PK Sound has appointed Uber’s founding engineer, Conrad Whelan, to its board of directors. Hailing from Calgary, Alberta — where PK Sound is headquartered — Whelan will assist the company in its fundraising efforts and hopes to serve as a visionary for its innovative product line.
As a result of his experience as an accomplished engineer, Whelan brings his technical expertise, an extensive professional network, and a long-time passion for the PK Sound brand to the company’s executive leadership team. In addition to helping with the company’s current fundraising efforts, Whelan is already looking toward the tech side of live sound and asking how to make loudspeakers smarter.
As an example of the smarter approach PK Sound has already taken, Whelan points the Trinity advanced robotic line array, which features PK Sound’s 3D Wavefront Control technology, letting engineers precisely steer and focus sound.
“Trinity is a pretty epic innovation, especially because, the thing about electronic music is, it’s loudly amplified, and it’s being played more and more. Especially in places like America,” he continued, “electronic music culture is coming to more outdoor shows, and more festivals. And the fact that Trinity has a tunable sound field makes it much easier to place more festivals in more densely populated areas, because you can tune the field of sound so that you’re not disturbing neighbouring areas.”
Born and raised in Calgary, Whelan earned a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Calgary, where Uber co-founder and CEO Garret camp also studied.
Whelan said it was his love of live music that first brought him to PK Sound. Working as a DJ in 2004, he volunteered to do the sound engineering at one of the stages for Shambhala Music Festival, a four-day electronic dance music festival in Salmo, British Columbia. Whelan said he’s been a fan of PK Sound speakers ever since.
As he became better acquainted with PK Sound products, Whelan also became familiar with the company’s founders. While attending a later Shambhala Music Festival, he met fellow Calgary native Jeremy Bridge, president and CEO of PK Sound. “I loved the fact that these guys were from Calgary, my hometown, and they were building speakers,” Whelan said, so they kept in touch.
Having established a relationship with PK Sound’s leadership team, Whelan moved to San Francisco in 2010 to join Camp’s newest venture, then UberCab, which Camp co-founded in the wake of his earlier success with web-discovery platform StumbleUpon. In 2016, Whelan left Uber and began building an entrepreneurial investment portfolio.
First, he turned toward his love of the arts and helped with fundraising for Hodgee Films Inc, a Vancouver, British Columbia, film company focusing on music, travel and pop culture based documentaries.
Now, with his recent board appointment to PK Sound, Whelan is looking forward to learning, “as a board member, what it takes to run a company like this.” And, while he suspects his role will evolve with the company, Whelan has already started making calls on behalf of PK Sound, helping with fundraising efforts and using his network to reach out to potential investors.
“Whether it’s at festivals or clubs, in Western Canada, PK Sound is like the gold standard,” Whelan said. And he hopes that, with the help of his network, he might be able to extend the brand’s footprint well beyond North America.
“These guys are making speakers that can modify how they’re passing sound through the air, and it’s modifiable through software.”
For Whelan, it’s just these kinds of innovative software solutions that made joining the board a no-brainer. “I think software is eating the world. So it just makes sense that somebody is doing that, and PK Sound is on the cusp.”