Breezin' Thru has a simple mission: to bring out the music in students young and old. The team behind the company believes that music is a joyful experience that everyone should have in their lives. Unfortunately, too many people shy away because they never master the fundamentals; they don't understand the theory or the basic language of music.
Breezin' Thru helps to solve that problem by making learning music theory fun and engaging. Breezin' Thru Theory, the company's first commercial product, helps students master the basics. Once that's done, anyone can translate what they've learned into great music. Breezin' Thru Composing, the company's second product (developed with assistance from OMDC's Interactive Digital Media Fund), builds on the theory skills and helps students make music of their own.
Jean McKen didn't set out to start a company in 2008, when she was asked to develop some computer-based content for a local Toronto school. The school wanted to put its new computer labs to good use. McKen, passionate about music education, developed some theory lessons, drills and games. Students and teachers loved it. Soon other schools wanted to use the program, too.
Immediately recognized as a quality product, Breezin' Thru expanded its reach beyond Ontario markets quickly. After a trial in a Texas school, students using the theory program achieved the highest Advanced Placement test success rate ever. This led to even greater interest and sales in the United States; today, approximately 70% of the company's business is in that market. OMDC's Export Fund has helped the company attend trade shows and industry conferences in the US, including a recent California event that attracted 100,000 attendees, where Breezin' Thru Theory & Composing were awarded “Best Tools for School,” a significant accomplishment.
OMDC has helped Breezin' Thru on two tracks: product development and market expansion. The Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund provided funding – and, crucially, guidance – when the company needed it. Funding for product development is one of the major challenges the company faces, particularly given the exceptionally long sales cycles. (The nature of the education business means that it can take two or three years from the first pitch to closing the sale and implementing the program in a school.)
Breezin' Thru's founders stress how important music is to brain development and creativity. The fact that their product is not just fun and effective but also affordable has contributed to the company's success. Judging by their success so far, Breezin' Thru and its students will be making beautiful music for a long time yet.
“We feel we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg right now. Our success is a work in progress. Almost eighty percent of our current US sales come from five states so we’ve barely tapped what’s possible. It's a very exciting place to be.”\
—Nancy Helstab, President & Co-Founder, Breezin' Thru Inc,
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