When London based start-up ROLI started selling its unique Seaboard GRAND music keyboard demand was so great that there are waiting lists of up to a year. Today they company announced $12 USD million in series A funding to scale production and expand globally.
The Rodi allows keyboard players to "bend" notes, much like a guitar player bends guitar strings. (video below). Hailed as “the piano of the future” by CNN, the Seaboard GRAND has also won multiple awards, including the SXSW Music Accelerator in 2013, and more recently the product category of the Design Museum's 2014 Design of the Year Award.
The $12.8 million (£7.6m) Series A round, one of the largest ever for a music hardware company, was led by Balderton Capital (investors in LoveFilm and Kobalt Music Group), alingside FirstMark Capital (Pinterest and Shopify), Index Ventures (Sonos and SoundCloud) and Universal Music. Daniel Waterhouse from Balderton and Amish Jani from FirstMark join the Rodi board of directors.
Creator, founder and Roli CEO Roland Lamb followed an untraditional path to founding a tech company. He studied Classical Chinese and Sanskrit Philosophy at Harvard, lived in a Zen monastery in Japan, and worked as a gigging jazz pianist. Lamb invented the Seaboard in 2009 while studying design at the Royal College of Art, and developed a working prototype in before receiving the first angel funding in 2012.