Here’s a tech product which should stir a little envy-tinged admiration amongst chief technology officers, chief revenue officers and business development associates: an electric guitar which uses an embedded iPhone to teach anyone to get a tune out of it.
A musical instrument for the musically challenged
gTar, an addictively gratifying gizmo developed by tech startup Incident, is now available for pre-orders. The instrument uses interactive LEDs along the guitar’s fretboard that show users exactly where they should place their fingers to get the night notes. Different songs can be loaded onto an app-enabled iPhone which then “tells” the LEDs what to do once it’s inserted into the dock.
The gTar has been three years in the making and is the brainchild of Incident CEO and co-founder, Idan Beck. With designing and prototyping now in the bag, the product is ready to hit the market and, judging by the success of its Kickstarter campaign last year, it’s set to create a storm: the campaign yielded 1,000 orders and $350,000.
Managing backer expectations
This took the company by surprise – it was expecting a few hundred orders but ended up with orders for five tons worth of gTars. But scaling up turned out to be relatively straightforward – Incidence has the gadget assembled in the Chinese tech capital, Shenzhen, by several highly experienced factories. Managing the expectations of backers has been a more complicated business, however.
Beck explains: “We got a lot of really, really mainstream backers, not early adopters. And the response they had was that they expected it to be commercial grade — something that you could put on the shelf and buy it ready-to-go. But the thing is that Kickstarter projects are still pre-production.”
Getting to commercial grade
The product needed a number of refinements before it could make the grade as a commercially viable piece of kit. These included making the strings more sensitive so that they’d respond to ordinary guitar picks, easing the process of getting firmware upgrades by using removable cartridges (who wants to send the whole instrument back?) and increasing developer access. More iPhone apps can now be built for the gTar as a result.
The key, says Beck, “is to grow at a pace that you can control.”
The gTar retails at $399. Is that the sound of an online stampede?