Taylor Robinson Music Before Shark Tank
Taylor Robinson, the founder of Taylor Robinson Music, has come from Dallas, Texas all the way to the Shark Tank to seek $100,000 in exchange for a 10% equity stake in his company. Taylor is a musician and has been playing guitar for over 20 years; he started the company Taylor Robinson Music while in his high school garage band, and from those meager roots, has come to revolutionize the method of finding then hiring private music instructors from all across the United States. Music programs, unfortunately, are cut from schools everyday which can leave parents wondering where they can go to find their child a musical education, and in this process, often turn to fliers that are untrustworthy or look on websites that are unsafe – they still don’t know who they’re getting, or if their instructors are a good match for them.
Fortunately, Taylor Robinson Music solves these problems and a whole lot more. Students can log on using the website or mobile app for Taylor Robinson Music, and by using their zipcode, can coordinate to find instructors. There are literally tens of thousands of Taylor Robinson Music-approved musicians, who all pass through a screening process. In this same interface, potential students can read the reviews, see maps of where the lessons will be held or where the teacher has gone previously, and see the specialties or schedules of instructors. When a student picks the instructor, they can use the same website to schedule and book lessons, all the meanwhile Taylor Robinson will profit off a small commission.
Robert immediately delves into numbers and figures, and asks about the profitability of a business like Taylor Robinson Music; Taylor reveals that so far, they have made over $2.5 million dollars over the past 5 years. Within the past 12 months, Taylor Robinson Music has made around $450,000 and the sales forecast for next year calls for a revenue of $550,000, a steady increase of $100,000 or so per year. Robert asks for more elaboration on how the profit works, and Taylor Robinson himself admits that “the profits are tough.” Profit numbers are tough, as Taylor Robinson Music is only profiting about $40,000 per year.
Taylor Robinson Music On Shark Tank
There are two main costs messing up the margins; the first is customer acquisition, and the second is the cost of operation (websites, maintenance, staff, etc.) Kevin probes for more details on how Taylor Robinson will use the money from Shark Tank to patch these holes, and Taylor says that luckily he has already fixed the issue of customer acquisition; over time, Taylor Robinson Music has become more and more specialized in local search-engine optimization, which is the most effective way for Taylor Robinson Music to acquire students. However, the cost to acquire each customer is around $33, meaning a batch of 3 customers would run around $100 of an investment.
Daymond asks about the margins and numbers of sales, and Taylor explains; in a half hour of lessons (the average), each lesson costs $23 and Taylor Robinson Music will receive $9 of that $23; the other $14 will go towards paying the instructor. This is a 38% margin, but only $2 or $3 of that $9 Taylor Robinson Music receives is actual pure profit; the rest is re-invested into the health of the website. With the money, Taylor Robinson is looking to finish the enterprise system and automate a lot of the systems that have to be performed manually.
Mark asks for more specifics about the website and service behind Taylor Robinson Music, and Taylor says that there are about 4,000 active instructors on the Taylor Robinson Music site. Lori asks for information on the approval process, and Taylor starts by saying that safety is always the first priority. They look at background checks, criminal checks, employment history, social security history, and many more. A lot of the overhead, Mark points out, is going into this screening process that Taylor Robinson himself has developed – the employees behind Taylor Robinson Music are actually going and plugging all the information into background check systems, such as those available online, instead of having an automated process.
Taylor Robinson continues on, saying that most of the teachers are actually professional musicians who will take time off to go and tour with their band to various locations; Taylor himself is a professional musician, and he was able to work between tours and this is exactly who they are looking to hire, he says – Taylor Robinson Music is looking to hire musicians who are capable of teaching other students about music. Mark points out that this leads to an excellent brand recognition, as once a musician from the service can make it onto television to become a huge hit start, that establishes the brand as credible (“Brand,” Mark Cuban keeps repeating, “It’s all about the brand.”)
Taylor continues on, giving some examples of instructors that he has working for Taylor Robinson Music; the runners-up of shows like American Idol and The Voice are also working for him as instructors on the website and are actively teaching. The Sharks seem in dis-belief that someone of evident celebrity status would be teaching music classes for around $23 an hour, but Taylor points out that these people truly do not have as much money as the Sharks think they do; living the life of a musician is often a frugal one. Kevin says that he attended guitar lessons when he was young with a guitarist of Aerosmith and was paying about $90 an hour since everyone wanted to use them, and asks if there is variability; Taylor Robinson confirms that you cannot set your own price on Taylor Robinson Music’s website and application. Kevin is distraught at this, calling it a “big mistake.”
Taylor continues on, revealing the biggest flaw behind his business; the software that powers the Taylor Robinson Music website and application actually cannot handle each instructor having a different rate, but insists that they are very close to finishing a software update (which will cost a “small, one-time fee of $50,000”) that will allow for instructors to set their own price and make their own adjustments, all while simplifying payroll.
Kevin says that he wishes that Taylor Robinson Music had the major issue fixed, as he feels that Taylor has found a very-proven formula but has large issues. Since there are major issues that can affect Taylor Robinson Music’s bottom line and are caused by the man running it, Kevin says he isn’t interested anymore, and is the first Shark to exit the deal.
Mark says that while Taylor is very, very close to finding success, but ultimately, there are still some holes in the ship – the process of patching those holes up, using money as the resource to fix those loopholes in Taylor’s formula, is a whole lot different than identifying the loopholes. Mark is the second Shark out.
Robert says that while Taylor is close (like an out-of-tune guitar,) he just isn’t seeing a big jump that can be handled by simply giving Taylor money. Robert is the next Shark out.
Daymond speaks up, saying that he is an investor into a similar product called “Game Changer Meetings.” Daymond thinks that Taylor’s positioning is wrong, and he is working hard and not smart – Daymond is out. The positioning of the company is who the product is targeted for, which Taylor Robinson Music does not seem to have a very clear target and is more of a broad service.
Lori is the last Shark remaining, and says that in her days of experience of QVC, she has found that she only has 4 minutes to convince someone to pick up the phone and buy her product; as Taylor has been standing here, Lori says she is simply not convinced. There is so much confusion that needs to be clarified, but ultimately, Lori is the final and last Shark out, leaving Taylor Robinson Music without an investment.
Taylor Robinson Music Now in 2018: The After Shark Tank Update
True to Taylor Robinson’s word, the application and website for Taylor Robinson Music finally did receive the update that he said was coming and now music teachers are able to set their own prices. The website has also been majorly overhauled, giving a much nicer user interface and showing what Taylor Robinson Music is truly about. The name of the intellectual property was also changed to Taylor Robinson Music Lessons.
Taylor Robinson Music Lessons now focuses on a series of lessons, rather than attempting to serve as a network for musicians to meet potential students. The available lessons on Taylor Robinson Music Lesson’s website include guitar (and bass guitar) lessons, drum lessons, keyboard and piano lessons, vocal lessons, song writing lessons, and even audio engineering lessons.
You still search for potential instructors through the use of a ZIP code, and while at first I was surprised to see an impressive number of potential music instructors, none of them were located even close to me – the closest one was about 8 miles away from me with 5 years of experience, and the next closest teacher was 41 miles away with 15 years of experience. While Taylor Robinson seems dedicated to building his website and his brand, ultimately, the brand does not seem to be catching on with music teachers.