Dover entrepreneur says EDGE grant accelerated his business
Like many musicians, Dan Spencer started teaching music as a side gig in college. After teaching for different companies, both online and in-person, his sideshow soon became his leading act. In 2018, he started the online music instruction company Best Music Coach.
Coming from a family of artists, entrepreneurs and teachers, he said it’s not surprising that his life swerved in that direction.
“I find so much joy in music, so to inspire that joy in music in others and also to see that joy in music in others, is absolutely what gets me up in the morning and keeps me going,” he said.
As he was starting the company, Spencer moved from New Jersey to Dover. “I’ve really fallen in love with the pace of life and just the general friendliness of people,” he said. “I’m with the Delaware culture for sure.”
Since teachers and students don’t have to travel, online instruction can save time and money, Spencer said. The student signs into a half-hour lesson through an interactive video chat, and at the end, he sends an email with practice instructions.
Often Spencer and the student will have the same piece of music in front of them. His audio comes directly out of the student’s speakers because he uses a microphone and plugs the guitars and basses into the computer.
“If you have an experienced teacher, it actually doesn’t matter that you’re not in the room with them. They’re able to deliver the same quality experience to you as you would [get] in-person,” he said, explaining that he could teach a student by listening only.
Most of his clients are children between ages 6 and 14, or older adults. He teaches any student, whether they want to play the guitar around a campfire or sing professionally.
“This is not a one-size-fits-all experience,” he said. “So, when you sign up for lessons, there’s communication that happens up front because I’m going to custom-tailor each lesson to get you where you want to go.”
Last month, Gov. John Carney announced that Best Music Coach was among 10 companies to receive the EDGE grant from the Division of Small Business.
This was the second round of grants since the program launched in May. A business can receive up to $50,000 in a matching grant to support its long-term success.
Spencer was awarded $35,829 to do things like produce a more advanced website that includes internal video chat, offer a 15% discount for military families and publish three instructional books.
While applying, Spencer said he compared how long it would take to complete these goals with and without the EDGE grant. “In one year, I’m basically jumping a decade ahead in terms of what I would be able to do,” he said. “The EDGE grant is basically kickstarting a cyclone of business.”
With the grant, Spencer can accomplish more, like writing a fourth book on music theory and streaming his lessons as a resource for students.
He first heard of the grants while perusing the Division of Small Business’ website and applied shortly before the first deadline. After he didn’t get accepted, he worked with the division to apply again, revising his application and meeting with business experts.
“Putting the money aside, just the business experience of working with these people, it’s worth going through this process whether you win or not,” he said. “Going through that process can bring so much clarity and so much insight into a business.”
The application deadline for Spring 2020 grants is Feb. 28. For more, see https://business.delaware.gov/edge-grants/.