Michael, tell us about yourself and how you got the idea for SoundBops?
I have a great passion for music. My dad taught me guitar when I was young, and we still play together, but not everyone has that opportunity. When I was studying product design engineering at Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow, I decided to focus on the lack of access to musical instruments and tuition for children. I created Soundbops, an instrument designed specifically for children made up of musical building blocks.
How does it work?
Traditional instruments are not suitable for young children. They do not have the required skills such as dexterity until they are much older. Soundbops is an easy, engaging and educational starter instrument that creates a stepping stone to traditional instruments.Each block is a different musical note like a key on a piano. It is easy and intuitive to use as the child can lay out just the notes they want. It also has accessible colours, simplified music notation and they can build and play a chord in a single press!
Why did you decide to apply to the Launchpad Competition?
Having just left university I had a concept and a prototype but not a business. I was aware of the Enterprise Fellowship programme through the Launchpad Competition. I was a single founder with little experience and I was looking for advice and guidance to take the next steps in launching Soundbops.
What was the most valuable thing you learnt from the Enterprise Hub’s support programme?
The workshops were incredibly valuable. It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day running of the business. The focused training days challenged us to understand our customer and business better as well as providing advice about fundamentals such as investment, team and IP. The most valuable learning came from the other entrepreneurs in the group; working alongside like-minded people was very insightful.
What impact did the Competition have on you and subsequently your business? What are the most important lessons you learnt?
I have personally found it very fulfilling. Being a design engineer, I love creating and solving problems. Through entrepreneurship I can be at my most creative.
Throughout the training there was a real emphasis on a lean approach to business. Iterative testing led me to understand my customers and to improve my business. The importance of testing assumptions has stayed with me. At the end of the support programme we successfully launched Soundbops on Kickstarter.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
My advice would be to go for it. The entrepreneurial skills and confidence I have gained have been game-changing for my business. I now have an excellent group of entrepreneurs who I can ask for help. Your business plan will likely change; be open to the process and you will leave in a great place.
What does the future hold for Soundbops?
We have just closed our first round of investment and have grown the team. Soundbops has gone through significant improvements and will be fully launching for Christmas 2019. We have a very limited batch so sign up to reserve yours!
If you'd like to reserve one, please visit their website and sign up here: https://soundbops.com/