Get All Access for $5/mo

What You Can Learn from the Startup that Pulled Piano Lessons into the Internet Age Skoove is proving itself as a great example of how to carve out success in the booming education market.

By Susan Solovic Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


A lot of parents reading this have suffered through childhood piano lessons. They may have been required to take them when they were younger, and/or they may have made their children go through the ritual.

I don't want to give private piano lessons a bad rap here. I've played piano virtually all my life and performed Chopin's "Fantaisie-Impromptu" when I was Miss Missouri in the Miss America Pageant. However, I know that many youngsters find piano lessons a chore and I also know that later in life many adults wish they had studied piano, or tried harder when they had lessons in their youth.

One of the best things about technology today is that it can help us learn things that we missed earlier in life. Technology does this by making learning more convenient and less expensive. Sometimes it can also customize content delivery in ways that better suit our individual learning styles.

Image Credit: Skoove

In fact, I think one of the most exciting areas today is in learning technology, or e-learning. You can't watch television without seeing a commercial for an online university, for example.

One of the newest and best examples in this area is Skoove, an online and very tech-savvy piano-teaching system. I think it can get more kids playing piano and also fulfill the dreams of many adults by providing them with a convenient way to learn fundamental piano skills.

Related: How Small Business Can Beat the Global Megacorporations Today

For the kids, working with a computer and Internet connection is probably more in line with how they prefer to spend their time. For adults, being able to learn piano in the privacy of their homes and whenever they have the time are major selling points.

"Sixty-one percent of the people in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany would like to learn a musical instrument, but currently only a fraction actually do. With Skoove, we hope to make that dream a reality for anyone with access to a computer and a desire to learn," says Dr. Florian Plenge, Skoove's co-founder and CEO.

I've checked out the technology and it works well. You need an electronic keyboard and it must have either a USB or MIDI interface so it can be connected to the computer you'll be using. Setup was simple for my MIDI and I ran through a few of the introductory lessons. (A version that works with an acoustic piano is in development.)

You get your instructions from the computer screen. It illustrates what you have to do and then you basically follow along. The software is able to measure how you're doing so it can help you pace your progress.

Image Credit: Skoove

"We have designed Skoove to combine the best elements of a live tutor – giving real time feedback and adapting to the student – with all the convenience of the web, being available anywhere 24/7, and at a fraction of the price," Plenge says.

In fact, you can take the teaching system on a pretty decent test drive without having to pay anything or even input your credit card – which is something I really appreciate in online commerce.

Skoove has a good deal of backing. It came out of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator and recently completed a seed funding round with the largest German early stage fund, the High Tech Gründerfonds. I mention this because teaching/learning/information-sharing is one of the most solid industry areas in the world of startups.

Related: How Startups and Legacy Companies Can Both Cash In on Market Trends

Not everyone will get the high-level of support that Skoove has received, but virtually anyone can develop teaching materials online and find a market for them. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What's my special area of knowledge?
  • What have I been successful at?
  • What do I love doing?

The answer to any of these can give direction for developing an online business built around knowledge you have, or knowledge that you will work hard to gather.

You don't need to develop sophisticated software like Skoove. I recently heard how a local martial arts instructor created a very successful online business by selling videos that demonstrated specific self-defense tactics. He said his first videos were very crude, but sold well nonetheless.

And even in music, less high-tech strategies work. I know some musicians who supplement their incomes by offering lessons via Skype. Further, many of them even leverage Craigslist to help them find students. There's nothing too difficult in that.

So, does the Skoove story strike a note with you? Are you ready for piano lessons, or are you even more ready to put together your own course and start selling it?

Related: Why Generous Paid Time Off Policies Pay Off for Employers

Susan Solovic

THE Small Business Expert, Award-winning entrepreneur, New York Times bestseller, keynote speaker, media personality and attorney.

Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert.  An award-winning entrepreneur and Internet pioneer, she founded one of the first video-based websites and grew it to a multi-million dollar enterprise.  The company was recognized as the Best Investment Opportunity in the Silicon Valley in 2006 by a venture forum group.  She is a sought-after keynote speaker, New York Times bestseller, media personality and popular blogger.  Her experience provides her with a unique vantage point from which to inform and inspire entrepreneurs around the globe.


Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.

Business News

Joey Chestnut Is Going From Nathan's to Netflix for a Competition 15 Years in the Making

Chestnut was banned from this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest due to a "rival" contract. Now, he'll compete in a Netflix special instead.


Are Your Business's Local Listings Accurate and Up-to-Date? Here Are the Consequences You Could Face If Not.

Why accurate local listings are crucial for business success — and how to avoid the pitfalls of outdated information.

Money & Finance

Day Traders Often Ignore This One Topic At Their Peril

Boring things — like taxes — can sometimes be highly profitable.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.