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 ROLI – A Startup Pushing The Boundaries Of Making Music

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Music is a very important part of people’s lives.  Different individuals have different tastes and different genres which they like.  However, everyone will agree music, as an art, uplifts emotions as well as the quality of life.  Music is constantly evolving by adapting to technologies prevalent in the current times, with a variety of new musical instruments like the hang drum, cajon and electric guitars, to name a few, coming out.

There is a startup reinventing and redefining the boundaries of what a piano can do—ROLI.  This startup combines the science of computers and music to come up with products which integrate technology and sound.

Beginnings

ROLI was founded in 2009 by pianist Roland Lamb while he was a graduate student at London’s famous Royal College of Art.  He was heavily influenced by saxophonists and guitarists as they modulate the sound any way they want by increasing or decreasing the pitch and tonality of a sound.  Roland Lamb decided the piano could not replicate the range of sounds a guitar could and started working on his first product called the ROLI Seaboard.

The Seaboard is a digital instrument.  Its design is based on the piano and is made up of an intuitive silicone structure.  It is meant to be played like a normal keyboard or piano, but with the addition of gestures meant to modulate the sound output.  Sliding a finger between the keys of the Seaboard changes the pitch, similar to a stringed instrument like an electric guitar.  Volume and vibrato notes can be modulated by using a controller which is integrated into the Seaboard. Utilities like these are what sets it apart from the traditional piano and similar instruments.  

Growth

Since the release of the first Seaboard in 2013, ROLI has launched Blocks and an app named Noise.  While the Seaboard is modelled based on the piano, launching it was a hassle as there was no other product out in the market which was similar to the Seaboard.  So, ROLI went ahead and created a community of their product users. This was the reason why it was modelled around the piano as it offered a familiarity for users to draw upon their past experiences of using the instrument.  ROLI relied on well known musicians to use their products to help with their growth. Artists and acclaimed music composers like Hans Zimmer, A.R. Rahman, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder use ROLI products.

Musician Pharrell Williams invested in the startup and took up an executive position as the Chief Creative Officer at ROLI.

ROLI gained popularity over the years as more and more artists adopted its usage in creating music.  This unique startup, which has both music composers and software engineers working and collaborating side by side, aims to push the boundaries of creating music as far as it can.

Watch the Game of Thrones theme being performed on a Seaboard:

Read about how Gotham Greens is redefining farming: Gotham Greens; A Startup Using Urban Farming To Supply Fresh Produce

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Iconic Power Couples At The Top Of Their Game

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Corporations run the world in ways like never before.  They provide technology, healthcare, innovation and development across the world.  Some of these corporations are headed by influential leaders who changed the course of technology and quality of life over the years.  The head of the corporation may be a man or a woman, but it is no secret that what they achieved can be credited to their special someone as well.

Let us have a look at some of the most prominent power couples at the top of their game.

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates run the world’s biggest private foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Bill Gates founded one of the world’s largest software companies, Microsoft. He decided to dedicate his life to philanthropy and with his wife, he started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Bill Gates pursues issues related to climate change, while Melinda Gates’s focus is on gender equality. In an interview, Melinda Gates revealed it is important to have a spouse who views you as an equal, a quality which she credits to Bill Gates and their successful marriage.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg runs Facebook, one of the largest technology companies in the world.  It is no secret Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who is a pediatrician, were already in love before Facebook launched.  Priscilla Chan was one of the earliest users of Facebook when it was just starting out as an online social networking platform.  A day after Facebook went public, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan got married. Soon after Facebook became one of the largest technology companies in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to promote equality in the fields of health, education, scientific research and technology.

Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy

Narayana Murthy is the founder of Infosys, one of India’s largest information technology companies.  However, Narayana Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy are most often known for the simple and humble lifestyle they follow.  An interesting piece of information is they met through a mutual friend, G.K Prasanna, who is now the global head of Wipro.  Sudha Murthy dedicated her life to social causes and was a trustee at Infosys Foundation, a position she used to establish libraries and offer scholarships to students.  Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy are an inspiration to many even today and their love for each other has not diminished over the years.

Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher

Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher are the founders of the iconic apparel brand GAP.  Initially, Donald Fisher leased out some space to Levi Strauss & Co. to sell their jeans.  Donald then realised Levi’s only had a limited number of sizes in their line up and saw the need to open a store which carried all styles and sizes under one roof.  Donald and Doris Fisher opened their own store named GAP. The concept was a success and soon after, GAP filed for an IPO. Before Donald Fisher’s demise in 2009, Donald and Doris Fisher were active in philanthropy in educational areas of interest.

The above mentioned couples remind us the world is a better place because of love.  Let us know about any other power couples who inspired you!

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Best Valentine’s Day Campaigns Run By Famous Brands

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Best Valentine’s Day Campaigns, Famous Brands Valentine’s Day Campaigns, Featured, Latest Business News 2020, Marketing Campaigns, startup stories, Top Brands Marketing Campaigns 2020, Valentine’s Day Brand Campaigns, valentine’s day campaigns 2020, Valentine’s Day 2020, valentines campaigns 2020

With Valentine’s Day right round the corner, every brand and organisation is scrabbling to have a strategy in place to increase their brand visibility and awareness.  Needless to say, the advent of technology and digital platforms gave us some unique campaigns over the years. Some simple, some extravagant, but each one of them special because they all came together to celebrate love.

Let us have a look at some memorable Valentine’s Day campaigns we witnessed over the recent years.

1. Cadbury

Cadbury is a brand known all over the world mainly due to their bestselling chocolate, the humble Dairy Milk.  It comes as no surprise Cadbury decided to theme their Valentine’s Day 2018 promotions around chocolate. The campaign, ‘Pop Your Heart Out With Silk,’ aimed to celebrate love in all forms.  For the campaign, Cadbury released exclusive Dairy Milk Silk chocolates which had a heart shaped chocolate piece which could just be nudged out. The chocolate is a part of a gift hamper which contained two such Dairy Milk Silk bars and two Dairy Milk Silk Oreo bars, a customised greeting card and a photo frame.

Watch the video to know more about the campaign.

 

2. Dunkin’ Donuts

One of the world’s favourite desserts, the unassuming donut, also got a campaign of its own for Valentine’s Day 2017.  Whether it is simply glazed, sprinkled or with toppings, the donut comes in many shapes and forms. Leading donut chain Dunkin’ Donuts did a campaign themed around Valentine’s Day by creating a contest named ‘Dunkin’ Love.’  The campaign urged users to show their love for the brand by sharing photos of the brand on Instagram. Lucky winners had the chance to win a year’s worth of free coffee, donuts and a cash prize of $ 2,500. The campaign also made use of geolocation so that exclusive Valentine’s Day content could be viewed at Dunkin’ Donuts’ stores.  This year, Dunkin’ Donuts is running a campaign named #ValentinesDaySweepstakes, where anyone can tag a friend with the hashtag to get a chance to win a year’s worth of free donuts.

3. Uber

Taxi hailing giant Uber did their own version of a Valentine’s Day campaign by branding it ‘Romance on Demand.’  Uber has its own creative ways of running campaigns. For example, on Pride Day, Uber changed the colour of the car icon on its app to a rainbow colour theme.  However, for Valentine’s Day 2013, Uber turned into a rose delivery service. Users could just log into the Uber app to request a bouquet of roses, which were delivered to their special someone’s address by a driver in a suit.  Although the service was expensive and was priced anywhere between $ 100-150, it became popular and encouraged app downloads. In the year 2016, Uber teamed up with the Kisses brand of Hershey’s to run a campaign named #UberSerenade.  Users could request a serenade for their loved ones, wherein a person would go to the address given and sing songs about love.

4. Coca-Cola

In 2015, the iconic brand, with its red and white colour theme, came up with a very unique Valentine’s Day campaign which aimed at getting people to interact with and get to know strangers at bus stops.  Two consecutive bus stops were set up with screens, cameras and a mic. People could see who is at the other bus stop and interact with them. The distance between the bus stops offered safety and was intended to make people shed inhibitions and converse with strangers.  The people who interacted were in for a shock when the person with whom they interacted got onto the bus at the next stop. However, the conversations resumed once they greeted each other.

Watch the video here.

5. Starbucks

Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee brand, created a fun campaign for Valentine’s Day 2015.  Starbucks partnered up with Match.com, the United States of America’s leading matchmaking platform, to run a campaign.  A feature named ‘Meet At Starbucks’ was added to Match.com and users could use this feature to send out an invitation for a coffee date.  Users who clicked the button could email each other and meet up at a nearby Starbucks.

