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Startup Club: OnlinePianist [COUPON FOR ONLINE PIANO LESSONS INSIDE]

Shalom Life speaks to Nimrod Cohen, CEO of OnlinePianist, the leading piano tutorial app that helps you learn how to play your favourite songs, from Rihanna to Mozart

By: Daniel Koren
Published: October 23rd, 2013 in Business » Israel
OnlinePianist screenshot

Speaking to him I pegged Cohen as a musician/piano virtuoso, until I asked how he recognized the need for such a tutorial that wasn't being offered in the marketplace.

"I actually do not come from a music background," he laughs. "I've dreamed of playing piano from a young age, but my parents sent me to play football [soccer] instead. When I realized I wasn't going to be Lionel Messi, I decided to follow my dream of learning music."

Cohen realized quickly that his realizing this dream would be no easy task.

"As I didn't want to pay for a teacher, many of my friends suggested learning via Youtube," says Cohen, "but I found it very boring, and non-intriguing. Then, my cousin Tal (a programmer and pianist) and I came up with the idea to make this Youtube process more accessible, make it animated."

From here, OnlinePianist quickly came to fruition. Unlike most (if not all piano tutorial apps out there), the new OnlinePianist app for iPad is only available for those individuals seriously invested in learning, a.k.a., people who actually own pianos or keyboards. "We know that many apps allow you to play on the screen itself, but we believe that if you really want to learn a song, you want to learn it the right way, and on an actual instrument," explains Cohen. "We don't give the option of playing on an iPad screen because our audience consists of people who genuinely want to learn. Playing on an iPad doesn't make you a pianist; playing a piano does."

Thus far, the app has been receiving positive reviews from the Apple community. Cohen notes that they are now looking to expand into Asia, Europe, and beyond, and also develop the app for Android users, and for the iPhone. "We have a lot of work ahead of us, and of course, a lot of new features ill be rolling out soon." One of which will allow the app to hear what you play at home, and provide you with feedback, essentially making the job of the piano teacher obsolete.


OnlinePianist currently has over 52,000 followers on Facebook, and a very loyal fanbase of piano aficionados. I ask Cohen how his company was able to rise to the top of a very competitive industry.

"We started as a bootstrap startup without deep pockets," Cohen says, "but were able to find our audience using unique marketing strategies. We found our target audience during the preliminary stage, and developed creative ways to reach out to them. We've been featured on GroupOn in the US, we've created partnerships with lyrics websites, and we're always looking for new ways to reach out to members of the community looking to learn piano."

The site version currently offers a free, basic membership, with unlimited access to all songs (but with only two of the thirteen features available), and then a premium (monthly or yearly) membership offers all features to their users. Downloading the new OnlinePianist iPad app is free; "you get six free songs upon logging in, and can get a free song for every three days that you log into the app," Cohen explains, meaning, basically, that you'd never have to pay for app. Or, for those of you looking to become virtuosos by next Friday, you can buy specific songs on the app individually.

As for monetization, "we try to keep our products as clean as possible form advertising so we hardly have ads on the site," says Cohen. "We've only started raising capital for the site now, before this, we were bootstrapping this company, putting in our own money and learning from our business model. For the iPad app, many of our loyal users invested their own money to help us develop it."

For any piano nerds out there looking to invest in a business venture, look no further.

Related articles: Startup Club, Apple, Android, Online Pianist, Technology News, Piano Tutorial, Piano
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