UK entrepreneur strikes investment chord with musical ed-tech toy, Soundbops

A building block play set designed to encourage children to learn to play musical instruments has surged past its funding goal of £30,000 on Kickstarter.

Called Soundbops, the educational toy has piqued the interest of not only the general public via the crowdfunding site – amassing 143 per cent of its goal to reach £44,777 with days still remaining – but a number of serious investors, too.

The project is the brain child of UK tech entrepreneur, Michael Tougher, winner of the Royal Academy of Engineering Launchpad Competition in 2016 with Soundbops, an educational toy that simplifies music education through note-based building blocks.

The concept already caught the attention of a Belgian investor, Meusinvest and its LeanSquare intiative before going live on the crowdfunding platform. The interest from the firm specialising in supporting start-ups of the ‘new economy’ led to a €50,000 investment.

Now with his first customers secured through the Kickstarter platform, Tougher will finalise the manufacturing and attract further investment to bring Soundbops to market for Christmas 2018.

Soundbops aims to simplify the process of learning an instrument while retaining the crucial elements of musical notation and rhythm. It is made up of a speaker, a board with 16 slots spread across four rows and a full set of notes that can be put in any order into the slots. Notes can be pressed to play a sound and stacked to create a chord.

“Soundbops is in the final stages of design and is very close to being market ready,” said Tougher. “Thanks to the investement from Meusinvest and LeanSquare, and the Kickstarter platform, we will be able to create an initial customer base for the first batch of the product, delivered in time for Christmas 2018.

“With this established, we will be able to showcase Soundbops’ ability to bring the joy of music to young children, and to grow to empower all children all over the world to learn and love music.”

In addition to his investment, part of Tougher’s Royal Academy of Engineering Launchad prize handed the entrepreneur The JC Gammon Award, comprising a £15,000 injection and membership of its Enterprise Hub, helping start ups build skills and contacts crucial to success.

José Zurstrassen, president of LeanSquare, said: “Soundbops is an ideal investment for us – it takes an age-old problem and attempts to solve it using digital tools and innovative engineering and design.

“Its simplicity belies a complex design process undertaken by Michael that has seen no less than eight prototypes developed. This foundation of smart engineering is a major reason why LeanSquare is backing and believe in Soundbops as a successful product.

“Another reason is the size of the market for such tools in the education sector; the audience for this is potentially huge thanks to the current influx of digital technologies into classrooms and so Soundbops is entering at just the right time.

“With a final design nearing completion and a Kickstarter campaign securing market share, Michael’s innovative engineering will no doubt take the ed-tech market by storm.”