Travel-happy UCD grad rides folding-speaker invention to prestigious list

Jason Lucash’s OrigAudio Fold ‘n’ Play music speakers recently made Time magazine’s list of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009.

For Jason Lucash, travel and music are the mothers of invention.

The young entrepreneur’s OrigAudio Fold ‘n’ Play music speakers recently made Time magazine’s list of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009.

Lucash, a 26-year-old alumnus of University of California, Davis, estimates he has traveled close to 400,000 miles for business and pleasure during the past five years, and he never leaves home without a portable music player.

“Music and travel work together,” he said. “Music reminds you of home.”

He was in South Korea last December, with small plastic travel speakers in tow, when he came up with the idea for a foldable speaker that would fit easily into a case with his laptop computer. He contacted a South Korean speaker-manufacturing firm and suggested using its components to create a portable speaker that starts out flat and folds together, like origami, into a 3-inch cube.

Lucash calls San Francisco home, but said he spends most of his time in airports or on airplanes.

In a telephone interview last week, Lucash said he’s still trying to get used to the heady company. NASA’s Ares rockets led Time’s top 50 list, which also included the AIDS vaccine, tank-bred tuna and a $20 knee.

Lucash graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a degree in managerial economics, but he launched his first business as a third-grader in the East Bay community of Danville. He and friends set up a candy stand on the street where his family lived and operated it for three years.

“It was on the main thoroughfare for kids who rode their bikes to school,” he recalled.

He started a bartending service for weddings and special events while in college. But it was his experience as an “ambassador” for Microsoft at UC Davis that launched his career.

“That’s how I got into the whole marketing thing,” Lucash said.

Lucash also credits a UC Davis marketing class taught by lecturer John Constantine for helping equip him for his endeavors.

Constantine, whose classes typically number about 150 students, said he doesn’t recall meeting individually with Lucash. But when he learned of his former student’s achievements, he looked up Lucash’s grades.

“He was a solid student,” Constantine said, adding that he was pleased to hear Lucash valued his class.

“But whatever success he’s had, that’s him,” Constantine said. “In a country of 300 million people and many of them trying for that great idea, to be one of 50, that’s really mind-boggling.”

OrigAudio speakers attracted the interest of a couple of venture capitalists, but Lucash said he was able to start the business with his own money.

The speakers, which sell for $16 a pair, have resulted in about 7,000 orders since online sales began in August. About 4,000 of those have come since last month’s publication of the Time list.

With a six-member staff, OrigAudio distributes the speakers out of Chicago and has begun selling them through various retail stores. Lucash said they’ve seen the greatest demand in Canada and Japan.

They have yet to find outlets in the Sacramento area. For those who don’t want to order online, Lucash said, the easiest place to get them is at Techshowcase in San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 3.

While savoring their recent success, Lucash and his staff are preparing for the launch of another product called Rock-It, which he described as “a little square device with earbuds.”

It allows earbuds connected to a music player to be affixed to the surface of an object, such as a box, desk or window. The object is used to turn a vibration sequence into sound.

“This will revolutionize the way people listen to music,” Lucash predicted.

For more information about OrigAudio, see the Web site at