Founded by Brian Carroll, Christopher Esclapez, Tom Rogers, and Peter Martin, MusicGurus provide online music education from top-class musicians from around the world.
What was the inspiration to start MusicGurus?
The inspiration behind MusicGurus was the knowledge that learning from musicians who are exceptional themselves can massively accelerate your musical advancement. This type of learning experience used to be the privilege of a select few, mainly students at leading music colleges.
We wanted to figure out a way to make music education from top artists available to all, and create an online environment that helps users to make the most of the opportunity to learn. MusicGurus is the solution!
Brian, Tom, you both studied together at business school. What made you decide to start Music Gurus and how did you get Peter involved?
We’re both interested in music and start-ups, so working together on MusicGurus was kind of an obvious thing to do! We also feel the team we have is very complementary in terms of skill-set.
Peter has been involved from early on – he’s actually Tom’s second cousin but has been running an online music education service of his own for a few years, the learning from which has informed the design of the MusicGurus platform.
How are you planning to grow the number of musicians giving tutorials?
In the short-term musicians will come from our immediate connections in the UK and the USA. We’re lucky in that between us we know a lot of fantastic musicians as well as music industry leaders.
In the longer term, once the name MusicGurus gets around, we hope that we will increasingly be contacted by musicians who like what we’re doing and want to get involved.
Would you be putting any of the classes up for free? If so where could we find them?
We will include some sample material for every course. You’ll find the content in the course itself.
Who is Music Gurus aimed at?
Everyone passionate about developing at music! However, we think it will be more relevant to students who have already progressed a bit – when you’re just starting out it can be important to have one-to-one lessons in person with a teacher.
How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors?
Our offer is all about the quality of musicians on the platform, as well as tools and functionalities that are specific to learning music online. For example, we think hard about what the best camera angles are going to be for the content, and the coaching system is a feature that we introduced so that students can easily share their performances with their teachers.
Other music specific features in our pipeline include slow motion and looping for video playback (so that you can more easily copy demonstrations and isolate parts of a lesson) as well as video annotation for ease of feedback.
Starting Music Gurus, you must all enjoy playing music, what instruments do you play? Will you be teaching any classes on your platform?
Tom – Guitar
Christo – DJ
Brian – Voice, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Kazoo
Peter – Piano. Really really well.
What has been your biggest challenge so far with Music Gurus?
Bringing tech knowledge in-house that was originally outsourced to an external agency has been a large but manageable challenge.
Bringing in the first cohort of artists without a finished platform to use as a demo was non trivial but now the site is live and we have content it’s getting easier.
Getting the team together and structuring the company so that all parties are happy has taken some time too.
You are currently looking for investment, is that correct? What rout are you looking to raise?
Our first round will be from Angels (ideally 2-6 in total), with a VC round likely to follow at the end of 2015.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
Our aim is to prove the economic viability of the platform by demonstrating that customer lifetime value compares favourable to customer acquisition cost. We also want to learn more about the economics of finding and onboarding new artists.
In terms of the platform we want to develop a clear understanding of how customers use the initial feature set and what they want us to develop as a priority going forward.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
If need be, you can do a hell of a lot with £10k.
Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Run some experiments and do plenty of market research first. It’s much easier to single-mindedly pursue a vision if you have some compelling evidence that it can work economically.