OrigAudio's Sonic Revolution

Pssssst. I've got a party in my purse.

No, no, it's nothing illegal—don't get too excited. It's a little gadget called Rock-It 3.0, which hooks up to an iPod, laptop or phone and turns anything—milk cartons, lamp shades, cardboard boxes—into a speaker. For all those times when you think, "This moment would be better with music," you flip this thing on, and ta-da! Instant jam session.

Jason Lucash calls it "the poor man's surround sound." As co-founder of Costa Mesa-based OrigAudio, the 29-year-old entrepreneur and Mike Szymczak created the Rock-It and other rad portable, affordable audio devices, including fold-up speakers made of heavy-duty recycled paper, which were named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Inventions in 2009 and featured on the ABC reality show Shark Tank.   

"It's crazy," Lucash says of their success. "We've created a speaker monster."

Lucash and Szymczak were marketing guys for Jansport when they saw a need for sound on the go. "We were putting on events around the world and always had to travel with these big, bulky speakers that took up so much room in our suitcases," Lucash says. "It sucked. We thought, 'Dude, there has to be a better way.'"

One day, the colleagues were tinkering with a Chinese takeout box, marveling at the convenient, origami-like design that allows it to be stored flat and pop out when needed. "We're like, 'This is the best invention ever!'" Lucash recalls. So they ran with the concept. Using recycled materials, they made what they called the Fold 'n' Play, a battery-free device that folds into two 3-inch cubes for blasting sound anywhere and any time.

In 2009, OrigAudio was born, and since then, the company has become a machine, launching products in 5,000 stores in more than 20 countries, as well as on Amazon and other retail sites. One of Lucash's favorite items is Designears, noise-reduction headphones that customers design themselves using their own patterns or images. And the company recently released the Epishock, which turns any flat surface—such as a desk, wall or floor ­into a speaker. Lucash describes it as the Rock-It's "bigger, better, stronger brother."

The young inventor says he could have stayed in the corporate world, but he'd much rather be rocking to his own beat. "Our whole motto is, 'Why be like everyone else when you can be different?'" Lucash says. "Being different is awesome."

Follow me on Twitter: @michellewoo.

This column appeared in print as "OrigAudio's Sonic Revolution."


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