A trained sound engineer comes up with the idea of developing a music mixer that’s really easy to use. Together with a marketing manager, he implements the idea and sells the device worldwide. The product, with corporate headquarters and production centre in Berlin, is the Pokketmixer. For their mass-market niche product, Christian Komm and Robert Thomalla have been awarded the coveted German Cultural and Creative Pioneers 2013 ("Kultur- und Kreativpiloten Deutschland") Prize.
The mini DJ console is aimed at portable use, whether in the park, in the car or on a boat, which is why it doesn’t need electricity. That, and the easy-to-use design, has allowed Christian Komm to develop the Pokketmixer as a product well ahead of large musical instrument and DJ console manufacturers. With the Pokketmixer, everyone can be a DJ, no matter where they are. Marketer Robert Thomalla identified new target audiences of people who take the device around with them. The Pokketmixer sells best of all in design and fashion stores, instead of in the usual electronics stores.
Pokket GmbH was founded in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg in August 2011 after more than a year of developing the business concept. There, entrepreneurs Christian Komm and Robert Thomalla turned their office into their own Pokketmixer flagship store. They hold a patent for the currentless function of the mixing console. A niche that, following the store opening, brought the Managing Director of a large musical instruments manufacturer to the store. The latter told Thomalla about a meeting he had convened with his product developers, where the Pokketmixer was the subject of brainstorming by the manufacturers, which had previously manufactured mixing consoles exclusively for professionals.
Even the colour choice is novel. In addition to classic black for DJ consoles, the Pokketmixer is also available in varieties such as silver and gold, light blue, dark green and purple. The sophisticated upper casing fits the look of iPods perfectly, these being the music source mostly used for the device.
“We want a portable mini DJ mixer for everyone. The market for DJ mixers is being redefined by the Pokketmixer. For the first time, a DJ MIXER is being offered as a mass-market product. With POKKETMIXER, now everyone can easily be a DJ wherever and whenever they want.“ – Christian Komm on his vision for Pokketmixer
Although Komm and Thomalla have moved away from classic DJ console sales and have promoted use by everyone, there are still established DJs, like Paul Kalkbrenner, who were some of the first buyers of the device. The small, lightweight design (130g) with outstanding functionality is industrially produced in Berlin-Tempelhof. The founders are proud of their “Made in Berlin“ product.
They themselves were drawn to the capital in the 90s, in the peak period of electronic music. Now they point to the origin of their product with campaigns such as “I am a Berliner”, in the context of the festivities for the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s visit to Berlin. The city’s tourism portal, VisitBerlin, took this opportunity to present the device on its visit to Washington. Pokketmixer stands for the creative Berlin, which consists not just of Internet startups, but also includes developing very real, tactile products.
The flagship store Ecke Schönhauser, which is how Berliners describe the location near Konnopke’s, attracts many people visiting the capital. The original-style decor is convincingly “typical Berlin”, and this helped the gadget in its ranking as the must-have souvenir of “Top10Berlin“.
Further potential for the success of the young company, started with self-finance, lies the availablility of new design interfaces. Thomalla is constantly working on new models. Artists create new covererings for the device through cooperative collaboration. Customised styling is also available. As a result, a 2012 edition won a red star for the film adaptation of Kaminer’s Russendisko. Large companies such as Adidas have ordered the Pokketmixer with their corporate design as a high quality giveaway gift, and Billy Talent as a merchandising article for their EP Release.
More than 12,000 units have been sold to date. The main objective of Pokket GmbH is to further develop international sales. To this end, the founders intend to present themselves at trend and design exhibitions in Europe and America. The Pokketmixer has already been sold very successfully at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. They have also involved a distributor for the Japanese market and Australia. Good sales have also been recorded in the Arab world and in Africa. There are talks with strong trading partners for expansion in the US.
“We consider the German Cultural and Creative Pioneers 2013 Prize as an important building block for strengthening the brand in Germany. We want to become even better and hope for valuable support on the path to a global presence.“ Robert Thomalla on the award
Finance coaching and expert backing awaited the founders with the official awarding of the “German Cultural and Creative Pioneers“ prize on 24 July 2013. Here the coaches faced a challenge: unlike many new brands in Germany, the founders of Pokket GmbH have already been able to achieve rapid growth with the sole use of their own labour. Thomalla confidently proclaims that they will reach the hundred thousandth sale in 2014. What they need in this short period of time are well thought out growth strategies and the appropriate investors. In their coaching, the founders even want to work on a strategy for a possible exit. This requires the best know-how and new ways of thinking. After all, rapid growth in recent years has been primarily related to Internet-based solutions.
Whether in 2014 or 2020, along with the popular figures and title holders, we look forward to the headline of the 100,000th Pokketmixer sold. Until then, we hope that the entrepreneurs, who before starting their company worked in the event industry, will give us some Pokketmixer parties!
About the “German Cultural and Creative Pioneers“ (“Kultur- und Kreativpiloten“) Prize:
The Kultur- und Kreativpiloten (“German Cultural and Creative Pioneers“) Prize has been awarded by the German Government’s Culture and Creative Economy Initiative since 2010. It recognises excellence in creative entrepreneurs and startups that stand out from the crowd with unusual business ideas and special entrepreneurial spirit. This year, 32 entrepreneurs were selected from a total of 565 applications.
Along with the award, prize winners receive a starter programme and expert guidance from the Bremen u-institute. The focus is on personal exchange in conversations with the experts, joint workshops and the development of business ideas. The organisers of the programme are the u-Institute - Institute at Bremen University of Applied Sciences, and the German Centre of Excellence for Cultural and Creative Industries. It is supported by the German Government’s Cultural and Creative Economy Initiative, a project of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the German Government’s Commissioner for Culture and Media.