254
6 min 13 sec

Getting Investors Amped Just Takes a Little Jamming

A Toronto science teacher creates an attachable guitar amplifier that pairs with a smartphone, raising more than $250,000 and appearing on Dragon’s Den.
Crowdfunding International Manufacturing Music Product

What It's About

A Canadian teacher with a penchant for Lego robotics helps others get amped up!

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Engineering & Design
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Chris has some advice to people wanting to hit the right notes for product-based businesses: he recommends that they draw a line from where they are now to where an investor would look at their ideas and say “Wow, there’s a product and a plan!” and go from there.

Fun Fact

The first efforts to make acoustic guitars louder began in the 1880s, prompted by quiet acoustics not being heard in concert hall settings. Hawaiian musicians made one of the first big advances with “lap” steel guitars in the 1920s, soon paired with amplifiers. The advance in the early 1930s of electronic pickups under the strings, sending a signal to the amp, gave us the breakthrough that makes us turn up (or turn down) Metallica today.

Notes from Chris

Episode 254
How often do I talk about getting investors for your idea? Approximately never. Today’s story, however, fits the side hustle way: it’s about a Toronto science teacher and musician who creates an attachable guitar amplifier that pairs with a smartphone for producing sweet sounds...and cash.

Anyone who plays in a band called Death Valley Yacht Club and also teaches kids how to make Lego robots is by nature an interesting and curious person. So it’s not surprising that Chris Prendergast created the JamStack, a lightweight, easily attached guitar amplifier that works with a smartphone.

Chris had grown increasingly frustrated with the effort and hassle of setting up amps and other equipment whenever he wanted to play electric guitar. Because of his teaching duties, where he shows kids how to build Lego Robotics, he’s comfortable tinkering with electronics, particularly music-making electronics.

The tinkering led to a side hustle: Chris created a modular amp that fits on the bottom of guitars that includes a mount for a smartphone as well and cables for both.

He launched an Indiegogo campaign which surpassed $250,000 in pre-orders and the device is now being manufactured in China.

Chris hasn’t relied on a single platform or venue to get the word out though—just before Indiegogo, he won $10,000 in the Canadian Music Week Start Up Launch Pad pitch competition granting him one-on-one access to industry executives, including venture capitalists, publishing rights lawyers and record company officials. He also pitched JamStack to Dragon’s Den, the original Shark Tank, for an episode that will be released this fall. He learned a good deal about pitching to investors from that experience.

Chris’s future is harmonious and in tune: even though he’s busy with order fulfillment and being careful with cash flow, Chris and his team are also twanging out ideas for both new hardware and software. There will be a new version of JamStack in the offing, perhaps propelled by the additional investment the company is seeking, hopefully, augmented by the upcoming Dragon’s Den TV spot.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • JamStack: There's a lot more than meets the eye with this portable amp—learn more on Chris' website!
  • Cortex Design & Crowdfunding Uncut: Two of the resources that Chris used to get his project designed and launched on crowdfunding platforms
  • Indiegogo | JamStack: The crowdfunding platform that helped Chris raise over $250,000 for JamStack
  • Dragon’s Den: A Canadian television reality show where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business and investment ideas in the hope of securing business financing and partnerships
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I think if you’ve got a great idea you can really defend, and that fire of reflective confidence in your eye, people believe in you and want to help you. I started touring innovation hubs, visited design firms, entered pitch contests, and found partners that supported my dream."
—Chris Prendergast #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau