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“I think it’s a really cool solution to a problem,” he says of the product, which he says went through about 75 different prototypes in the past nine months. “But I want to see that confirmation from the market in order to go forward with production” following the crowdfunding campaign, he says.
Umhoefer worked in finance and helped launch a fintech startup before deciding to test the waters as a solo entrepreneur. He says if Bloxvox falls short of its $25,000 goal, he’ll likely turn to other sources to raise the money needed to pay for a large production run of the devices.
“It’s fairly likely that this product will be made one way or another,” he says.
Bloxvox doesn’t have any full-time employees. Umhoefer says he’s gotten some free help from friends in areas such as branding and injection molding. Still, he says, “it’s primarily been me” developing the device.
It can be bit jarring when you see someone using Bloxvox or a similar device for the first time, especially when he or she is also wearing the head strap. (Many bloggers have compared Hushme’s device to the mask worn by Bane in the 2012 film “The Dark Knight Rises.”)
The experience of talking into a noise-muffling device can likewise be somewhat unfamiliar, Umhoefer says.
“I think there’s certainly something unnatural about holding [or wearing] something over your mouth,” he says.
But not every new product looks and feels like it belongs after arriving on the scene, argues Umhoefer.
“Think about a normal headset that’s used at a desk,” he says. “If you didn’t know about it already, it actually looks kind of ridiculous. It’s like a headband with a tiny stick that extends out over your mouth. But, over time, it becomes normal. I think there’s there are a lot of weird-looking products that people just become used to.”