If you attended this year’s unConference, then you probably saw runner-up Tyrone Hazen’s invention, the Fireside Audiobox. Tyrone introduced his wireless speaker with flames that dance to the music at the conference. He was coming off the heels of a successful Kickstarter, which raised $38,000 last summer.

Since then, interest in the Fireside Audiobox has ignited. It’s hot! Damn hot! (Does anyone get this movie reference? Anyone?) Retailers want it. I recently chatted with Tyrone to learn more about his progress with his fun invention that has transformed into a real business.

The Fireside Audiobox.
The Fireside Audiobox.

Here are a few of the most recent developments:

  • Grey Street, the company that makes the Fireside Audiobox, received an order for 10,000 units, from a major retailer.
  • Thanks to this gigantic order, Tyrone had to figure out how to make 10,000 units — fast. He’d been making the units here, but doesn’t have the capacity to scale production that quickly.
  • So he reached out to a friend at RuffWear for guidance. And because people in Bend’s business community remain exceptional helpful as a rule, that friend connected him with a U.S. company in China that specifically helps businesses find appropriate manufacturers.
  • Then Tyrone went to China for two weeks.

It was a productive and eye-opening visit. Thanks to the aforementioned connection, he was able to set up a relationship with a manufacturer there in short order, and is now awaiting samples of the Fireside Audiobox to approve.

“The interesting thing about that monster order was that it got me to pull the trigger and go to China,” Tyrone says. Up until now, he’s been making the products here, but he didn’t have the bandwidth to make that many that fast

Tyrone says he’s still figuring out the details of that large contact and whether moving forward on it makes sense. In meantime, he’s now set up to fulfill his 200 Kickstarter orders and primed to manufacture more Fireside Audioboxes. (In consumer products startupland, getting a giant order is great. However, determining how to fulfill a giant order and still make a profit is even better).

He’s received a lot of interest, especially from luxury home goods retailers. Tyrone earned an invitation to the Worlds Fair Nano event in San Francisco in January, a curated show of new technology, art and more. He’ll also be the at the Las Vegas Market, a furniture show, and in the Eureka Park section of CES. Tyrone may actually live at trade shows in January.

“All of the interest we’ve had so far has been inbound,” Tyrone says. “Lots of retailers are reaching out, including Sharper Image and Touch of Modern. I think they think our product is unique, and something that their customers will want.”

Tyrone is also considering fundraising to help Fireside Audiobox expand more quickly. It’s been a busy couple months — and something tells us that business for this unique startup is just heating up. All puns intended 🙂