We hope these campaigns made for a fun read.  With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, let us know of any other fun campaigns like these which make for a good read about marketing strategies.

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Emerging Startup Stories

Ather Energy – Delivering India’s First Smart and Electric Scooter

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More often that not, innovations in India lean towards the e commerce or service sectors, with multiple startups springing up in these avenues.  In a world which is increasingly becoming conscious about greenhouse emissions, carbon footprints and renewable energy, corporations like Tesla and Nissan are at the forefront of innovation to tackle the aforementioned issues.

However, a scrappy startup from India named Ather Energy is looking to change the game in the Indian market with their smart scooter, the Ather 450.  This scooter is completely electric and runs on a Lithium ion battery. Considering India is the world’s biggest market for two wheelers, this startup aims to make inroads into the market by educating the public about the benefits of using an electric vehicle.

Beginnings

Ather Energy was founded by Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013, both of whom are alumni of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM.)  Before starting Ather Energy, they worked at Ashok Leyland and General Motors respectively, both of which are automakers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Mehta and Swapnil decided to venture into the automotive industry with Ather Energy.

After leaving their jobs, the duo returned to their alma mater (IITM) to work on an efficient Lithium ion battery pack, which in turn paved the way to their first product, the Ather-S340.  This vehicle had a digital touchscreen dashboard, a light chassis and the capability to reach speeds upto 75 kmph.

Funding and growth

Starting up in uncharted territories is no easy task and requires funding as well.  The same was the case with Ather Energy as they had no resources to begin with, especially working in the laboratories of IITM.  However, as luck would have it, Ather Energy received a grant of Rs. 45 lakhs from the Technology Development Board under the Department of Science and Technology, IITM.

Most of the initial funding went towards testing and funds became short once again.  With investors not willing to take a risk with Ather Energy, Mehta and Swapnil turned to Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the founders of Flipkart.  Ather Energy got its first major funding from the Bansal brothers in the form of a million dollar investment.

Ather Energy’s biggest break came in 2015, when venture capital firm Tiger Global invested 12 million dollars.  This funding allowed the founders to invest in developing, testing, producing and launching their first electric scooter, the Ather-S340.

However, when the Ather-S340 was released in the market, it saw low demand, with customers showing interest in the Ather 450, a higher powered and premium offering.  This led to Ather Energy discontinuing the entry level offering Ather-S340 and instead working on the Ather 450.

Read about: How Carlos Ghosn shaped Nissan

The future

Hero MotoCorp, an Indian scooter/motorcycle manufacturer, was looking to make inroads into the electric vehicle industry.  Therefore, the Company invested 30 million dollars to own a 30 % stake in Ather Energy and also to work on their own line up of electric bikes.  This partnership is mutually beneficial as Hero MotoCorp can leverage Ather’s homegrown technology and participate in the electric vehicle space as well as pursue their internal program.  Ather Energy, on the other hand, can utilise Hero MotoCorp’s distribution network.

Ather Energy also opened experience centers, which are basically spaces which educate people and customers about electric vehicles and also provide holistic interactive experiences.  Ather Energy also has plans to open experience centers in tier 1 cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai. Currently, these experience centers are limited to Chennai and Bangalore.

Ather Energy also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tamil Nadu Government to set up a factory capable of producing 100,000 units of vehicles.  This is in addition to the already existing 25,000 unit capacity plant operational in Bengaluru.

The Indian Government is also taking electric vehicles seriously and it reflected in the Budget for 2019 when the Government slashed the Goods and Services Tax on electric vehicles from 12 % to 5 %.

Ather Energy’s latest models, the Ather 450 and the Ather 450X, are seeing a lot of demand from customers, with steady pre orders rolling in.  Ather Energy, with its smart screen technology which has regular Over the Air (OTA) updates, aims to enhance the user experience.

The Ather 450 has features like navigation, reverse gear, fast charging upto 80 % at 1 km per minute and retails at a price of Rs. 1,23,230 in Bangalore.

It will be great to see Ather Energy’s products on Indian streets as the awareness amongst the Indian public regarding the various benefits of electric vehicles increases.

 

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