Bharat Pulgam had gone through three pairs of earbuds in six months before he had a eureka moment: If just a piece of a headphone is broken, that doesn't mean music fans have to replace an entire headphone set.
"I was like, why are people throwing away their earbuds if just the wire frays at the very end?" said Pulgam, a 17-year-old junior at Wayzata High School.
He began a startup with modular headphone pieces called mXers that snap and twist in place to replace a broken part or to change colors. Since workshopping mXers Audio at a program for budding high school entrepreneurs in Chicago and winning the most innovative award in April, the company has become an LLC and the modular design is patent-pending.
Now, mXers Audio has launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising $25,000 by March 22. The team of high school and college students involved in the company, led by Pulgam, aims to begin manufacturing and compete in the MN Cup this year, hosted by the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
A mXer is made up of four connectable pieces that snap together — three wires and a splitter. If funding goes well, Pulgam and his company hope to have it open to the public in August.
Pulgam has expanded his mXers Audio in the Twin Cities area with high school and college students, including officers to help him run the company and brand ambassadors.
He received marketing and business help from youth startup entrepreneurship program Catapult, which brands itself as a startup incubator for high schoolers. The four-month program brings teens together to craft ideas, mold pitches and get feedback.
Pulgam's company raised $5,000 in its first GoFundMe campaign in September.
His age gives him freedom to do what he wants to do, Pulgam said.
"It's the perfect time to start something," he said.
Top: mXers can snap and twist into place. Photo courtesy of mxersaudio.com. Bottom: Bharat Pulgam. Photo courtesy of Bharat Pulgam.