British music start-up Roli files for bankruptcy – will reform as a luminary

Photo credit: Roli

British music technology startup Roli has filed for bankruptcy and will reform.

The company says its niche target market and the coronavirus pandemic have forced a reset. Pharrell and Grimes both supported the British music startup. some Roli products will live on thanks to Luminary, which is reborn from the ashes of Roli’s bankruptcy.

CEO and founder Roland Lamb has raised £ 5million to launch the restarted business, Luminary.

Roli’s 70 employees will move on to the new company, which closed a $ 6.85 million seed funding from Hoxton Ventures. Roli has raised $ 75.7 million from individuals and institutional investors, some of whom will lose their money as a result of bankruptcy. Roli was founded in 2009 by Lamb and set out to invent new musical instruments.

The company started with the Seaboard, released in 2016 and described as a piano for an alien spaceship. The startup then released BLocks, a modular system for connecting different Roli components to each other. In 2019, he launched Lumi Keys, described as “Guitar Hero” for teaching piano beginners.

“At the end of the day what happened was the pro-focused products that we initially developed, although they were successful in their market, the market was not large enough given our trajectory. company ”, Lamb Recount Inside the business community. “We had our eyes on hypergrowth, and it turned out to be difficult.”

In Roli’s financial records, the company reported pre-tax losses of £ 34.1million ($ 47million) on income of £ 11.4million ($ 16million). High costs were attributed to staff salaries, senior management hires and equipment manufacturing. Hardware accounted for 82% of Roli’s revenue over the 18-month period ending June 30, 2019. Documents show the company sold two parts of its software-focused business in 2020.

“A lot of VC money was pouring into hardware startups, but around 2016 that market dynamic really changed,” Lamb continues. “It became clear that the model that was going to be successful was more of a subscription / service-based model where hardware was an important component. “

Lamb says he hopes Luminary can rise from the ashes to become the “Piano Platoon” by focusing on helping beginners read and play music through the Lumi keyboard and the accompanying app.

Anne G. Cash

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