Lessons Abroad: Feely Piano School Goes Global

Posted on March 4th, 2019

Every venture has its major milestones – launching a website, the first repeat client or comfortably leaving a day job to run the startup full-time – but some can be unexpected. 

The Adventure

A unique landmark for Feely Piano School, a music education company that provides in-home piano lessons, is the development of their music mindfulness application and soft-landing into India through Carleton University’s Canada-India Acceleration Program (CIAP) . The CIAP connects women-led businesses with talent, corporations, potential seed funding and mentorship in cities across India.

Emilee-Mae Feely, Founder of Feely Piano School, applied to the program believing it was a grant alone, and was pleasantly surprised when she found out there was more to the opportunity. Once accepted, Feely had lots of preparation to do before heading to a country she had never visited before, let alone conducted business in.

“I went to Ottawa back in November [2018] to attend training that provided information on cultural and consumer behaviour, rules and regulations, and the economy in India.  It was eye-opening and gave me context, but nothing compares to the real experience,” says Feely.

The next phase was the ‘Soft-Landing’, which sends qualifying companies to India for up to three months with the opportunity to work with over 200 incubators across the country. A team of experts advises the startups on the right market to head into. For Feely Piano School, the first stop was to spend ten days in Mumbai in January 2019.

“It was very exciting. We applied with a technology application for music schools because it’s a tech-oriented exchange program,” Feely shares. “Not only that, while this app has strong alignment with Feely Piano School, it can also be re-sold as a platform to other teachers.”

The Application

The music mindfulness app combines Emilee ’s background as a music education specialist with her co-founder’s research in music education. Emilee’s dad and co-founder, Pat Feely, is completing his PhD from Western University in Music Education, focusing on music students’ self-management. Pat’s research looks at how people plan, schedule, assess and teach themselves. Music students often attend one lesson a week and are without a teacher between sessions, so they must have strong management over their practice.

Emilee and Pat stand next to public art sign in India.

Emilee and Pat Feely -Right-

Pat’s research informs the app and takes students through pre-practice, practice and reflection stages to guide their learning. In Mumbai, Feely Piano School worked to source a development team to help build the app and explored the needs of existing music curriculum in India.

“We went to two different institutions. One was for students aged 16 and younger and the other was a university setting. We gave lectures about our app concept and talked to teachers to see what their challenges are. As it happens, there’s a gap we can fill. More support for formal music curriculum and teacher education are needed, which highlights the relevance for our app and expertise,” explains Feely.

The Aftereffect

When asked about her biggest learnings as a global entrepreneur, Feely shares how the differences in culture extend to how business is conducted.

“I didn’t necessarily know what a meeting would look like in India, but now I do. I noticed that I was expecting tighter deadlines, agendas and action, but the people I met with were more reflective and took time to think things through.”

Feely adds that while it was a good lesson in patience, there were also a lot of questions asked that validated their app and its usefulness in providing a template for music template. 

The Future of Feely Piano School in India

Feely Piano School is currently in early partnership talks with the Furtados School of Music , one of the institutions Emilee and Pat visited, to share their platform and collaborate on curriculum.

Additionally, the final phase of the CIAP will provide an opportunity for Feely Piano to pitch in early March for up to $200,000 in seed funding. If successful, the seed funding would aid in the development of the company’s music education application.

Emilee-Mae Feely has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto and founded Feely Piano School in 2014. Feely Piano School is a resident startup at EDGE and currently serves Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Waterloo and several other Greater Toronto Area locations.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, Feely Piano School is offering a free first lesson at all of their locations to women who enroll during the month of March. If you refer a friend to a lesson you will also receive $10 off. To take advantage of this offer, visit Feely Piano School’s blog.

Learn more about Feely Piano School and find them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.