After first interviewing Tom Rodgers, founder of MusicGurus, we wanted to followup and see if anything has changed over the past several months.
Over the past several months, what has been your main focus at MusicGurus?
The main focus for us has been fundraising and product development.
On the fundraising side we’ve been through two due-diligence processes and now have a campaign live on CrowdCube (50% with the first 10 days) and also have an offer of investment from Ascension Ventures who are a digital media VC.
In terms of product development, our first customers helped us isolate a number of bugs and improvements we want to make. Some of the improvements are already in place, but a few larger projects will require us to close our fundraising round to execute and so are still in the specification stage.
Are there any types of musician you have not yet seen on MusicGurus, but would like to?
We’re lucky to have some pretty hot musicians on MusicGurus, and we’re currently on-boarding more. However, we’re still looking for our first household name artist!
To this end we’re talking to our partner in the states about recording a course with Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves, whom he plays with and acts as musical director for.
We’re also talking to a fascinating agency called Miles (http://www.miles-theagency.com/) who look for new revenue streams for artists. They have a few artists including Ella Henderson and Moby who they think might suit education well.
You started with an MVP video coaching site, what lessons did you learn from your tests before building out MusicGurus.
Loads of lessons. For example, we learnt that students really care about video quality and getting exactly what they’ve paid for. As a result we’re introducing a token based payment system where students can pay for individual coaching sessions, and moving away from monthly subscription.
We also learned that coaching benefits from a clear questions / answers structure, so we’re changing the UX of the site to pair teacher responses clearly with student questions and also to walk students through the process of creating a coaching message in a way that’s clear and easy for an artist to respond to.
It taught us so much to have just a handful of customers using the platform – to anyone testing a beta product internally I strongly recommend launching it and recruiting (manually if necessary) a few paying customers to help really test it. The paying part is crucial.
What made you decide to go to CrowdCube as your next round of funding?
A number of angels had told us that they wanted to invest in MusicGurus and using an equity crowd-funding platform seemed an easy way to aggregate these investments and do the legals while attracting further investments from people we didn’t know.
We did also think that with a B2C company such as MusicGurus there would be marketing benefits from having a large number of people with a small stake in the company scattered across the UK and abroad.
We chose CrowdCube above Seedrs simply because their fees are less and they don’t take any carry (a percentage of profits from investors). However, both platforms appear willing to work alongside VC funds, which was one of our criteria.
How did you prepare, what did you do to progress in it as fast as you have?
To prepare for crowdfunding you need to make sure your company admin is all in order. That means your cap sheet is clear and agreed (important to avoid last minute negotiations!), your accounts are financial plans are all in order and you have documents to support all the claims you make for your business (e.g. partnership agreements, research documents supporting market sizing etc).
We progressed quickly because we had already warmed up a number of angel investors and also actively promoted our campaign as soon as it launched. Our approach has been to attract smaller numbers of large investments, but we’ll soon switch our focus to trying to really pull in the crowd, and we have a number of tactics prepared for this, including events and PR announcements.
Over the past several months, what challenges have you faced?
Candidly, a partner flew to London and re-negotiated all terms, including equity and cash payments, of a deal that we thought was already clear and agreed.
At the time we were going through DD with a fund and it almost de-railed us as it was a core part of our pitch. It was pretty stressful and definitely affected moral.
However, now that the dust has settled we’re actually in a stronger position than we were before, and have a much healthier agreement in place with our partner.
What are your ambitions for Music Gurus over the next year?
It’s all about product market fit now. We want to nail the model that really engages students, helps them to learn better and quicker and keeps them motivated and inspired.
By then end of the year we hope to be able to show exactly why investing £1m+ on MusicGurus would help us build a company that could deliver serious profitability and scale.
You mentioned, you are about to ‘embark upon a whole bunch of UX projects’ could you reveal what they are?
We want to simplify the site to radically reduce the number of clicks users need to get what they need. We think that for users scrolling down is much better than clicking so the home page and “course” page will be a streaming list of all the content with the site/ course respectively.
Another area that requires attention is the coaching part of the site. As described above we want each piece of “homework” to be neatly organised and to make it easy for students and artists to send and reply to messages.