BLOXVOX - For Private Phone Calls
BLOXVOX - For Private Phone Calls

This project has already launched.

About

The open office is widely hailed as the ideal workplace, but it creates a real problem for workers: there’s no good way to have private phone calls. Whether it’s an important client call, or personal in nature, many conversations are simply inappropriate for coworkers to overhear.  Most people unplug their laptop, get up, and rush to find somewhere quiet.

BLOXVOX is the solution. 

Designed to work with a pair of headphones, BLOXVOX is placed over the mouth, and the microphone slips in the side compartment.  Your voice is substantially blocked from reaching people nearby, but perfectly audible to the person you’re calling. 

“BLOXVOX” is derived from the Latin “vox”, meaning “voice”.  The product “blocks voice”.   

Design

The notches create a comfortable grip, or a head strap lets you go hands-free.  The hole on the front allows you to breathe, while letting minimal sound escape.  The soft part creates a comfortable fit and voice-blocking seal against your face.

Patent pending.

Benefits   

BLOXVOX allows coworkers to work effectively in close proximity, so companies make more efficient use of office space and create a more productive work environment.

BLOXVOX is perfect for executives, auditors, doctors, lawyers, paralegals, M&A professionals, customer service departments, commuters, loud coworkers, and introverts.

BLOXVOX is great for coffee shops, trains, airports, call centers, and any room with thin walls.  It’s perfect for crowded apartments, hotel rooms, and dorm rooms.

BLOXVOX works with any type of voice call including Skype, Slack, FaceTime, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc.

BLOXVOX works with any brand of headphones - if the microphone fits, you're good-to-go.

BLOXVOX is designed to be as small and light as possible while still effectively blocking your voice.  It fits easily in backpacks, purses, and laptop bags.

Rewards   

Supporters will receive the product!  Each BLOXVOX includes the voice privacy tool and head strap.

The initial production run will be the First Edition, and the words "First Edition" will be embossed on the inside surface of the product.  The First Edition will ONLY BE AVAILABLE ON KICKSTARTER!

Note: BLOXVOX is designed to be used with your headphones.  Which is to say, headphones are not included.

Story

I’m Greg Umhoefer, founder of BLOXVOX.

Prior to starting BLOXVOX, I worked in consulting at a “Big Four” audit firm and was a founding team member and CFO of an international financial technology startup.  After 7 years in finance, I rolled up my sleeves and set about solving my “favorite” office problem.   

I work in offices all over the world, and I constantly experience this problem first-hand.  In order to make a private phone call, I have to get up and find somewhere quiet.  This means unplugging my laptop from power and the external monitor.  Packing up my laptop, mouse, notepad, pen, phone, and headphones.   Getting up and rushing to a private place. Reorganizing my things in an empty conference room.  These steps are inefficient and frankly ridiculous.

My coworkers do the same thing.  In fact, in researching the problem, I discovered that it's prevalent in offices everywhere.  Many people describe a scene like this: "I run and find a room. If none are available, I go to the balcony.  If it's too cold out, I go to the stairwell, but the cell service is terrible."

It's 2018 - we shouldn't have to live like this anymore!

So I made it my mission to find a solution and share it with the world.  After 75 prototypes and countless hours of testing and redesigning, I am thrilled to introduce my solution to a common office problem.

Market    

In 1995, Bill Gates predicted that the internet (or “information highway”) would cause large cities to start losing population as it became easier to stay connected in the suburbs or countryside. That prediction did not pan out - our largest cities are more densely populated than ever. 

The population growth of cities has led to sky-high real estate prices in urban centers. Employers have responded by asking employees to work closer together: the average square feet per employee decreased 33% from 2010 to 2017. The preferred office floor plan has also changed. The open office is heralded as the best layout for fostering teamwork and creativity, but keen observers also notice that more workers can be squeezed into less space. 

We pack ourselves into crowded buses and trains for the commute, then arrive at our workspaces still surrounded by other people. Densely populated cities and open offices encroach on our personal privacy bubbles - we have a limited amount of our own space in which to exist. This feeling is a frustrating part of daily life in urban centers. 

BLOXVOX is a tool to help us adapt to these environmental changes. It facilitates working in close proximity to coworkers by reducing ambient noise and eliminating the need to get up to take certain calls. And BLOXVOX helps preserve our personal privacy, by keeping our half of a conversation from being heard by unintended parties. 

Lastly, numerous data hacks in the last several years, as well as the recent misuse of personal data by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, have put data privacy concerns back in the spotlight. BLOXVOX fits perfectly into the idea that we should take great care in how we protect our personal information and identities.

Manufacturing   

BLOXVOX is in advanced discussions with multiple injection molding companies who are excited to work on the project.  The product consists of 3 separately molded parts, which are assembled to create the BLOXVOX voice privacy tool.  One piece is a rigid plastic and two pieces are a pliable thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) which is similar to rubber, but longer lasting.  The technology used by the injection molding industry is quite mature - BLOXVOX's plastic and TPE parts are relatively easy to manufacture affordably and in large quantities.

Project

The BLOXVOX project has been bootstrapped so far - i.e. taken no angel or VC funding.  I firmly believe that 'lean and mean' is the best way to develop a physical product innovation like BLOXVOX.  The focus is exclusively on adding value to the end-user: researching the problem, designing solutions, testing, gathering feedback, and iterating.

Funds raised from Kickstarter will go directly to the deposit for the injection molding tooling (the “molds”) and the initial production run.

At this time, the project has no recurring expenses like office rent, payroll, or advertising.  Obviously, these are normal parts of a functioning startup company, and they will be set up after the Kickstarter campaign is completed and after the ecommerce website is up-and-running.  Until then, the operation will stay lean and mean!

Financial    

The main challenge to overcome in order to make BLOXVOX a reality is the cost of tooling.  Tooling is the "mold" used in plastic injection molding. Payment must be made upfront, and the cost of high quality aluminum molds runs into the tens of thousands.  

Here’s a high-level summary of the financial model, which breaks down the $25,000 funding goal for the project:

  • Molds: $20,000
  • Production (500 units): $2,750  
  • Head straps (500 units): $500  
  • Shipping (500 units): $1,750
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