The idea for detachable, customizable headphones came to Bharat Pulgam in his sophomore year of high school. Now, as a student at the University of Minnesota, he is successfully running a profitable startup that sells just that.
MXERS Audio sells customizable earbuds that have different pieces for various types of listening: MXERS xBASS are designed for listening to bass-heavy music, MXERS xFIT are for running, and so on.
The MXERS Audio collection is a complete set of all detachable pieces for all styles of audio, including both Bluetooth and wired auxiliary connectivity. The Bluetooth set, MXERS xBolt, sells for $90, around $70 less than Apple’s wireless AirPods. The complete audio collection will launch in mid-March, Pulgam told Minne Inno. He works closely with his high school friend Jarrett Heflin, who helps run the company from Massachusetts.
MXERS’ products are currently sold on Amazon, and the team is working with other retailers. The business hopes to sell its headphones in Costco later this year, Pulgam said.
Pulgam was inspired to create the five-piece MXERS headphone set because parts of his earbuds kept breaking. “[MXERS] lets you snap in different pieces of headphone instead of getting an entire new pair,” he said. The goal? A premium sound experience with earbuds at a reasonable price.
MXERS recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, surpassing its $15,000 goal to raise $17,918 from 283 backers.
Originally, Pulgam and his 10-person team – currently made up of four students on development and six others on marketing and strategy – wanted to produce domestically, but found it was much more cost-efficient to do so overseas. Wholesale is a big source of revenue for MXERS, Pulgam said, which has been profitable since the summer of 2017.
In addition to leading MXERS, the University of Minnesota student said that he’s working on two other startups. Pulgam declined to offer further details on the companies, saying that he “didn’t want to jinx anything.”
Balancing all of this on top of being a student is possible by his compartmentalized schedule: he works completely on school two days of the week, focuses on consulting for two days, and on his startups on the weekends.
“School is a way for me to get my education, and my startups are how I’m applying it,” said Pulgam. “It’s really efficient to just have one mindset for one day, rather than going back and forth,” he said of the schedule he’s created.
MXERS launched in early 2015, and has experienced early success. The team won the Beta.MN showcase during Twin Cities Startup Week last fall. Pulgam has also been featured in Minne Inno’s 50 on Fire event, awarded “Most Likely to Succeed” by Minnesota Business Magazine, and was part of a startup pop-up store on Nicollet Mall for Super Bowl Live with other local startups such as Hippy Feet and Woodchuck.