LOS ANGELES - It was "music" to Steubenville native Matthew Paprocki's ears to be announced as the winner two years running of a Best of Show Award presented at the International Consumer Electronics Show held earlier this month in Las Vegas.
The 1993 graduate of Catholic Central High School who calls Los Angeles home is the co-founder and creative director of Soundfreaq, the maker of a critically acclaimed line of wireless speakers "to deliver premium sound for a wireless world."
He also helped launch Boombang, a design consultancy business.
"The awards are given out by iLounge, a leading review site for iPhone, iPad and iPod accessories," Patrocki explained.
"They review submissions from hundreds of exhibitors at the CES show and honor the top products based on design, features, innovation and value for customer," Paprocki said.
"We've been fortunate enough to receive this honor from iLounge two years in a row for Soundfreaq - last year for Sound Kick and this year for our newest wireless speaker, Sound Platform 2."
The honorees were announced Jan. 9 with 24 winners selected from hundreds of developers and thousands of products, "representing the best and most innovative products we've seen at CES," notes iLounge's website.
"We have a lot of respect for iLounge," said Paprocki, the son of former Steubenville residents Mark and Marianna Vallera Paprocki of Canton. "They have been reviewing speakers for iPods pretty much from the start and are thorough and insightful. They set the standard, in our opinion, which makes it a real honor and meaningful to be recognized by them as having the best speaker at CES again this year," he said.
"There were dozens of new wireless speakers being introduced, and to be singled out as the standout is humbling," Paprocki said. "We're very proud and excited to get our newest speaker out to our customers for them to enjoy listening to their music."
Soundfreaq products allow users to stream music wirelessly from any Bluetooth compatible device, including iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android and Blackberry devices
Designing products, packaging and brands is something Paprocki always wanted to do.
After high school, Paprocki attended Ohio State University, graduating in 1997.
"I worked at Fitch, a design consultancy in Columbus, and later in San Francisco. In 2000, I went to work at Frog Design, also in San Francisco, where I was until 2004 when I started Boombang, a design consultancy, with a colleague," he said.
"I wanted to design products, packaging and brands, which is what I do today," he said. "After consulting with both startup and large companies such as Disney, Microsoft, Rubbermaid and Bath & Body Works and Major League Baseball, I gained the experience to be able to start building new brands and product lines, which is what I do today."
Paprocki resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Amanda Coplan, and their four dogs "and a cat that thinks he's a dog, too." They have been in Los Angeles for 12 years and before that, San Francisco.
The two work together as well.
"We first met working together at Fitch in San Francisco," he said. "She has experience as a brand strategist working with clients like Pepsi and Cirque du Soleil, as well as a development executive for feature films including working at Warner Brothers. Amanda is the vice president of marketing at Soundfreaq, so together we work on all the product designs and marketing. Our team is very small, half a dozen people here in Los Angeles and the other half in Hong Kong, so we work very closely as we collaborate on everything together. We're able to make decisions fast and really stay focused on the customer's experience with our products and brand which, I've seen from my consulting experience, can sometimes get lost in the development process with larger teams," he said.
While Paprocki continues to have a consulting business, his focus now is directed to building the product lines and brands that he manages, including Soundfreaq in addition to G-Project and Capello brands that he created.
"I work on designing the products - how they look, what features they have and how they work," Paprocki said. "I also work on designing the packaging, web and marketing material. I pitch retailers, like Target, on our products and work with factories on production of the products," he added.
Asked what he would like to get across to readers, Paprocki noted technology and how people use it is constantly changing.
"I'm passionate about music and helping people to bring more music into their lives and to have a great experience with our products," he said. "We're proud of their quality and value and proud to stand behind them with great customer service. New technology like Bluetooth wireless, smart phones and high-speed Internet access continue to afford us new opportunities to discover music, and we want our products to make it convenient and fun to share and listen to that music... It's what we call 'Happy Listening.'
"We're always looking to design products that balance function, form, quality and value without compromise. Since I'm not working in large corporations, I can really stay focused on crafting people's experience with our products, and we're able to bring them to market quickly and at a great price," Paprocki continued.
"It's a real thrill to be part of such a small team that can create products that people use every day all around the world. Growing up in Steubenville, it wasn't always clear what the path could be to sharing ideas and designing products for people, but with great colleagues, some late nights and a little luck, I've been fortunate," he said.
Paprocki credits his hometown roots for some of his work ethic.
"Growing up in Steubenville, I learned the value of hard work and focusing on developing real relationships with your customers," Paprocki said.
"While in my businesses I don't have quite the same face-to-face interaction with our customers as my grandfather did at his neighborhood grocery store, I still picture what it's like for our customers buying and using our products," he said, referring to his paternal grandfather, the late Stan Paprocki Jr., who operated Paprocki's Market in Steubenville on Carnegie Avenue. His other grandfather is Orlando "Frank" Vallera, a local resident.
"Always putting the customer first, putting people first, is what is at the core of the products and brands that we develop and sell," he said.