Iceland Venture Studio is leading a syndicate investment through Funderbeam in Mussila. If you are interested in music and education technology you should look into what the team at Mussila has been building for the past 5 years. I am inspired to be able to decentralize how someone learns music, I have always been a consumer of music but never took the time to learn. You can download their iOS App here and Android App here.

Today, technology enables anyone, anywhere to take the time and learn hard skills like music. I wanted to do a deep dive into our methods i.e. how do we make decisions on choosing to work with founders. Since I invest in seed/pre-seed stage there is no data or metrics to hang your decisions on you need to believe in the founders, the team and the problem that they are going after. This is not the path for the faint of heart (no pun intended due to my own condition! ūüôā) That being said, I think breakthrough companies can be built if we work on hard problem with some guiding principles. Here is the deep dive into Mussila’s answers to the 7 questions that we ask founders to answer. I think it beehoves any founder working on a startup to answer these questions because it will clearly show you where you need to spend time working on. Everyone thinks funding will solve all these problems, the truth cannot be further from that. Funding is important and you need to solve that problem but that is not the most important problem to be solved. I will repeat this until I turn blue (again no pun intended).

1. The Engineering Question  

Can you create a breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?  

Yes, we can! Our mission is to revolutionize how music is learned and taught, both at home and at  school. We have developed Mussila Music School, a music learning environment for children aged  5-11 that applies research-based music education methodology to gamified adventures. The App  

has shown excellent product-market fit, with a conversion rate of over 8% and excellent reviews from  educational authorities and customers. We want to expand our product range to cover the  educational sector’s needs, which has demanded solutions for homeschooling since the COVID  pandemic broke out. 

We have engineered multi-platform competing solutions for music teaching using advanced  technology standards. Mussila features include but are not limited to MIDI technology, music  notation, live tone and clap recognition, NoSQL cloud database, analytics, e-mail reports,  notifications, deep-links, and live A-B tests. 

 Mussila Techstack: 

2. The Timing Question  

Is now the right time to start your particular business?  

Now is the perfect timing for the market uptake of Mussila, the complete EdTech solution for music  education in schools. Educational systems are changing to adapt to the age of digital native  students. Before the digital age, a series of music textbooks was the foundation of primary music  education, a custom dating early nineteenth-century methodologies. The general music program still  maintains this model in the elementary school levels. However, this current age of digital natives  brings in a need to transform the educational system to supplement traditional pedagogy. Digital  tools for music education can employ Technology as a learning tool, evaluative assistant, multi-media  resource, and curriculum developer.  

There is a growing demand for excellence in music education and digital tools to teach it. Realising  the untapped potential of music education, in the last six years, Education Ministries in Europe have  implemented programs supporting accessible music education for everyone, for example:  

‚óŹ France has funded public school choirs. 

‚óŹ The UK has favoured creating specialised “Music Hubs” linked to 87% of public schools  

‚óŹ In the BENELUX, state-funded projects like PROPOSAL merge the use of ICT and music learning. ‚óŹ Heavily funded public music schools can be found in Scandinavia, Belgium, and Germany.  

Moreover, in our survey that members from Mussila did over the summer (2020), amongst music  teachers 75% of them already use music apps or digital tools in the classroom, and 40% pay for  them themselves. Nevertheless, they find no single holistic tool that adapts to each country’s  curriculum targeting young children. 

COVID highlighted the need for digital resources to engage homeschooled kids. The importance of  digital learning was evident during the lockdown caused by COVID early this year. We received  requests from several schools to adapt our system to school use, and our downloads increased 57%,  with paying customers almost multiplying by four led by customers coming from countries where  schools were closed (IT, ES, FR)  

Internally, our enterprise is well-positioned to enter the school market: We have developed a  methodology that has achieved excellent test results and has been validated by experts (Education  Alliance Finland). We have Mussila successfully in the global consumer market, acquired the  confidence and support of experts and families, and requested that schools develop Mussila School  Edition specifically for remote and school learning.  

3. The monopoly question  

Are you starting with a significant share of a small market? 

