Power Pitch

Smart guitar strikes a new chord

Smart guitar strikes a new chord

Tech start-up Zivix has found an innovative way to string along guitar novices — with a new set of strings.

"The Jamstik+ is the easiest way to learn how to play guitar," said Chris Heille, Zivix's music product specialist.

Founder Dan Sullivan told CNBC he wanted to create an instrument to help people learn to play the guitar. His inspiration: watching avid Guitar Hero fans — who clearly loved playing — walk away not knowing what to do with the real thing.

But unlike Guitar Hero, Zivix does not consider its Jamstik+ a toy. The start-up says its small, wireless controller works like any string guitar, and connects to iPhones and iPads via Bluetooth.

The company's jamTutor app uses patented technology that tracks where the user's fingertips touch the screen. The app offers interactive videos and, according to the Zivix, the Jamstik+ also works with more than 400 other apps.

The Jamstik+ is currently only compatible with Apple products, but Android versions are in the works.

Behind the music

Zivix’s jamstik+
Source: Zivix

The Jamstik costs $299 online at Jamstik.com and at major retailers such as Apple, Amazon and Brookstone.

Jamstik+'s price tag isn't exactly music to everyone's ears. Angel investor Nat Burgess was concerned about the guitar's hefty price, noting that less expensive products with the same end goal are already on the market.

Heille, however, defended the price. "It is a music instrument that has value, and we're positioning it with iOS systems, so if you are already in the iPad market, this is not your traditional 'appcessory,'" he said.

David Wu, a bass player and venture capitalist at Maveron, wondered if the Jamstik+ aims to replace the guitar.

According to the start-up, the traditional guitar is still safe. "People are really excited to play the guitar, and we are just excited about doing what our users are telling us they want to do," Heille said.

Since launching its Jamstik+ in 2013, Minneapolis-based Zivix has sold more than 6,000 units. Jamstik+ is manufactured in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The start-up would not disclose its revenue, but Zivix said it recently became profitable.

Zivix has raised approximately $10 million since its launch in 2007. This includes fundraising from the Jamstik+'s Kickstarter campaign, which closed in May. The start-up declined to share the names of additional investors.

CNBC's Kelly Lin contributed to this report.

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