Finalists in the Sónar+D 2014 Start-up Competition, Conductr has taken part twice in Marketlab. The first time was in 2013 when their project was a promising app yet unreleased. In 2015 they came back teaming up with Cabosanroque. Conductr is a start-up from Barcelona currently growing in every sense – business, economic and creative. Sónar+D talked with Oriol Rosell about the history of Conductr, an app conceived to make the most of the iPad touch technology and allows you to control two of the most popular software applications of the music industry, Ableton Live and Traktor.
«Conductor was born in 2010 when Julià Carboneras and I (Oriol Rosell) set up a company called ‘Patchworks’. We both came from the musical composition, technology and performing arts, and we had worked together in several jobs. One day we decided to make our relationship official and we became a partnership. Then we had a bizarre idea, a project called ‘Conductr’, but it had nothing to do with our current Conductr. It was a project so crazy we couldn’t set it up because a million euro investment was required».
The original Conductr was a digital platform for downloading music in an audio file format that would provide individual tracks for each sound to be mixed live and then shared in a social network.
«We were not that wrong –says Rosell–. Nowadays this sort of audio format already exists and it’s called Stems and Splice. Anyway, we grabbed Sónar’s attention and it was even launched in Sao Paolo. We were about to carry it out without any investment, with nothing, just spending all the hours we could. We needed a developer for an iOS app, so we contacted Albert Minguell, a Multimedia Engineering undergraduate student in his final year in La Salle. One day Albert asked if he could show us his final project, and what he revealed was the germ of Conductr. We were shocked. We said: ‘That can be done and we don’t even need a million euro anymore’. We ceased everything we were doing and focused on the development of Conductr. So Albert became our partner».
Conductr was born with the aim of creating an Ableton Live controller for iPad completely focused on the user experience. All three founders of Conductr are musicians and Ableton Live users, and they were not pleased with the options currently on the market.
«All the apps for iPad were in a metaphorical design stage yet –explains Rosell–. When there’s a transition into a new medium, the appearance of the old one is usually imitated for people to get used to it. We considered that this stage was already over and it was time to create something 100% designed for iPad. One of our core ideas was that the app had to make sense for an iPad and not use it as a small computer screen. It has to represent a new kind of body language and interaction. We cannot just offer a virtual knob to the musicians – we had to offer an experience completely different from the regular hardware».
Developing an app is not an easy job. Once the application is finished, troubles never cease. «We have no business training. We were completely sure that we had an excellent app that wasn’t selling. We still are, indeed. Then we submitted our project to a competition to enter the first edition of Conector, a business accelerator located in Barcelona. There we were given useful advice. Our mentors helped us a lot and we learned so much. We are still learning. The Conductr business model is really scalable. It’s based on modules and the users do not make only one purchase but several different purchases using the app. There’s been over 125,000 free downloads so far and the conversion is really good».
The initial investment of Conductr came from an official grant from the Ministry of Industry of Spain and from a personal loan that all three founders applied for. As of today they have raised several investment rounds, one of 100,000 euros, another one of half a million euros and 100,000 more euros from the EU programme IMPACT. «We are so glad because we must be the first start-up in the world that is fulfilling its economic forecast».
Next December 5th Conductr will take part in Sónar+D Santiago de Chile featuring Cabosanroque: «Sónar+D is our natural place since the target audience is custom made. For what we do it’s the perfect environment: electronic music, technology and business. There is no other place where we could find more potential clients by square inch, and it’s great meeting users that come to see us. Networking is also very important and we try to talk with artists we are interested into. There’s a lot of improvisation, but at the end of the day everything works perfectly».
The last module of Conductr is called ‘Brandl‘, a drumpad for Ableton Live with an ergonomic mode that maps your hand and allows you to set a different sample on each finger. The research of Conductr to find all the possibilities that allows your iPad and put them at the disposal of the music composition and performance.