We are starting with a significant share of a fast-growing market! In Mussila, we teach Music  Theory, and we focus on teaching children aged 6-10. We believe we are the best in the field  when it comes to teaching children Music Theory through a digital solution. 

Music Theory is a major obstacle when it comes to motivation. Most children quit music studies  because they find traditional music methods, boring and demotivating. With our game-based  solution in Music Teaching, we offer a solution to that problem.  

The EdTech Market 

The game-based learning segment within the EdTech market is the fastest-growing: it is sky rocketing at a CAGR 2018-2023 of 37.1%. With a 3.14b EUR market value in 2018 (2.30% of the  Ed Tech market), it is expected that by 2023 the educational gaming market will reach 15.43b  EUR, a 5.13% of the Ed Tech Market.  

We know that we have significant potential in the market, and we are often even named one of  the potential leaders. Mussila is the winner of the Nordic EdTech Award 2019. We have been  named one of the top 50 EdTech Nordic-Baltic EdTech companies. We were recently mentioned  one of the Top 10 EdTech Startups in Europe in 2020 at education technology insights.

4. The People Question

Do you have the right team? 

In Mussila, every team member brings his unique talent, and together we make a strong united  team! We are a team of artists, music educators, hardcore gamers, and business people who  bring domain knowledge and advanced teaching music to the global market.  We put creativity  at the core of our business, and every team member has a voice that is heard and can work with  and manage others when we start to scale up the team!  

CEO 

Jon Gunnar Thordarson: MBA Degree and BA in Directing. Jon Gunnar has produced, directed,  and written over 40 theatre productions in Iceland, UK, and Scandinavia. He can work with a  team and bring the best of every team member to maximise the companies capability. 

COO 

Hilmar √ě√≥r Birgisson has an MSC degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is the  mastermind behind the IT of Mussila. His passion is games, and he can teach and manage teams  in Technology.  

MUSICAL DIRECTOR 

Arnger√įur Mar√≠a √Ārnad√≥ttir. The Musical Director of Mussila and the holder of the Icelandic  Music Awards. Arnger√įur is a Choir director and a composer who brings the musical knowledge  needed to build Mussila!  

ART DIRECTOR 

√Ügir Ingvason has a BSc in Computer Science and is a graphic designer and animator. His visuals  and drawings are outstanding, and he is the man that draws the beautiful landscape of Mussila!  

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND SALES 

Adolf Bragason. He holds an MBA degree from Aarhus University in Denmark and an  International Business degree from Copenhagen Business School. His strength is finance and to  bring strategy to life. He is also an excellent team coach with a UEFA A coaching license in  football and has been a football trainer for many years.  

BACKEND PROGRAMMER 

Snorri Siemsen holds a BSC in Computer Science and has over ten years in software¬† development, diverse work experience. He does everything that you don’t see, all the magic¬† behind the imagery and music!¬†

5. The Distribution Question

Do you have a way not just to create but deliver your product? 

We have two distribution channels, one for our B2C version, another one for the B2B version.  

B2C 

Our app is available in 32 languages in 155 territories on the App Store and Google Play. Mussila has been featured as the App of the Day on App Store in over 30 countries. We were  also selected for the Google Family Link on Play Store. Most of the traction comes from organic  users that are searching for the top educational apps for kids. We also gain traffic from paid  advertising through social media. Our Cost Per Acquisition is over 20 $, and our goal is to get  the Cost per Acquisition under $10 before 2021. But we don‚Äôt put all our eggs in the same  basket. We are also building supply chains through partnerships. We started collaborating with  BuddyPhones, the world’s leading brand of volume-safe kids headphones, at the beginning of  2020. The two brands will collaborate on distributing the Mussila app when customers purchase  a pair of BuddyPhones headphones. If this partnership works well, we can partner up with other  products in the field, for example, Manufacturers of Instruments. We have also plans for the  Asian market and know that it is important to cooperate with a strong publisher or distributor.  Earlier this year NetEase published Mussila on their new Educational Platform in China. NetEase  Games is one of China‚Äôs largest video game producers and distributors and we have high hopes  for that collaboration. The platform is still in early testing and Mussila has already gained over  100 installs per day in the testing period. 

