Christoph Thür (Ovelin) – Interview (Part 1)

Full Name: Christoph Thür
Company: Ovelin
Position: CEO

Last week I told you about WildChords, a cool iPad app created by Ovelin that lets you learn to play the guitar without you even noticing – it all becomes a game. Now I want to introduce you to Ovelin’s CEO, Christoph Thür. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and with WildChords’ release date set for October 2011 this interview’s all you need before heading to the App Store and downloading your own copy.




Tell us a little about your app. How was it conceived? What are its most distinctive features in your opinion?

WildChords is a guitar learning app that motivates people to practice on their real guitars. Its played with an acoustic (or electric guitar), and currently on an iPad (other platforms to follow). The cool thing about it is that you don’t need any special equipment to play, and you also no previous guitar knowledge is required. Turn it on, grab your guitar, and the game will get you playing in no time. We concentrate much of our energy on the motivational aspects of the game: give rewards, make it easy to use and turn it into a casual game (play a quick session in the add- breaks, rather than reserve an hour for practice). Both co-founders (Mikko and me) were guitar dropouts. Not because we did not know what to do, not because we did not have time to practice (who has time for anything anyway), but because we lacked the motivation to go through those early exercises. We figured that if we find a way to motivate ourselves to practice, it might work for others too.

When is WildChords going to be released?

The plan is to launch the first version in October 2011.

What has been the response so far?

The response has been overwhelming. Users (kids and adults alike) love the game, they get hooked immediately, and make real progress. More importantly they really enjoy playing the guitar, which makes it that much easier to pick up the guitar every day for a few minutes. We also worked with different guitar teachers who love the idea even more. Finally their students practice at home and come to classes proud to show what they have achieved the past week, and motivated to learn more. One teacher tested WildChords with two of his least motivated students and said that they have practiced more at home in this one month using WildChords, than in the whole previous year. WildChords records the time you play, and another teacher reported that his student had used it on average of 2.5h per day! However, we are still learning so many things from our users that we are excited about gameplay modes, advanced features, and tons of new levels.
As a nice bonus, we won the Best European Learning Game 2011 competition with WildChords.

What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?

I don’t want to say too much about upcoming things yet, but we are working hard to make the game even richer, with new guitar techniques, and also more interactive features. We are also talking to different musicians and bands to help us create more songs for the game. And of course we will include some famous songs to the game too.

What apps is Ovelin going to release next?

WildChords of course, and then we are planning to launch our guitar tuner as individual app, because at least we found that it is the only thing out there that actually works.

There is a certain tendency to demonize the Internet in the music industry. I think it is all a matter of perspective – it all depends on the uses it is put to. What is your opinion? In which areas has the Internet left an unquestionably positive mark?

I think music is one of the most rewarding, most respected and most exciting hobbies in the world (both actively playing or just listening). I think the internet is an extremely powerful tool to connect music lovers, and it enables you to experience music on a whole new level. But like in many other industries, new technology disrupts existing business models. As an entrepreneur, I see this as a great opportunity for new products and services to flourish.

Continue to Part 2 of this interview (“Music & You”)