Singer Shankar Mahadevan turns technopreneur with online music venture | india | Hindustan Times
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Singer Shankar Mahadevan turns technopreneur with online music venture

india Updated: Feb 13, 2011 21:49 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan started his career as a software engineer, specialising in Oracle applications. He is back to information technology again, but this time in an avatar that connects the two dots in an entrepreneurial venture.

On his birthday, March 3, the 41-year-old singer who has straddled genres that include pop, jazz, Sufi, Hindustani and Carnatic music, will formally launch an online music academy that has already run pilots with teachers and students.

Unlike TutorVista, which got recently acquired by UK's Pearson group for using India-based teachers with software and telecom links to coach all-American students, Shankar aims to carry traditional Hindustani and Carnatic music, besides folk and devotional music, to NRIs swarming the US.

Using Net content, software and video-conferencing, Shankar, who is extending his brick-and-mortar music school, aims to help NRI kids catch up on traditions their parents left behind and also cater to hobbyists who may want to learn the odd song.

“We took the reactions of students and it was absolutely encouraging,’ Shankar told HT. “The method we are using is completely new. We are making it a fun experience”

While the singer brings his brand value, knowledge and an ability to make it catchy with his pop style, he is partnered by his early-stage techie friends who include Sridhar Ranganathan, who sold a startup to Yahoo more than a decade ago before moving back to India.

The Shankar Mahadevan Academy is a unit of Clood On, a Bangalore-based e-learning company in which Sridhar is founder and CEO while the chief financial officer is the music loving Dinesh Pai, who earlier worked for computer maker Dell.

Video-linked teachers are expected to work at night to help US students, taking five students per class per week.

At $300 (Rs 12,500) per 12-week course that offers a basic certificate, the entrepreneurs expect their venture to be of value-for-money.

At the heart of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model is the “OM” (online music) step-by-step book designed to guide students, with notations and YouTube links for reference. Maestros will serve as visiting academy.

There is even software to test the tonal accuracy of students, while encryption technology will protect the intellectual property created for the curriculum.