A small business working out of a humble storefront in Ferndale normally does not garner attention. Unless, of course, you’re Livio Radio and you are working to change the way people listen to radio. For Jake Sigal, founder of Livio Radio, his love of consumer electronics has led him to create a market changing product and attract attention from the states biggest venture capital firm, Beringea.
Perhaps the most compelling story about Livio is Sigal’s approach to customer service. He actively monitors customer feedback, looking at complaints as a way to improve business. He sends hand written notes to customers. He insists that his customer service center help customers with anything their Livio Radio needs, even if it is diagnosing internet connection problems. This is, after all, a radio that streams music from the internet. Even ideas for future products and features are shaped by customer interactions. This is not something that just sounds good to tell the public, this is a way of life for Sigal’s crew.
“Its all about our customers. I love our customers,” he declares. “We make sure that our customers are happy and that’s what sparks the innovation for the next round. In fact, there’s a new feature we’re adding a sleep timer to our iPad app which came in from a customer.”
It helps that his staff in Ferndale is talented and connected in the community. As someone who has lived a lot of places, Sigal acknowledges having a strong local music scene and prodigious music promoters like Paxahau help create a great way to connect new customers to his product. Those connections help keep the Columbus, OH native grounded in Ferndale.
“Really, if you think about it, theres a great amount of resources here that are affordable and professional,” he acknowledged. “Ferndale is a very easy place to sell.”
While the company is based in metro Detroit, the lessons Sigal has learned apply to startups anywhere. He started his own blog to document some of the struggles he faced. Get him started on the idea of building a business from scratch, he will tell you to prepare for bootstrapping, long hours, small salaries and focusing on revenue growth before you get too interested in adding employees. With Berengia on board, he was able to gain capital and business advice, two commodities he is confident will grow his business.
“They know how to handle my financial challenges going into the future to manage our growth,” said Sigal. “They weren’t trying to step on our toes where we are strong in. We know product. We know sales. We know marketing. But when it comes to the financial community and how to make sure we grow our business through that, that’s where Berengia fills in the gaps. Thats why were doing business with them. ”
What started as an idea for an internet radio developed in his home office is now a suite of products backed with Michigan investors. He proves innovation has a home in Ferndale.