Arian Rahbari knew he was onto something when parents started offering him money.
The then University of Waterloo student was pitching his fourth-year design project, a music learning app that provides real-time feedback to musicians about their playing, at the Velocity Symposium event. During the break, parents in the audience approached him about purchasing the service once a workable model was completed.
“When we started the project, it wasn’t our intention to start a company,” Rahbari told BetaKit. “It just happened.”
Rahbari and his co-founder Ivan Cheung were tired of making the commute to Waterloo every day, so Singspiel laid stakes in Toronto and worked its way into the MaRS Jolt program. The company spent most of 2014 preparing the tech that powered Singspiel’s sophisticated learning algorithms for commercial use.
“The lesson I learned is that sales solve everything.”
But while the technology was progressing nicely, building a company around the technology was another matter entirely.
“This is my first time on the entrepreneurial journey,” Rahbari said. “We made a lot of mistakes we probably could have avoided. It was a learning experience.”
“When you look at early stage startups,” he continued, “someone codes, the other person sells. Everything else literally doesn’t matter. The lesson I learned is that sales solve everything.”
With that lesson learned and newfound connections made through MaRS, Singspiel has locked in on the company it wants to be, raising a $350,000 seed round led by IAF to continue product development.
Singspiel has also narrowed its customer focus, forgoing doting parents for now in favour of champion teachers at established institutions in the musical community. These teachers are not only evangelizing music education via technology within their institutions, but helping develop a music curriculum Singspiel can then sell back to them.
“Our focus now is to build a complementary tool that teachers can use in their lessons,” Rahbari said. “This can really fill the gap between teachers and students while the students at home.”