This week’s “Member Of The Week” is MOD Devices. A company that has conceived a unique ecosystem for performing musicians that combines stage-ready computing platforms, open-source software and a social network to boost creative freedom.
MOD devices have an excellent sound and a constantly growing number of effects hof different plug-ins integrated. Live-musicians need no computer on the stage anymore and still have complete creative freedom with just a single device. A connected online forum allows musicians with developers to discuss and develop new ideas about product features. This results in new content on the platform on a daily basis.
We asked one of its founders Gianfranco Ceccolini a about his journey with MOD Decvices so far and what he would recommend other founders in musictech.
How did you come up with the idea for MOD Devices? Being a musician yourself, did you feel that there was a special need that led to developing the MOD products?
Yes. The idea came from dissatisfaction with the guitar effects gear. Pedals were too unpractical, multi-effects were too constricted or complicated and using a computer in the stage was simply a no-go for me as it is for most musicians.
I then decided to work on a solution that would bring me what I considered positive in each category and at the same time would not have the hurdles from the existing options. In the end, the resulting solution became something far more interesting I initially imagined.
The MOD ecosystem primarily relies on an open-source infrastructure. Where did you get the idea of working with the open-source community? Have there been specific challenges in working within an open-source environment? Where do you see the biggest advantages?
Adopting open-source is the only intelligent way to go because the number of fantastic creations from independent developers readily available beats any individual effort. The strength of this community is tremendous and the quality of their work is only rising. Our role in this story is to foster more and better creations, as well as giving means for these creative coders to bring their work to more people and eventually even monetize it.
From the initial idea to where MOD Devices is now, what have been the biggest challenges for your company along the way. How did you assemble your team and how easy or difficult was it to get funding/investors for MOD Devices?
Developing the hardware and the MOD platform are major undertakes. Our devices do things no other competitors can do and as a consequence, they are very complex beasts. But that’s the path of innovation. If it was easy someone would have done it before.
The team building is the second biggest challenge for two reasons. Sometimes the open-source mindset wrongfully clashes with the profit-driven mindset. And the coolness and potential of the product often blur the size of the challenge, so managing these expectations within the team is a daily task.
You just set up a crowd-investing campaign on seedmatch . Why did you choose crowd-investing and what are the next steps for MOD Devices if you succeed with the campaign?
We’ve already relied on crowdfunding before with the Kickstarter of the MOD Duo and thus, it is somehow part of our DNA. As a founder, I consider the crowd-investment a great way to avoid having to play the “investors game” or, at least, give us leverage to enter such game, It is a more direct and transparent way of raising funds.
A successful campaign would enable us to have the proper muscles to insert the brand new Duo X in the market, work on a new entry-level product and open two new major markets.
What 3 tools, resources, other apps etc. do you use daily?
Our company relies on the Google Business solutions, Slack and Asana in order to have a functioning workspace where more than half of the team is working on a remote basis.
Do you have a musical listening tip (song or video) or a favorite podcast about music tech for the community?
Vulfpeck. Not only it is my favorite current band, but also the best example of how, in the 21st century, you can be an artist able to fund your albums and sell out venues like Madison Square Garden without having an agent nor a label. It is all about community building and good musicianship.
Finally, as “senior” startup founder, what’s your tip for our community to motivate them to found their own venture? And which advice would you share with young company founders?
The world is there to be taken by anyone, so find your passion and do it. There are no chosen ones but rather the ones who choose to.
But be aware that with a tech-only effort you will most likely fail. The business and marketing mindsets are indispensable from day one. I learned this the hard way.