Sometimes venture capital investors just can’t turn their backs completely on a technology that they believe in so much – even when a company goes belly up. Such is the case of Intersouth Partners and its support of Zenph Sound Innovations.
The tech wizards at Zenph, led by John Walker who was a founder of Ganymede Software, developed software that can recreate musical performances down to the foot pedal pressure. But the venture, which drew support from such legends as Quincy Jones, recently went under.
Out of the Zenph shutdown, however, a new company was born – with rights to the technology and a new focus: Developing an online music community and delivery of lessons.
Suzanne Cantando, the media relations executive for Intersouth, was unequivocal in her praise for the new Online Music Network, when asked why Intersouth chose to invest. The company has raised $900,000.
“We’ve invested in Zenph because we’re really excited about the market opportunity – this is a huge, untapped market – and the management team that’s leading it,” Cantando explained.
Katrin Burt of Intersouth sits on the new company’s board.
Kirk Owen is the chief executive officer and has been since June. He began working with Zenph last November as a consultant as the company, which had lost CEO Kip Frey (a former partner at Intersouth who left to lead Zenph) fought to stay alive.
The Skinny asked Owen a series of questions about OMN, which is based at the First Flight Venture Center in RTP and retains six employees.
Owen noted that the company is aiming to raise $2 million. He also acknowledged that Walker does not have a role with the company “at this point.”
So why did he decide to launch a new company based around the Zenph concept rather than move on to something else?
“The Zenph IP allows us to turn music into data,” Owen explained. “With this data we can leverage the power of the cloud to deliver enhanced music learning through accurate feedback, gamification and engagement tracking. Additionally, our new team’s expertise in consumer software, social media, music education and big data will help people play the music they love faster and with greater enjoyment.
“We do this in two ways:
“1. Help students find the teacher that is the perfect match for their abilities, interests and budget
“2. Revolutionize music learning by making it agile. By agile, we mean taking the traditional strengths of music instruction and making it more iterative, social, objective and outcome driven.
“The ZOEN will also help teachers and musicians enhance their businesses by providing the tools they need to become savvy marketers.”
The new venture was born from assets purchased when Zenph shut down, Owen added.
“Zenph Sound Innovations was wound down and the Zenph assets were auctioned off to a variety of entities and individuals. The new company, Online Music Network, Inc. (OMNI) purchased the name, IP and software code of Zenph Sound Innovations.”
A new business plan and new funding – will Walker’s invention prove to be a financial success this time? Intersouth is banking on it.
(Note: Capitol Broadcasting, the parent firm of WRAL Tech Wire, is an investor in the new company and was an investor in the original Zenph as well.)