Tech Rap: A Q&A with Founding CEO, Tom DeVesto
Posted on February 14 2019
This month marks Como Audio’s third anniversary in business. It’s hard to believe three years have gone by already. Tom DeVesto started Como Audio after selling his previous company, Tivoli, and serving out a one year non-compete agreement. I started with Como Audio after its inception, following 15 years at Tivoli, product managing every model from the year 2000 through 2015 (as well as most of the products from sister-company Sapphire Audio). I had also worked at another of Tom’s company’s, Cambridge SoundWorks. So, I thought what better person to ask Tom to reflect on the past 3 years and indeed his whole career? To that end, I asked Tom to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some questions:
PS: What originally inspired you to get into the audio business?
TD: I got into the audio business because I love music. Didn’t have a lot of money in those days and working with bands and building sound systems was the best way for me to be immersed in music. I then started reaching out to people in their homes and delivering sound systems made by companies like KLH, Marantz, and Advent.
PS: Why did you start Como Audio instead of retiring?
TD: I saw on opportunity to channel all of this really cool new music content delivery into a simple to use, good-sounding box. I’m not quite sure what retiring is anyway.
The Boston Herald: Just one of many publications covering Como Audio’s launch in 2016.
PS: Do you have a funny Como Audio story you can share?
TD: I don’t know if this is funny, but it certainly is crazy. When I first designed Solo I intended to send the drawings to my designer and a copy to myself. I accidentally sent it to my old email address at Tivoli Audio, so my big secret was given directly to my newest competition!
PS: What’s your design philosophy?
TD: I think products should be designed to look like what they are. I like using real materials with metal, paint, and of course, wood.
Tom reviewing his Solo and Duetto designs in Como Audio’s Boston office in early 2016. Photo by Peter Skiera.
PS: What’s the best part of your job?
TD: When I get the first production sample of one of my products and get to feel it, hear it, and look it over.
PS: What was it like meeting Neil Young? Have you met any other famous musicians?
TD: It was great meeting him. He wrote a fair amount of the soundtrack of my life. Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a fair number of famous musicians from my days of doing professional audio. Some of my favorites were Rod Stewart, Doc Watson, Stevie Wonder, and a whole bunch more.
Tom (on left), founder of The Bridge Sound Company in North Carolina, which arranged professional sound for live concerts.
PS: What’s your advice to anyone who wants to start their own audio company?
TD: Don’t start it if you’re willing to give up easy. Companies are a lot of work and almost nothing is a given.
Tom DeVesto and Peter Skiera, Vice President of Product Development, testing a Solo at Como Audio in Boston.
PS: What’s the key to being successful?
TD: See the previous answer.
Last year, Tom received the “Small Business Executive of the Year” award from the Consumer Technology Association.
PS: What person influenced you the most over the years?
TD: I’ve probably been most influenced by my working with Henry Kloss. He was a man who could see things others could not.
Henry Kloss with his Model 88 radio on the cover of Cambridge SoundWorks’ mail-order magazine.
Looking back almost 40 years: Tom’s (center, with tie) first trip to China to sell them the rights to manufacture projection TVs. Imagine, China buying technology from the USA!
PS: Where do you see audio heading in the future?
TD: I see people hooking up high-quality audio systems to one of these millions of voice assistant products on the market. These assistants are a great way to access music, but they don’t sound good. That’s easily fixed.
PS: What’s one of the biggest changes in audio since you started in the business?
TD: The way musical content is delivered. It’s gone from solid objects like records and tapes to streaming and downloading.
PS: What artists/music have you been listening to recently?
TD: I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass music lately; also, Americana and Folk. I saw David Byrne over the summer. Still a favorite.
PS: Anything you want to add?
TD: Enjoy the Music!
Celebrating three years of great sound (from left to right): Ben Merberg (Sales), Tom DeVesto (CEO), Angela Hahn (Financial) (with Gus the dog), and PJ (Social Media). Photo by Peter Skiera.
Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development in 2016. Peter can be reached directly at email@example.com