Episode 011 – Aaron Garner of Piano Marvel on Starting a Software Company When You’re Not a Developer
Aaron Garner is a piano teacher and champion for innovation in music education. Like other teachers I’ve interviewed, Aaron’s business idea came from an inefficiency he noticed in his piano studio. The solution he came up with led him to raise $600k in capital and start a software company called Piano Marvel.
- All of Aaron’s work revolves around teaching and teaching more effectively. He saw a need for a program to objectively assess a student’s level of piano proficiency and provide feedback.
- He wrote a business plan and presented it to friends who were in a financial position to invest. Friends talked to other friends and he was able to raise $600k in capital from to produce the first beta version. Since it’s start, Piano Marvel has invested over $5 million developing the software
- Aaron hired a developer in the beginning stage to determine if the idea was even achievable. Communicating the vision to developers and non-teachers can be a challenge, as they often do not have an understanding of music pedagogy.
- The team found it helpful to divide roles and ideas into two categories – innovators and builders; Innovators being the ones who actually practice (teach) in real life and have to test the products, and builders create the product and respond to feedback.
- After only a year of production, the first demo they exhibited at the Music Teachers National Conference in Atlanta didn’t even work!
- Promotion of the product was primarily through local teachers and universities. Now, Aaron desires to market to more universities and to be more discoverable online. Think about how your product is best marketed: online, in-person, etc
- Aaron and his team built rapport with well known publishing companies in order to use their music in Music Marvel. Relationships were built by networking and attending conferences.
- Doubt, frustration, and setbacks are likely to be a part of the start-up process, but believing in the product is what helped maintain motivation to continue development. The only way to learn is to just get in and do it! Mistakes will be made, but that is part of the process.
- Today, the Music Marvel team has grown tremendously and consists of developers, music editors, marketing professionals, and managers.
- Goals for the Piano Marvel program are to increase the number of song titles by 3,000, double the number of universities utilizing the program, improve features, and allow the app to be used on Apple/Android devices as well as Chromebooks.
- Piano Marvel is about the piano teacher and helping the teacher teach more effectively. To truly understand the capacity of this software it is best to try it for yourself through a demonstration!
Book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
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