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Focusing on the US Market from Day One: Melodics Founder Sam Gribben on Offering Products Based on Users’ Needs
Original post appeared on the Kiwi Landing Pad blog here.
One of the key goals of the Kiwi Landing Pad is to pass on information from other successful entrepreneurs, as we aim to build an ecosystem that nurtures startups.
Late last year we started the Kiwi Founder Series. Aiming to capture and build on the momentum of the Sales & Marketing Jams held in New Zealand every 6 months. We wanted to continue the conversation, bringing awesome people who are ‘doing it’ in a simple ‘crowdcast format’ that gives you a direct line to targeted knowledge without taking too much time from your busy day.
Next up in the series is Sam Gribben, ex-CEO of Serato (DJ Software) and Founder & CEO of Melodics. A live replay of the webinar can be watched here. This post is an adaption on key points made in the Webinar, with a specific focus on the US from day one.
Melodics Founder (and CEO) Sam Gribben was among the first few employees of Serato, a software business that primarily developed professional DJ software, in 2004. He was with the company for a decade. During this time, Serato’s workforce grew to 85 and the software has been widely used by DJ’s all over the world.
Since Day One, Serato knew that if it’s biggest competitor, Native Instruments, had a presence in the US market, it was a no brainer for them to be focusing on the US market. The company started in Berlin and was prominent in Los Angeles because of its feature-rich products. But instead of producing merchandise that directly competed with Native Instruments, Serato settled on its roots and focused on creating products that provided what the customers needed, wanted and used the most.
Sam explained that they really built the brand by working with artists during the development stage of the product. They were not focused on endorsements. What they looked at – long-term – was to determine if the merchandise can give what people need and if it’s appropriate for them. He added that their biggest success was when artists who went to compete won because the tool was able to provide them with what they require.
The Birth of Melodics and Persuasive Technology
This philosophy somehow guided Sam to develop Persuasive Technology when he started his new company Melodics and created a software program with the same name. As he raised a small seed round funding in late 2014, Melodic introduced its first product in the market in October 2015. At present, it has over 50,000 registered users.
Melodics is a software program that teaches individuals to play musical instruments and makes use of Persuasive Technology, where you can plug the instrument that you’re playing into the computer and the tool will ‘listen’ to the sounds that you are creating, rates your performance accordingly and offers tips on how to improve. Melodics is the same as FitBit, Duolingo and Nike Fuelband – all mixing social interaction, gamification, data visualization and psychology to serve as motivation to individuals to do the things they want to do and discover how they can still excel. At present, Melodics is teaching individuals to engage in ‘pad controllers’ that work the same as drum machines and are used by DJs.
The Goal to Grow Melodics
Things may still be early for Melodics, but Sam said that they have huge plans of growing the company from New Zealand to other parts of the world. He added that businesses based in New Zealand can do the same thing as long as they concentrate their attention on what users truly need and build products to serve those needs.
Kiwi Landing Pad loves to pass on information from other successful entrepreneurs to nurture startups, and late last year they started the Kiwi Founder Series, bringing awesome people who are out there doing the work into the spotlight.
The Kiwi Founder series is made up of “crowd casts” that give business go-getters direct access to a targeted knowledge base full of helpful information for growing and scaling. In the first of these crowd casts, Cameron Priest, Co-founder and CEO of TradeGecko, speaks about his experience moving their SaaS startup to the wild world of Singapore and raising funds for further growth.
One of Trade Gecko’s goals in moving to Singapore was to launch their business in the JDFI incubator. They were looking for an area with great government support, large markets, and fewer distractions for their 90+ employees. They also had a sneaking suspicion that raising funds in Singapore would be substantially easier, and Cameron notes that Singapore is similar to Silicon Valley in that venture capitalists actually want to invest with you, making fundraising relatively painless.
Surprisingly, they received $815,000 (Singaporean dollars) during their initial seed round, back when they only had 10 customers.
But before they could start a Series A, they needed roughly $1m in revenue; a goal which TradeGecko thankfully reached at end of 2014. So far, they’ve raised all the funds they need to support thousands of customers in more than 100 countries around the world. And they expect to raise even more funds through 2016 to expand that reach.
While it’s not always easy to find businesses that have done what TradeGecko has done – as in, not many people have built a SaaS business that brings in $100 million a year outside of the Silicon valley – but Cameron says that their success hasn’t come without mistakes.
His advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to do what they did:
While Silicon Valley is usually the dream locale for startups, Singapore has done a great job of helping TradeGecko become the success story they are today. According to Cameron, it’s an excellent place for Kiwi entrepreneurs to launch a global business and it shouldn’t be ignored – especially for businesses who want to take advantage of the booming middle class market.
Catch the recap here:
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