With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to dive a bit deeper this week into what exactly I want to build with this company and the values we should have at our core. Being at such an early stage, I think it’s important to be thinking about and setting up the right set of values so that we can be intentional about how we grow and what types of business to pursue. At the end of this blog entry, I’ll also be showing off our first Dio prototypes! (You can already see a sneak preview of them in the banner image above!)
Our Mission: To Make Listening Easy
As I’ve been building up Dio over the past two years, I’ve had advisors push me towards defining a succinct and focused mission to drive me and my team forward. Our mission has gone through several iterations as I learned to verbalize exactly what I was trying to do. It started with: “to democratize the speaker industry by empowering consumers to build their own fully-customizable home audio systems at low cost.” Quite a mouthful, huh? It eventually evolved into: “to give everyone full control over their listening experience” – a bit shorter, but a little grandiose and still didn’t capture exactly what I wanted this company’s focus to be on. Was it the listening experience portion, the full control portion, or the build for everyone portion? A bit of all of it, maybe?
Then one day, when I was reflecting about what exactly I was trying to build here, I thought to myself: “I’m not trying to make speakers, I’m trying to make listening easy.” And that’s when it hit me – Dio is here to make listening easy, something that no other speaker company is truly focusing on in full. Sonos’ mission focuses specifically on music & sound quality, JBL/Harman focuses on connection, entertainment, personalization, and productivity, and Bose just wants to be “better“. Only Dio is actually trying to make listening, simply put, easy.
So what does that mean, in practice? Well, as you can see through each iteration of our mission statement, at the core there have always been three values: affordability, simplicity, and empowerment. To make listening easy means to make it easy for everyone, no matter your income level or expertise with technology, to set up and use our devices in your home. To make listening easy means to allow you to stay engaged with your audio content wherever you are without making you plug in your ears, carry around extra hardware, remember to charge devices, or risk losing small earbuds under your couch somewhere. To make listening easy means to give you the power to control your listening experience, without limiting you to only using one playback device, a handful of specific apps, or even one speaker brand.
Our Vision: A Speaker in Every Room
Have you ever stopped to wonder why we all don’t have a speaker in every single room of our homes? It’s impractical, right? But why?
This is the core question that drove me towards Dio. Speakers don’t seem to be that expensive anymore – so why can’t we just set up simple speakers everywhere and call it a day? That is what we are aiming for in Dio. Where our society stands right now is that only wealthy audiophiles can or will spend the money to put speakers everywhere in their home, and that’s because the only speakers that can do this are premium ones. And once those speakers are set up, they often can only work within their own brand ecosystem. And that brings me to another of Dio’s values: cross-compatibility.
To really shift to a society where we can all place something as simple as a speaker in every one of our rooms, we need even the simplest speakers to be able to connect to each other and to the premium stuff. So in selecting how I would build these Dio speakers, I opted for being as cross-compatible as possible. That’s why the Dio Node works with over 100 other speaker models, most of them high end, so that you don’t have to limit yourself to only the expensive stuff but can still incorporate them where you need them in your home. Want a speaker in your closet, pantry, or laundry room? Don’t let a $200 price tag, unnecessary smart features, and home theater-level sound quality get in your way anymore. There’s finally a simpler speaker out there.
One More Value...Making Sure We Don't Become Evil
While I am passionate about our mission and vision, there is one last value that I want to describe to make sure Dio truly stays on the straight and narrow no matter how large we may (or may not) grow. I always admired Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto in their code of conduct, and it’s sad to see they removed it several years ago. I tend to believe that, at the core, most big technology companies started with a passionate mission and vision of social empowerment like Dio’s, but misaligned financial incentives eventually get in the way when companies have to start thinking about generating revenues, increasing volumes, and competing in the marketplace. Advertising revenues, stock prices, and the pursuit of operational efficiency all shift the focus away from what’s best for the end user of the product, ultimately leading down a path of hurting society. If Dio ever does become big (which I want to humbly recognize that it may never be), I want to ensure we don’t become bad for society.
While Google’s motto was admirable, I think the biggest problem that led to its removal was that it was not measurable and hard to define. So for Dio, I want to propose a much more focused value that I’ve been keeping in mind as I move forward with this: What’s good for Dio is good for society. The reason I think this is so important is because it forces me, and hopefully everyone who becomes part of this company in the future, to think about the incentives we are creating when we measure our own success. Will Dio benefit by harming society in some way (for example, removing competition to keep prices high or harming the environment)? If so, then there is a clear misalignment of incentives and we have to re-evaluate what we are doing. At the end of the day, I want to structure this company to succeed when society succeeds, and to fail if society starts to fail. Moving forward, I’m committed to making sure Dio does not become evil, and that starts by making sure that what’s good for Dio is good for society.
Now for the fun stuff...prototypes!
As promised at the beginning of this blog entry, check out our first Dio prototypes below! Yes, I did name them Grasshopper, Sunflower, and Potato – and they sound great!