Campus resources help local inventor “play bass, feel bass”


Courtesy of Yerko Sepulveda

Taylor Crumley, Staff Reporter

A new breakthrough invention in the music industry was put into the works by Novi resident Yerko Sepulveda and the help of the Oakland University Mobilization Zone (OUMZ) and OU’S business incubator, OU INC.

BackBeat is a “portable, wearable and invincible” device that plugs into the guitar and transforms each note into a vibration the musician can feel.

“BackBeat is used for bass guitar,” said Dr. Michael Long, the executive director of OUMZ. “Bass players can’t hear what they are playing when the frequency is too low. BackBeat is worn on the back strap of the guitar and vibrates to the bass notes.”

According to Sepulveda’s Kickstarter page, the idea for the BackBeat was the result of having trouble hearing his bass, among other sounds in the mix. He had the thought that it would be better if he could feel it instead of trying to hear it.

“I made the invention to fit the niche created when musicians are forced to not use on stage amplifiers and make a move to personal monitoring,” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $129,000 to help bring BackBeat to life. He eventually met Long, who used his connection to OUMZ to help further develop the project.

“The Mobilization Zone builds and supports platforms that integrate OU’s faculty, students, business engagement efforts, technology-focused business incubators and its regional governments into a single, collaborative entity,” Long said.

Conceptualizing and launching a company or product like BackBeat requires resources inventors don’t often have or cannot afford. According to Sepulveda, this is why OUMZ and OU INC are so important to people like him.

“The I2B program assists companies in rapidly identifying and evaluating the critical next steps in their progress toward commercialization,” Long said. “Such steps include undertaking projects such as a market analysis, helping develop a solid business plan, et cetera. The program is open to all Oakland students.”

The services available at OU to help entrepreneurs in their businesses allowed Sepulveda to take his invention from a concept to a marketable product. He said he has always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and he finally had the opportunity to do so with BackBeat, and the help of OU INC and OUMZ.

We used a local advertising group called Woodshed Agency to help with a Kickstarter campaign and social media blasts to get the word out on BackBeat,” Sepulveda said. “I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I needed the right timing and the right idea to make it happen.”

OU INC and OUMZ helped Sepulveda look at his invention from a business perspective by giving him a market analysis and important retail contacts.

“I2B is the primary way OU students participate in the Mobilization Zone,” Long said. “I2B is an experiential learning program and not a job. Students get a small scholarship and certificate upon completion of the program.”

Sepulveda’s future goals are to expand his product and branch out to help different musicians.

I2B is currently recruiting students for the Winter Session to begin Feb. 8, 2019. Students can apply via by sending a cover letter and resume to [email protected] or contacting Michael Long at [email protected].