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Presenting speakers to a critical crowd

Published on 31 January 2020

By City of Sound

The speaker brand STEENSSEN is moving production from Asia to Struer. Today he is going to present his speakers to the people from Struer at an event in Sound Hub Denmark.

Frederick Rickmann, the CEO of STEENSSEN, has placed himself strategically in front of the main entrance to Sound Hub Denmark, approaching the guests entering the building.

The start of the event is only minutes away.

“I’m not nervous, but I probably should be,” he says in an idle moment and elaborates: “Stage fright”.

Today is the first day of a two-day event promoting and selling STEENSSEN speakers in Struer.

“Today, we had a lot of former B&O employees who are very critical and technical when they ask questions. They ask things that ordinary customers would not ask”

- James Rickmann, Head of sales, STEENSSEN

His clothing is revealing that today is a special day, as he is wearing a formal jacket on top of his turtleneck sweater.

The crowd entering the building is a mix between business partners of STEENSSEN and locals from all walks of life interested in the new audio brand.

The large central room in Sound Hub Denmark fills up with the sound of people mingling until a loud whistling sound makes the crowd turn down their voices.

“Please come a bit closer,” Peter Petersen, CEO of Sound Hub Denmark, says and gives a brief presentation of the place before he calls Frederick Rickmann onto the stage.

Frederick Rickmann gives a presentation of STEENSSEN and as predicted he doesn’t appear to suffer from stage freight. At one point he even makes fun of his own Scottish accent.

The crowd, some wearing winter jackets, others wearing suits, laughs, and when the presentation is over, the guests spread around the large linoleum-covered floor, some going to the bar, others taking a closer look at the speakers on display.

Listening to TV in the living room

An adjacent room that has been dubbed “the living room” is also filling up with guests, who want a demonstration of the speaker in home-like surroundings.

The room is equipped with bookshelves, a sofa, acoustic sound dampers, and of course, in the middle of it all, Frederick Rickmann.

He controls the speaker from his phone, streaming a Dolby Atmos demo from YouTube. The guests move around the room to get a sense of the 3D sound experience that Frederick Rickmann is talking about.

Two guests are requesting the STEENSSEN CEO to stream a TV programme from his phone in order to determine how the speaker handles TV and movie sound.

The guests are Peter Dahl-Jensen and Jane Overgaard, both living in Struer and looking for a sound bar to connect to their TV.

“We have been to Elgiganten and HiFi-klubben listening to sound bars, but this just has a better sound quality”,

- Peter Dahl-Jensen, Guest at STEENSSEN event

They mention sound quality and curiosity towards the brand as the most important reasons for being at the event, but they also see a value in supporting a local company.

“I try to shop locally, and we might as well buy things from here instead of driving to Elgiganten,” Jane Overgaard says.

Presenting speakers to a critical crowd

The critical crowd of Struer

Next to the sliding doors leading outside, STEENSSEN has established a small booth selling speakers with a discount because of the event.

Today’s head of sales is James Rickmann, Frederick’s son.

As well as working full-time with economics in a public administration, he is also helping his father sell STEENSSEN speakers when he has time off.

“Today, we had a lot of former B&O employees who are very critical and technical when they ask questions. They ask things that ordinary customers would not ask,” he says and adds that his feeling is that the general attitude towards STEENSSEN as the new brand in town is positive.

“My experience is that they get Christmas lights in their eyes when we talk about a new sound company coming to Struer,” he says.

James Rickmann estimates that he has sold five units today as well as a lot of potential sales with customers needing to measure their living room before making the purchase.

No cheap plastic

Two people are standing out from the crowd of mostly middle-aged business people. Two young guys, Anders Kvejborg and his friend, have taken the trip from Thy, roughly an hour away from Struer, to come look at what the speakers have to offer.

“My dad used to work at Bang & Olufsen. Now he has a 3D printing company. I’m here to find out if we will buy this speaker to connect it to the TV at his work. Here we get to try it in a room that resembles a living room,” Anders Kvejborg says.

One of the big reasons that STEENSSEN is moving production to Denmark is because of the idea that “Made in Denmark” is easier to sell than “Made in China”. And it seems to work on Anders Kvejborg:

“We need something that is not just cheap plastic, and this is… this will be a Danish company,” he says.

Want to be recognized and well-known

On the first day of the event, STEENSSEN sold five units, and the second day they sold 14. This has prompted Frederick Rickmann to say that “there is no doubt that it is a success.”

Frederick Rickmann has previously described his business model as making small batches of the speakers which he then sells to get more cash to invest in the business. And according to Frederick Rickmann, this model seems to work.

“The sales are accelerating. Six months ago, we sold around 15 units per month on the Dutch market, now we ship around 20-30 units per week to Germany and The Netherlands”

- Frederick Rickmann, Founder & CEO, STEENSSEN

Frederick Rickmann says, revealing that the Dutch market is the largest European market.

In Asia the Taiwanese sales are about the same as in The Netherlands. In Denmark the sales so far have been more modest – around five units per week.

However, in the end of 2019, STEENSSEN applied for the grant “InnoBooster”. A grant that would make the move to Struer easier and quicker. If the sole goal of the event had been to earn money to make up for not getting the grant, Frederick Rickmann admits that the event has not been worthwhile.

“If that was our plan b, it would have been terribly bad, but the goal of today was also to bring the people from the city in and share with them what we are doing. One of our biggest issues has been to be recognized and well-known in Denmark. It helps commercially when you go abroad that people know who we are. There is more press material, and we can sign up for larger events. We get more credibility attached to our brand”.

Frederick Rickmann explains that he expects the accelerating sales in Germany and The Netherlands combined with the sales from the event will end up funding the move to Struer.

If all goes according to the plan B.

Presenting speakers to a critical crowd

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