‘Reimagined’ digital keyboard start-up closes £7.6 million venture capital round

Balderton Capital, Index Ventures and Universal Music are uniting to support the growth and expansion of music technology business ROLI.

London-based start-up ROLI is set to use venture capital as a way to market and sell its keyboard hardware product.

Having completed a degree at Harvard, lived as a Zen monk and busked playing his piano, Roland Lamb has secured a £7.6 million investment for his business.

ROLI has developed what it describes as a ‘radical reimagining of the keyboard’ through its Seaboard GRAND product. The soft, continuous keyboard surface allows users to experiment with pitch bend, vibrator and per-note dynamic changes.

Backing the business are two venture capital firms which have history in supporting music and entertainment-based companies. Balderton Capital has invested in 7Digital and Kobalt Music Group while Index Ventures has been part of transactions involving Sonos and SoundCloud. Also joining the round are FirstMark Capital and global music organisation Universal Music.

Commenting on the investment, ROLI CEO Lamb says, ‘This capital will enable us to scale production capacity to meet growing demand, build our team, and accelerate our product roadmap.

‘The Seaboard is just the first in a line of breakthrough music hardware and software products, and the investment will speed development of core products like our sound engine Equator.’

ROLI founder Roland Lamb

Music entrepreneur Roland Lamb says his new backers bring ‘great experience’

Lamb devised the Seaboard whilst studying design at the Royal College of Art. Development of the product was then completed before an angel investment in 2012. The waiting list for the product now stands at 12 months.

As part of the investment, Balderton Capital general partner Daniel Waterhouse is joining the board of directors at ROLI alongside FirstMark Capital founder and managing director Amish Jani.

Accolades for ROLI’s Seaboard have included the Design Museum’s 2014 Design of the Year Award and inclusion in the SXSW Music Accelerator of 2013.

Waterhouse adds, ‘Roland and the team have developed a truly innovative and inspirational first generation of products, combining design, technology and re-imagining of the user interface for creating music.

‘ROLI is further evidence of the unique fusion of skills that can be found building a new generation of technology companies in London.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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