An Interview with David Baxter, founder of Revo Radio on how it all began, and the future of radio

Founder and Managing Director of Revo speaks on how he started the company, and the future of radio - proclaiming that 'these days, if your product sells for more than £100, it better have iPhone docking, and ideally, an App to go with it'

David Baxter Revo

David Baxter is the founder, and managing director of Revo – “an award winning designer and manufacturer of specialist digital radio and digital audio products”, primarily for the DAB, Internet Radio and iPod/iPhone/iPad platforms. Revo is headquartered in Lanark, central Scotland. David tells us how his official title is Managing Director (or CEO if he’s in Asia or the USA). He told us that despite his title, “Revo is a relatively small company, therefore I tend to wear a number of hats. In addition to the usual day-to-day Managing Director duties, I’m responsible for design and product development, as well as marketing and PR.”

We started by asking David when, and how he started Revo – to which he explained that “…it was born in early 2004 after I received a DAB radio as a Christmas present from my brother. While walking the floor at the CES show in Las Vegas a few days later, I had the idea of designing a DAB adaptor product that could be retro-fitted to any car. At the time, less than 2% of DAB listening was in-car. This compared to 51% of FM listening being vehicle based. There was definitely an opportunity to bring DAB to the mass motoring public.”

“Revo was privately funded, from ten years of profits from my other business, which distributed a U.S. based loudspeaker brand, and various in-car electronics products including satellite navigation devices and speed camera warning systems.”

Interestingly, Revo is still run from the small Scottish town of Lanark – we asked him what it’s like to run his business from there, to which he told us that “…for anyone who doesn’t know Lanark (and that will be most people), it’s a small rural market town located between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It would be fair to say that it’s not exactly Silicon Valley, but we benefit from being surrounded by beautiful scenery, no traffic jams, and excellent transport links. Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are less than 1 hour away, and we’re only 2 and a half hours further north than Manchester.”

Here are David’s responses to further questions which we put to him in our interview – the responses are below in their entirety.

What’s special about a Revo radio?

[David Baxter] It’s really a question that you’d need to ask one of our customers. From my perspective, we live and breath attention to detail, from the design, through to the materials we use. The end result should ultimately be greater than the sum of its parts

What changes over the last few years have you seen in your industry?

[David Baxter] Apple, and their products, cast a long shadow. Over the last 5 years, connectivity to Apple’s iPod (and now iPhone and iPad) was something that radio manufacturers considered on a product-by-product basis. These days, if your product sells for more than £100, it better have iPod/iPhone/iPad docking, and ideally, an App to go with it.

What is the future of radio?

[David Baxter] Logically, radio is the entertainment format that should have been killed-off decades ago, by video, but it has a magical quality that things like TV have never been able to beat. Over 50% of the population listen to radio at some point during a 7 day period, and that number isn’t dropping. Radio is hear to stay. It’s future will almost certainly include a degree of interactivity, and that’s likely to happen sooner than than later.

What’s are your future plans for Revo?

[David Baxter] Difficult to talk about exactly what we have up our sleeves, but it would be true to say that we are looking at the higher end of the digital audio market.

What is the next big thing in radio?

[David Baxter] I wish I knew the answer to that question. Connected audio is where the big developments are likely to happen, terrestrial broadcast formats (such as DAB/DAB+) offer limited scope for innovation in the short term.

What new technology are you looking at when developing radios?

[David Baxter] At the moment we’re focussing heavily on two things, audio quality (through innovative audio engineering – from drivers through to DSP), and wireless technology, with Apple’s AirPlay being at the top of our list.

What, if any ‘failures’ have you had to overcome at Revo?

[David Baxter] Despite rave reviews, 2,000 retailers on day one, and being voted ‘Product of the Year’ by Auto Express magazine – our first product, the Revo in-car DAB adaptor, flopped. It caught everyone by surprise, and we just didn’t see it coming. It was however a massive learning experience, and everything we learned with the in-car product, stood us in good stead when it came to developing and launching our first domestic DAB radio – the Revo Pico.

What’s your favourite radio station?

[David Baxter] I’m a BBC6 Music man. THE best radio station in the world, and reason enough to buy a DAB radio.

Revo K2 Radio

The Revo K2 Radio - "The ultimate contemporary digital radio device"

And finally – what’s your favourite Revo product?

[David Baxter] Perfect time to ask me that. We actually announced a new product on the 31st of August, and showcased it at the IFA show in Berlin days later. K2 is our most ambitious project yet, and at £300, our most expensive. K2 is a towering column of aluminium and moulded rubber, capable of delivering reception of a wide variety of radio formats including DAB, DAB+, FM and Internet radio. It also includes iPod, iPhone and iPad docking, and features a multi-driver, twin amplifier audio design that develops 40W of high resolution digital audio. It’s a step-up for Revo in every way, and I’m really excited about it’s prospects.

Revo radios are available from retailers including Firebox (from £199.99), Best Buy UK (from 168.99), Sainsburys (from £179.99), Comet (from £152.44), Laskys (from £152.44),  Tesco (from 99.95), Superfi (from £99.95), John Lewis (from £79),  Marks and Spencer (from £79), Pixmania (from £70), Amazon UK (from £46.50), (from 41.99), eBay (from £39.99 at time of going to press).