Pando

Pando prizewinner Artiphon takes its futuristic instrument to Kickstarter

By Nathaniel Mott , written on March 3, 2015

From The News Desk

Crowdfunding platforms are chock-full of people exaggerating their own abilities or making their products seem like they can do things outside the realm of possibility. Artiphon's attempt to raise funds for its "Instrument 1" does neither of those things.

I know this because I, along with several hundred other people, saw a prototype of the Instrument 1 used by a member of Moon Taxi during last year's Southland festival in Nashville, hosted by Pando. (Insert boilerplate about this year's Pandoland will be even bigger, better, and cooler.)

Artiphon was a contestant in last year's Southland startup competition. Pando staffers -- and anyone who thinks futuristic instruments are cool -- loved it and awarded it our inaugural Pando prize. The competition's VC judges, on the other hand, believed that no professional musician would ever seriously use the device.

Those judges were proven wrong just hours later. As Pando alumnus James Robinson wrote after the instrument was first used on stage:

A few hours after the contest ended, during the sound check for their Southland festival closing set, a member of Nashville’s Moon Taxi — a band that made its debut on the ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ in November last year — saw founder Mike Butera carrying the Artiphon and asked to give it a try. As Butera describes it, the guitarist took to it instantly and asked if he could use it live on stage.

Just hours later, in front of over a thousand fans at the Southland Venue, Moon Taxi gave the Artiphon its grand, on-stage, worldwide, professional debut. The crowd went wild. Pando’s staff favorite was a crowd and band favorite too. Artiphon has now taken to Kickstarter to get the final version of its Instrument 1 -- which can be played as a keyboard, guitar, violin, and other instruments -- out to the public. It's seeking $75,000, and at the time of writing, it's raised more than $60,000.

I'll give the startup competition judges this: Instrument 1 does look like a toy. It's hard to believe, based on the shots Artiphon has posted to its Kickstarter project page, that anyone could use the device as more than a glorified "Guitar Hero" controller.

But I don't have to believe it -- I saw it. Now if only I could convince my fiancée that we could part with the $899 for the hardwood-backed "Nashville" edition of the instrument...

[photo via Artiphon]