Waterville-based Startup Eariously Awarded MTI Software Development Grant
Eariously, a software startup based in Waterville, ME, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) to continue working with software design and development specialists to bring its product to market.
Eariously’s software turns any digital text (e.g. websites, emails, articles, PDFs, images) into audio that can be listened to on a phone or laptop. Founders Nick Rimsa and Brendan Barr were motivated to create the innovative software in 2018 because they were sharing so many articles with each other that they didn’t have time to read all of them, but had plenty of time to listen during commutes. With the MTI funding opportunity, Eariously plans to continue working with its diverse software design and development specialists (contracted from Houston, Madrid, Missouri, and San Francisco) and testing its software with hundreds of listeners, and aims to begin selling the software publicly later this year.
“We believe the most important part of making anything is doing it with the right people. We’ve found some exceptionally talented folks from around the world who we’re humbled to have the privilege of working together with,” explained Nick Rimsa, CEO and Co-Creator of Eariously.
Throughout the past year, the Eariously team has worked closely with students at colleges around the country, most notably Colby College, Thomas College, and Northwest Missouri State University, in order to design their listening software. Continuous research has guided Eariously’s progress as they interact with listeners as both designers and instructors.
“In order to design for the best possible outcomes, it’s essential to become an expert on the problems at hand,” Kia Jones, a UX/UI Designer who has worked closely with Eariously for the past year explains. “Our team has tirelessly researched and tested both reading and listening habits in order to fully understand what we need to make. I’m certain that our focus on learning through perpetual investigation is what will allow Eariously to become the ideal listening solution available.”
After teaching a product design course in January at Colby College, Nick and his teammates were drawn to the prospect of building Eariously in central Maine because of the strong relationships they had begun to forge. The Eariously team has capitalized on Waterville and Maine’s burgeoning startup ecosystem. In addition to working closely with MTI, Eariously has also relied upon SCORE for their free mentorship and workshops, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and the Central Maine Growth Council for their networking assistance and business development, and students and faculty from Colby College and Thomas College.
“When we design, we start with the end first. What outcomes do we need to design for?” Nick explained. “Maine’s entrepreneurship leaders are ensuring that software startups see success by designing for our success. We’re very happy to be making Eariously here.” The startup is located in the heart of downtown Waterville at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space.
“Beyond the amazing product the Eariously team has been developing, they’ve provided tremendous mentorship and support for Waterville’s emerging entrepreneurs and startups,” said RJ Anzelc, owner of Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space. “This grant is a testament to their hard work thus far, while also the tip of the iceberg for what we hope the region will bring in the coming years. Eariously is helping to lead the way.”
The partnership between Bricks and the tech startup is emblematic of downtown Waterville’s growing innovation and knowledge-based economy. “We are excited about the strength of the founders and the inventive software that is being developed by Eariously in our region,” said Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development for Central Maine Growth Council. “Businesses, and in particular tech startups, thrive where there is a community of capital, mentors, and innovation. Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space in downtown Waterville is illustrative of these key components.”
As the Eariously team begins to sell subscriptions, it plans to continue growing in Waterville and formalizing partnerships with institutions in the city and throughout Maine that will help distribute its software to more listeners.