedrum’s new technique to prevent this, the sensors predict the beat before it is administered.
“We mostly use IP to get potential investors on board and to put our competitors off from trying to copy the technique.”
The Freedrum equipment is now available for purchase in their online shop, with a beginner’s kit starting from 125 euros. The biggest markets for August and his team are the US and Europe, adding up to a total of 80% of all sales.
“We use social media marketing for Freedrum as we have noticed it works for our company”, says August.
“We saw a dramatic increase in sales after a massive Facebook group with around 30 million followers reposted our video.”
After two years in the making, by the time the finished Freedrum product had reached the market August’s son had however moved on to his next fad.
“He’s into Grand Theft Auto and gaming now. Maybe he will revert to music when he’s a bit older though. That’s what I am hoping anyway.”