Big ears and big ambitions
Acoustics and music technology alumnus, Abesh Thakur on how starting from scratch at Edinburgh was the best decision he could have made.
Abesh Thakur, co-founder and CEO of Two Big Ears; an audio technology company based in Edinburgh, was always interested in music but, as a mainframe developer for a Fortune 500 company, he only had time to dabble around the edges of his interest, the job came first.
Abesh was keen to understand the science behind the effects that sound designers use in studios to create hyper-real experiences. After considerable research, a specialist masters degree seemed the way to go and the MSc in Acoustics and Music Technology offered by the University of Edinburgh appeared to cover all the elements he was looking for.
It wasn’t a decision that Abesh took lightly as it included quitting his job, moving away from India and starting his professional life from scratch far away from friends and family.
I have always been interested in emerging technologies and wanted to find a way to pursue my interest in music production from a technical perspective.
Prepared to succeed
“Insanely supportive” and “incredible” is how Abesh describes his university experience. From the pacing and flexibility of the curriculum, to a style of teaching that encouraged students to “think outside the box”.
He also took advantage of Launch.ed, the University’s business advice and support service, who helped Abesh and, Two Big Ears co-founder, Varun Nair better understand the challenges of starting a business and the steps that needed to be taken before it could potentially support them full time. This included helping with visas to extend their stay in Edinburgh.
Despite this business-minded approach to study, the social side of university life was equally important to Abesh as an international student looking to replicate the network of support that he enjoyed back home.
The University provides a fantastic environment to socialise, network with like-minded individuals and see the bigger picture.
During semester two, Abesh and sound design student Varun built a game involving “the Meadows, augmented reality audio and stabbing monsters with an iPhone”. The subject matter may have been crude but Abesh and Varun felt that the underlying technology had potential and so they sought advice from Launch.ed and the Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre (ETTC) as to how commercialise their idea.
The company that emerged from this idea, Two Big Ears, provides the fastest 3D audio technology platform in the market for virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences. It is a rapidly growing industry that Two Big Ears is at the forefront of; helping to define the next generation of games, movies, advertising, education and immersive experiences.
It all seems a very long way from the music dabbler pondering a change of career.
The ETTC and Launch.ed do a fantastic job for early stage businesses and we can safely say that without Launch.ed and the University's support, we may have never started Two Big Ears and grown it to the level that we have.
The Acoustics and Audio Group at the University of Edinburgh
Acoustics and Music Technology - MSc
Edinburgh Innovations: Support for graduate entrepreneurs
Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre