Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Minigear Labs

Last night, when I was falling asleep, I thought out my whole blog entry. Seems like that always happens. Unfortunately, I can't remember it when I wake up, and I usually script these at around 3 AM (Can't sleep! Clowns will eat me!), so there's no way I'm getting out of bed!!
Plus, Ryan would kick me.

I think the beginning of this entry was something related to school having started, yet me not having posted yet. Skip the bla bla bla... Basically, lots of work, not a lot of desire to post. Or maybe just laziness. So far, I've written a few stories (including a boring stock market story - I'll spare you the details!), and produced a mini doc for Radio and a TV interview sequence for, you guessed it, TV.

Wow. My sentences are long. I need to practice writing for radio again.

*** Interruption!***
Watching RDS's pre-game show. Chantal Machabee (plus accent) does her whole lil intro bit, and Pierre and Yvon, Philadelphia played last night so maybe they're a little bit tired tonight. Something to take advantage of. And she stays fixed. Staring at the screen. The producer forgot to cue the other camera. Not so bad though, that's just a few extra seconds. You can see a strand of (flat) hair flying around. Keep in mind, they're in studio. Anyway, FINALLY, the Philly camera is cued. Pierre and Yvon stand there, staring at the camera, waiting for their cue (audio probably), and... waiting... waiting... lower the mics a bit, but not completely, AAAAAANNNDDDD Cue back to Chantal saying to excuse them, they're having *loose translation* a teeny little audio problem. And they'll go back to Pierre and Yvon in a few seconds. Cue fake smile. Audio cue: so, Pierre and Yvon in Philly. And then, something I'd only recently picked up (thanks school!), Pierre and Yvon are like, we probably lost the feed in all the bad weather, but I think you were talking about Philadelphia. AND start bla bla bla.


Anyway, speaking of long sentences...

Rogers Sportsnet Conference on November 4th. I'm helping organize it this year, and I'm really excited! :) Pat Hickey is going to be there, and Bob Babinski!!! I miss Bob. Speaking of Bob, he recommended me for a post at CBC... and I GOT THE JOB!

Starting Saturday (Habs home opener), when CBC broadcasts a hockey game from Montreal, if all goes well, I shall be "running" from the studio to the truck, in effect, I shall be a gopher!! The cool thing is, it pays really well (not sure if I can broadcast it to the world), I get a day press pass (OMG OMG OMG - Mark that off the checklist!), and I GET TO BE INSIDE A MICROWAVE TRUCK! Sooooooooooooo cool!! :)
I'm really excited. Wil Wheaton would be too. Odd segue, to you maybe, but Wil likes hockey. And my mind is like one of those tiny green frogs I saw at the Biodome this weekend.

I believe my post was supposed to end with a comment about Wil. Ah yes! I miss Wil. Sounds weird, and stalkerish, but I swear, I'm not!!!! - a stalker that is. Weird, I am. I was going to randomly comment on one of his Page Two posts that I missed him, but I thought it might be a little too creepy. Wil makes me feel... good. Just so good about myself, and about him (no, not in that way, you dirty mind you!). When I'm feeling a little bit down, all I have to do is read a passage from Just a Geek or Dancing Barefoot, and I instantly feel better. Maybe it's because it makes me feel like I'm not the only one who's had some "I'm really okay, but inside I'm not" troubles. Even if I've had that - kinda not really - before. Maybe it's just because he is just so relateable, and real. He's just so real. Like that friend you always got along with well (once you were both adults), but you both got busy, and even though you live in the same neighborhood and stuff, you just never have the time to get together. Sometimes you IM. Mostly you just read each others' blogs.

Okay. Enough of the imagination there.

I think the whole point of the Wil Wheaton comment can be summarized in 2 points:

1) I miss you (and random imaginary potential friend)
2) Thanks (for being approachable, and real, and sharing your expriences)


On that topic, that is.

Next topic, because I know you really want to read some of my stuff...
I abused James (for information that is!), not once but twice in recent weeks. The first time was for the following piece, on his small business called "Minigear Labs". The website is currently down, but should be back up soon. Next, I abused James for my photoessay, for my photojournalism course. I shall be examining the life of "underground/underdog" bands, and how they struggle. As opposed to famous bands who just hang around in the tour bus all day, of course. Pictures are to come. I've got 1.5G so far, from 1 show! To be fair, they played for 5 hours. Straight (nearly).

