It was the winter of 2015. I had been let go from my Senior Product Manager position after 15 years, just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. There’s never a good time to be laid off, but to have it happen before the Thanksgiving holiday felt like pouring salt into the wound. The paltry severance didn’t help either. Needless to say, Thanksgiving 2015 was pretty darn depressing.
Unfortunately for me, my depression wasn’t limited to Thanksgiving Day. After 15 years of round trip commutes into Boston every weekday, I suddenly had no reason to get up in the morning. I felt alone, lost, and more than a little sorry for myself. I spent a lot of time in bed and ate like a pig because food was the only thing that gave me any satisfaction. I was quickly packing on the pounds during a time when I no longer had health insurance, but I didn’t care. Making regular obligatory trips to the Quincy, MA unemployment office also didn’t do much to boost my self-esteem. I never realized how emotionally invested I had become to my job, my coworkers, and the company. To say it was a low period in my life would be an understatement. As you can tell, even all these years later, it still smarts. This is the first time I’ve written publicly about that experience. Everyone kept telling me things would get better. I didn’t believe them, but it turned out they were right.
One afternoon, Tom DeVesto (who was also out of work!) called me out of the blue and told me he was thinking of starting a new audio company. He wasn’t completely sure what he was going to do, but asked if I would do some consulting work after his non-compete expired in early 2016. I readily agreed.
Six years ago this month I found myself in DeVesto’s home office reviewing his design concepts with him, helping to define the new products, and eventually helping to tweak the sound of the working prototypes. It was very exciting to be involved at such an early stage of the company, as the two other DeVesto companies I had worked for had already been established when I came on board. We eventually rented a super cool office in the Seaport District of south Boston and gradually assembled our team.
Beat The Clock
It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since Como Audio was born in DeVesto’s home office. I look back at how much was accomplished during that impossibly short time frame and wonder how it all got done. When it comes to developing products, I’m not sure I ever worked so hard. The Como Audio Solo and Duetto were designed, developed, and went into production in less than 7 months. In the world of product management, that’s crazy town. Musica and Amico followed about a year later along with some accessories. In 2019 we designed with our first turntable, the Como Audio Bluetooth Turntable, which became a runaway success. Our latest model is called the Como Audio Blu Bluetooth Streaming Stereo System which I hope will shake up the ho-hum Bluetooth speaker market.
Meet The Press
Speaking of Blu, rd.com (Reader’s Digest) said “the Como Blu also looks as impressive as it sounds.” Forbes.com said Blu “offers a pretty compelling option for vinyl fans who want high quality, stereo sound that will fit in a small space.” Although we’re a small fish in a big pond, Como Audio has made a big splash over the years with the flattering media coverage we’ve been fortunate to receive. We held several press conferences in New York. We exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Our Amico was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Boston’s leading TV news station, WCVB, did a story on us. We’ve been featured in the Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, Forbes, Sound & Vision, Martha Stewart, Rolling Stone, What HiFi, and many other high-profile publications. As a startup, it’s been very humbling to receive so much favorable press.
The Iron Age
As happy as we are about our six years in business, we’ve kept the celebration low key. If it was a 6th wedding anniversary, the gift would be something made of iron. Don’t worry, we won’t be making any models out of iron. Iron is hardly sexy, but it’s been an important material through the decades because of its strength and durability. Iron is also a mineral our bodies need for development and growth. So, even though this isn’t a wedding anniversary, iron still reflects Como Audio’s history. It also represents the tight bond we have with our music-loving customers.
As many of you know, DeVesto’s current focus is on starting some assembly in the vacant space adjacent to our Braintree, MA headquarters to reduce the reliance on China and create jobs. It’s an ambitious goal and an enormously expensive one, but this isn’t DeVesto’s first rodeo. Cambridge SoundWorks’ speakers were originally hand-built at the company’s Newton, MA headquarters. As you walked in, there was a large, long glass window on the right-hand side allowing you to see the employees hand-winding the voice coils and assembling the speakers. Pretty cool.
Whether that dream of starting up some US manufacturing ever comes to pass will largely depend on funding. We’ve been in talks with the state, the town of Braintree, and potential investors. Regardless, we’ll be here with our free, superior customer service, two-year warranty, and our superb-sounding and looking products. We appreciate your repeated support over the years and the honest 4+ star reviews you’ve posted on Amazon and elsewhere. As highly-rated as our products are, we know we wouldn’t be here without you. And so, on this special anniversary, we say thank you for six great years and here’s to many more. As Tom is fond of saying- Enjoy the music.
Trivia: Iron is second most abundant metal on earth, second to aluminum. It’s the key ingredient for making steel and is the main component of meteorites. Plants and humans need iron. 70% of the iron in our bodies are in our red blood cells.
Como Audio General Manager Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development. In addition to Tech Rap, Peter also writes for his own blog, www.RecommendedStations.com. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org