Sydney entrepreneur’s start-up smashes Kickstarter funding target


Sydney-born entrepreneur John van den Nieuwenhuizen has big plans for his Apple-inspired start-up Hidden, which is on the cusp of raising $1 million on crowdfunding website Kickstarter.


Van den Nieuwenhuizen, who was born in Sydney but is based in San Francisco, co-founded consumer electronics company Hidden with former Motorola colleague Vitor Santa Maria, based in Milan.


He and Santa Maria have designed and consulted for many Fortune 500 tech companies, with more than 30 years of experience between them.


They’re now branching out on their own, aiming to create products that break the usual, overly complex molds. The designers pride themselves on their simple but innovative product designs.


Hidden’s first product, dubbed the HiddenRadio & Bluetooth Speaker, is described as “the simplest, most powerful radio and wireless speaker for iPhone and iPad ever in a compact form”.


The speaker wirelessly supports iPhones and iPads, or any other smartphone, tablet or computer, via Bluetooth technology.


The device also has a built-in radio, while rechargeable batteries can support more than 30 hours of streaming music.


There are no physical buttons or screens on the unit, and users control the volume by twisting the cap. Its round shape allows sound to be projected at all angles.


In November last year, Hidden turned to Kickstarter to raise funds, setting itself a goal of $125,000 by January 18 this year.


But the start-up has smashed its target, raising almost $1 million via the platform.


Hidden’s achievement is reminiscent of the success story surrounding California-based start-up Pebble, which raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter after setting itself a goal of $100,000.


The first batch of HiddenRadio & Bluetooth Speakers will go to the 5,358 people who pledged funds on Kickstarter. Without their support, it’s unlikely Hidden would have got off the ground.


Van den Nieuwenhuizen told The Sydney Morning Herald the secret to his success is the simplicity of his product.


“A lot of people think to make a product more competitive you have to add more stuff but I think it’s what you take away that makes a product truly great,” he said.


“Apple have proved that mantra – it’s not what they add, it’s what they take away – and once you get rid of all the complexity the product is really simple.”


Van den Nieuwenhuizen said he outsources everything except the design of the product, and the business can be managed from anywhere in the world.


“Our web developer is in Montreal, our acoustic engineer is in Santa Cruz, our development team is in Hong Kong,” he said.


“I think it’s this new model of working that the internet promised but it’s just starting to get up to speed now with the faster internet connections.”