Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta, co-founder & CEO of Newzik tells us about the collaborative web & iOS platform to learn, practice & perform with digital scores.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: I’m doing good thanks for asking. My family is OK, although we went through difficult times and severe hospitalizations, they, fortunately, all recovered.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Newzik.
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: I am a music lover with a business background. I have always wanted to combine these two areas in my professional life. Life made me meet my amazing founding team 7 years ago (already!) for a concert preparation, where we had to be ready in 3 weeks only to play more than 50 songs for an outdoor concert. It was as evidence for us: we all wanted to make some change in the sheet music world and disrupt the way we read music. No more flying paper; we all used iPhones to read our music and decided to build an app that will make musicians’ lives easier. That’s simply how it all started!
How does Newzik innovate?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: Our platform is the only one in the market that offers a cloud-based collaborative ecosystem where a musician can access their music from everywhere, at any time, and share notes and markings with other musicians in real-time, like in Google Docs.
Digital scores radically simplify the work of thousands of professional musicians. While it takes a lot of convincing and support to convert a classical symphony orchestra to using iPads instead of paper, our clients report huge benefits once they adopt our technology.
Today, we are proud to announce that we went deeper into the innovation. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, our technology can now “understand” any PDF sheet music (exported or scanned) and play the music automatically!
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: With the sudden and systematic closing of all the concert halls, the pandemic seriously affected our business finances during the first months. Indeed, our solution was mainly made for performing musicians, and more specifically, classical orchestras, opera houses and music ensembles. This means we basically lost 100% of our business in a few short weeks!
But instead of panicking, we immediately pivoted to serve new markets that might need us more than before. That’s why our team worked hard on providing online support for orchestras & operas to help them work from home, as well as on developing new functionalities to address the needs of music schools who were also faced with this urgent need of a solution that would let them organize online classes and connect with their students remotely in a simple and efficient way. Despite the short-term difficulties, making this shift opened new business opportunities and significant medium-term revenues.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: We have been extremely lucky since we confirmed a 3M€ fundraise a few days before the Covid lockdown! All our employees were safe, working from home, more motivated than ever to create collaborative and remote features that will be more helpful than ever.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: We have always been well equipped for customer management. We use Freshdesk for support, Hubspot for CRM, Mailchimp for emailing and Zoom for demos. However, Covid marked a real deepening of the use of these tools. For example, we have started making our first Newzik training & onboarding sessions through zoom to our clients, which we had never considered in the past and that now let us offer our services with no boundaries!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: French government is extremely supportive. Thanks to government support, we have been able to get a substantial amount of money in order to cover human resources costs.
Your final thoughts?
Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta: A start-up like ours faces uncertainty every day. Covid emphasized the necessity to be able to reinvent ourselves quickly and efficiently.
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