A British music tech firm is gearing up for international success by bringing families closer together – and moving them away from their smartphones.
Founded by Rob Lewis in 2014 as Electric Jukebox, London-based Roxi offers a dedicated home entertainment system for streaming music together in the home.
Lewis – who has an impressive history of digital music credentials – was previously founder and CEO of Omnifone, a music streaming service for mobile phones which launched before the first iPhone.
His latest venture Roxi enters the cut-throat world of streaming tech with what Lewis sees as a key differentiator: a physical set-top box and ‘wand’ controller with inbuilt microphone for voice commands and karaoke.
“In the technology industry and the media industry, copying what someone else is doing without any real difference means you’ll never catch them up in the race,” Lewis told BusinessCloud.
“We’re not trying to steal Spotify customers. Fifty per cent of our customers have already got a streaming service they plan to continue using.
“We’re trying to deliver a shared experience in the home which brings everyone together, and you can’t do that on a mobile phone.”
Lewis (pictured below) is hoping to combat a “growing wave of discontent” from older generations and medical and health authorities about smartphone screen time, particularly for younger members of the family.
It’s a worry shared by a lot of high-profile musicians, Lewis said, particularly those with kids. “That made it relatively easy to get some major celebrities to come and back us.”
Those musicians include Robbie Williams, Alesha Dixon and Sheryl Crow – some of the company’s celebrity spokespeople.
While some have shares in the product, Lewis insists they have not been paid and believe the device is a positive investment for the family.
The company also has high-profile investors funding some the $15.9 million it has received to date. These include Henrik Holmark, previously CFO of Pandora, owner of Saracens Rugby Club Nigel Wray and listed investment company Yolo Leisure & Technology.
As a direct-to-consumer product, the Roxi device has seen sales success through shopping channels rather than store shelves. The company is now gearing up to expand into the United States ahead of the Christmas season.
“As a company which had a storming success last Christmas, we are hoping and believing that, as we gear up to make it really big this year, there can finally be a really great successful British company in that mix and not just those based in Silicon Valley,” he said.
“Currently, we are continuing to sell the product, and with the investor support that we have – and are – getting, we are ramping up to an entirely new level of spend with a vastly increased level of stock and rolling it out in the US.”
Lewis said he expects the Roxi devie to be one of the things consumers will see everywhere in the run-up to Christmas 2019 and is now working on ways to scale up its marketing machine and focus on localising the device for a US market.
Despite its global ambitions, Lewis plans to keep the company lean – with just 20 employees officially working for the business – and to remain in the UK.
“We would prefer to do an IPO over the sale of the business,” he said.
“We want to remain independent and be a great British company making sure that there is a company based in London who is a global player in the music streaming arena.
“If we want to be a company that goes down in the history books as Britain’s great hope within the digital music arena, then our biggest challenge is taking a great British success story and making it go global.”