Looks Good, Sounds Good

Minigear Labs' basement business has promising future

By Naila Jinnah

Ever wish you were a fly on the wall? If you can’t get your hands on the latest government technology, Minigear Labs might have just what you need.

With microphones in pens, pen caps, and in alligator clips that can be attached to just about anything, Minigear Labs creates, manufactures and sells Minidisk and DAT mics that are cool and high quality, even when they are covert. They also offer sound transfer services to and from different media and live audio recording services.

Like with most small businesses, the idea for Minigear Labs came from a combination of the owners’ needs and abilities. William Paul, now 22 years old, wanted to record lectures, while James Clemens-Seely, 21, was more interested in recording music. However, the prices of items available on the market seemed excessive to the then Marianopolis College students, who were used to doing their own technical work at home.

“Will had looked into getting himself one of the (mics) that Sony sells, and they were 50 bucks or 80 bucks,” Clemens-Seely said. “We looked some up on eBay and saw some homemade ones and it was like, ‘hey, we can do better than that!’”

Some cable from the dollar store and $50 worth of Panasonic microphone capsules – the “brain” of the mics – was all it took for Paul and Clemens-Seely to pick up their soldering irons and start experimenting.

“We would go over and hang out in Will’s basement and mess around with what we could put a mic inside of that would be cool,” Clemens-Seely recalls. “We figured if we sell a couple at $25 a piece, we’ll make (our money) back, and then we’ll see!”

And that’s exactly what happened. Through the power of eBay, Paul and Clemens-Seely had effectively started a company without a business plan or even any hopes for the future.

Since it was founded in the summer of 2003, Minigear Labs has sold over 350 microphones on eBay, and many more through friends and local contacts. Buyer comments left on the website rave about Minigear Labs’ great communication with clients, their willingness to share their knowledge, and most importantly, the amazing quality of the products. Buyer dmtwill3 left one of the 364 positive feedbacks, commenting that the mics were “clearly more defined than the sony (sic) ECM-DS70P!”

A quick eBay search for “minidisk mics” turns up products that cost more than twice as much as Minigear Labs products, and don’t look nearly as cool. Minigear Labs’ competitive edge also lies in their products’ flexibility for positioning, their top of the line parts, and a custom modification that allows them to handle louder noises.

In a given month, Minigear Labs will sell about 15 to 20 mics, for an average revenue of $2000 a year. But while it only costs $10 to make one microphone, Paul and Clemens-Seely are not exactly raking in a fortune.

“As a general rule, we siphon the money back into the company to buy really classy recording gear for the live concerts we record,” explained Clemens-Seely. “So now, we have really nice recording equipment, really nice professional level microphones and computer interfaces.”

This new equipment is not only fuelling opportunities for Minigear Labs, it has also jump-started the owners’ creativity. They have plans for new products, like the ultimate bootlegger’s microphone T-shirt Paul wore during the 2006 International Jazz Festival in Montreal, and plans to develop a proper business plan.

“We have this one mic that sells fairly consistently, but we’re also looking to develop little headphone amplifiers and mic pre-amplifiers,” explained Clemens-Seely.

“That’s the sort of thing we’re thinking about now, minimizing expenses and maximizing profit.”

They’re also thinking about their futures. Paul is in his second year of a Physics Bachelor degree and Music Technology minor at McGill University, while Clemens-Seely has two years left before completing McGill’s Honours Music Technology Bachelor program.

While Minigear Labs’ profits have tripled since its launch, William Paul and James Clemens-Seely do have career goals other than running the company.

“I can see us moving on and it not happening anymore, but I can also see us turning it into the next Sony, or Shure or Sennheiser, where we make real mics,” said Clemens-Seely, explaining how they like to tweak the high end gizmos they’ve bought for the company in order to improve them.

“Having the technical knowledge to build mics or circuits does come in handy when you’re dealing with mics and circuits,” said Clemens-Seely.

“The sky is the limit!”

Minigear Labs can be found online at


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