B2B 

In January 2021, we will launch the Mussila School Edition. Our Entrance Strategy for the School  market is to give schools in Birmingham and Aarhus in Denmark free access to our multiple  accounts solution. Why Birmingham and Arhus? Because they are the 2nd most large cities in the  UK and Denmark. We have already signed up schools in Birmingham and Aarhus for the pilot  project. Our mission is to get as many schools in these cities onboard, and from these cities, we  will spread out our brand awareness by sending them physical letters, emails, in Newsletters with  other brands, and through Social Influencers. Our free users will later convert into paying  subscribers. In the educational market it is important to collaborate with professionals in the field  that can influence schools to start to use our solution. Mussila will collaborate with the Symphony  Orchestra and the Reykjavik School District with the mission to make music education more  accessible to everyone. Through the School District we distribute our solution on a large level  with multiple accounts. If this model works, we plan to scale this strategy up in other cities,  starting in Birmingham, where the sister house to Harpa is, The Symphony Hall in Birmingham. 

6. The Durability Question 

Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?  

At Mussila, we have felt just how important music is as a field of study, as the skills developed in the  course of music have broad applications and support children’s success in most other areas. The  Mussila methodology teaches the essential elements of music theory through challenges and  exercises and can be applied to other academic subjects and fields of study. This opportunity brings  us to spin-off opportunities that Mussila School Edition can create for us over the next five years of  our product use.

Our technological solution generates value by building connections with parties that have direct  access to the market. Once the solution that is Mussila School Edition is distributed through the  partnerships that have been established, it will become possible to utilise the platform,  methodology, and distribution channels in a broader context.  

In 5-10 years, we can use the already-existing game engine to develop teaching materials in other  subjects, thereby making Mussila a creative solution in the natural sciences, for example. Our  methodology can be used in music education and in teaching math and coding to children worldwide. 

Today, however, it is not the time to expound about developing our product for other subjects; we  must first prepare it for use in the school system. However, we expect our work to become fully  sustainable in three years. At this point, it will be time to expand Mussila even further using the  interface already designed to teach subjects such as math and coding.  

Therefore we believe we can have a significant impact on the Educational System around the world!

7. The Secret Question  

Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?¬†¬†

Game-based tools have shown tremendous potential in education, especially for children with  special needs. They maintain engagement with students by presenting material in a fun and creative  way. 

Recently we have been hearing that Mussila can make a difference in Music Therapy with Autistic  Children. We started to collaborate with T√≥nstofa Valger√įar, who specialises in teaching music to  people with disabilities. She told us that she has been using Mussila in her teaching. Valger√įur told  us about her teaching method, and now we are implementing some of her techniques into Mussila.  With this collaboration, we have with Ingvar P√©tursson, former CFO of Nintendo, started talks with  Music Works in the USA. They specialise them-self in assisting families in managing their children’s  challenges through the use of music therapy. We want to elaborate on this unique opportunity to  make Mussila the best in teaching children on spectrum music. 

Mussila is proposing an education solution for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) based  on an advanced music-learning software platform. The system will utilise cutting edge research on  gamification techniques, focusing on content and controls specifically designed for children on the  autism spectrum. The envisioned product will improve communication skills, capacity to learn, and  music knowledge of the student. This will be accomplished by developing appropriate patterns that  

challenge the student without frustrating him/her. Importantly, it will be based on features that  bridge the gap between the virtual environment and the real-life environment by integrating steps  with the teacher. 

Educators using existing music learning tools have expressed anecdotal evidence that such learning  programs improve communication skills among students with autism. If successful, the software tool  and eventually a complete music learning application for schools will help ASD students develop  communication skills in a fun and engaging way. It will also serve as a valuable resource to teachers,  who currently devote a disproportionate amount of individual attention towards ASD students. 

When we develop our app focusing on autistic children, we create a world-class app for music¬† teaching, easy skill-building challenges, and reputation and gamification. This opportunity gives us a¬† competitive advantage; it doesn’t defocus the team; it goes all hand in and enables everyone to¬† learn music!¬†