Last year, Ian Schafer, founder of Deep Focus, stepped away from the marketing agency—and, months later, from Engine, which acquired the agency in 2010—saying it was time to do something outside of the advertising industry he'd "come to awkwardly and toughly love."
Now, he's landed at Muzik, a wearable tech company that has gotten investments from Twitter, Michael Jordan and Schafer himself. He'll serve as the company's president and chief marketing officer.
The company, which describes itself as a "connected hardware, software and content platform" seeks to offer products with feet in both high-tech and high-fashion, such as stylish headphones with the same capabilities as a smartphone. The company believes those types of products could help people be more engaged in the world instead of constantly looking at their phones.
"I'm really looking forward to using technology to help people live every moment in their analog lives, not just their digital lives," Schafer says.
He adds that the company needs to work on its brand building using culture instead of just the typical tech brand marketing that focuses on utility and value.
"Any company that's trying to make game-changing technology has a bigger challenge than that, and that's adoption," he says. "The road to success is littered with companies who have built great technologies but couldn't drive adoption. Adoption is way more than distribution. Adoption is getting critical mass to not only to fall in love with your products but fall in love with your brand. Their technology is fantastic, but they needed a go-to-market strategy that achieves both of those things."
Schafer says an important part of this will be collaborations with people and fashion or design brands. Gucci displayed custom Muzik headphones for a recent event, and Muzik says it will be doing upcoming collaborations with Kering umbrella companies (which include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga), though no official announcements had been made about which brands or when.
Schafer says he's excited to "not just [work] in a vacuum or a silo, but interact and interplay with other cultural brands."