Pure Solo: David Kaplan and John Thirkell
David Kaplan and John Thirkellis tell us about their Pure Solo website player that lets musicians create their own tracks from home
Company name : Pure Solo Ltd.
Website : www.puresolo.comFounders: David Kaplan and John Thirkell
Age : 47 and 50
Based : London
Staff Numbers : 6
Date started : 15/02/07
Turnover : Just launched into public beta
Tell us what your business does:
Pure Solo is a music website with its own proprietary software – the PureSolo Player – that lets musicians of all abilities, from learners to maestros, create their own tracks from the comfort of their home or workplace. PureSolo’s free software allows the user to view sheet music or lyrics on screen, play, practice and digitally record their instruments or voice over high quality backing tracks featuring professional studio musicians.
PureSolo also makes it easy for musicians to share their masterpieces with friends, teachers or talent scouts via email or burning to CD. User generated music and content can also be uploaded to the PureSolo social network, where they can connect with like-minded musicians and get their friends to rate their tracks.Where did the idea for your business come from?
The primary purpose of making music is to share the experience with others and we wanted to build a simple application which lets musicians join in with professionals by recording themselves playing along and then save and share their recordings.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Many new music sites have focused on the general consumption of music through downloads, file sharing of music or play lists but few have focused on the individual performer or instrumentalist. Pure Solo represents a niche but deep market of those aspiring to develop their skills and blends the practical element of recording music over backing tracks with the fun and social ability to share your finished tracks.
What were you doing before starting up?
David Kaplan was a partner of Goldman Sachs where he spent 22 years managing businesses in several product lines. John Thirkell has been in the music industry for 25 years — initially as a player with artists like Tina Turner and Paul McCartney and then in business where he built a music catalogue company with over 600 albums for sale commercially and on iTunes. Jonathan Knight spent nearly 20 years in the financial industry, working for 14 years at Goldman Sachs where he became a Managing Director in 2002 and as a Managing Director for 3 years at Lehman Brothers.
What planning did you do before you started up?
We conducted months of research on the size and depth of the market and any potential competitors. In addition, we spoke to Angel Investors, managers of VC’s and private wealth individuals and also hired advisors in various aspects of our target b2b or b2c markets.
How did you raise the money?
Our approach was to spend several months inviting potential investors to meet with us personally, get to know our team, product and our strategy, long before the actual fund raising. This worked for some and didn’t for others but we learned from everyone we spoke to.
How did you find suppliers?
I guess in our case, the nearest we have to suppliers are Music Publishers from whom we need to acquire the rights to do what we do. Publishers are traditionally very nervous about allowing the dissemination of their writers’ works on the internet – particularly when it involves the sharing of user generated versions – something which has not been done before. Our approach was to be steady and patient in presenting our case and slowly we won them over.
What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them?
Having successfully raised capital, our greatest challenge has been striking the balance of a much weaker global environment and the objective of growing and spending for the business.
How have you promoted your business?
We have a dynamic process of online and off-line PR, a creative desire to explore social avenues and a strategy of b2b partnerships.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Signing our first Major music publisher. Thereafter it was easier to win over the others.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Make sure your willingness to commit matches the size of your objectives.