Jacobs Professor wins Business Idea Competition for Innovative Cello Platform

BLOOMINGTON — The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced today the winner of the Crossroads Idea Competition, held December 14, 2022.

Associate Professor Jamie Tagg

Jamie Tagg, Associate Professor of Music, Audio Engineering, and Sound Production at the IU Jacobs School of Music, won for his business concept Celadore, an innovative performance riser for cellists soloing with orchestras. Celadore will receive a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, The Mill’s venture capital fund for startup companies.

“I am so excited to have won the Crossroads Idea Pitch Competition,” Tagg said. “I want to highlight and thank the team at The Mill for their support through events and individual consultations, as well as the partnership they have forged with the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office, offering a wide variety of educational resources and events to IU faculty startups. There is no question that these resources have set me and my company up for success as we move from a simple prototype to a commercially viable product and company!”

Celadore is the world’s first acoustically optimized and modular cello podium. It harnesses the vibration of the cello’s endpin, focuses it into a resonant panel made of wood and carbon fiber, and makes the instrument louder and clearer for the audience and performer alike.

Cello podiums are essential in concert settings, Tagg explained, to promote the visibility of the star performer. The problem is that each riser is different, and typically the endpin resonates with it in ways that are detrimental to sound or tone—the unique signature of the cellist. As a result, cellists are constantly forced to modify their performance to compensate.

Tagg first developed the concept in 2013 while working for a professional orchestra as a recording engineer. The orchestra had two events planned at a venue with no podium, so Tagg constructed one drawing on his knowledge of acoustics and carpentry. The prototype was such an improvement that both cellists performing with the orchestra asked if they could buy it.

Andy Lehman

“Celadore is a perfect example of how great business ideas are born,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “When someone like Jamie has expertise in a particular area, in this case, musical sound and performance, they develop insights into that industry’s unique problems. And when you create a needed solution to one of those problems, that’s entrepreneurship. Great entrepreneurial ideas can come from folks working in any field, regardless of whether they have a business background. The key is creating a terrific solution to a pain point.”

Tagg has continued to modify the riser since then. Earlier in 2022, he participated in the IU Faculty Startup Accelerator, a collaboration between The Mill and IU’s Innovation and Commercialization Office to help IU faculty learn how to develop their promising entrepreneurial ideas.

Tagg will use the Crossroads Idea prize money, a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, to take the Celadore prototype design to a manufacturable, cost-effective product. He plans to launch direct-to-consumer sales to prestige musicians to build a reputation. Later, the company will use that experience to refine the product and eventually license the manufacturing to a company with established production and sales channels in the musical instrument and staging industries.

Crossroads Idea Competition was launched in 2020.  A panel of twelve entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected five finalists to pitch their ideas live over Zoom. The other finalists were Kristin Cummings, Andrew Riordan, Tyler Jones, and Jack Megnin. The Crossroads Idea Competition finals were judged by Samantha Ginther, Venture Associate at High Alpha; Adam Gross, Executive Director of Ivy+ Career Link at Ivy Tech; and Heath Murray, Partner at consulting firm Dioltas.

Visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/crossroads-idea-competition to learn more about the competition.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high-potential startups based in Indiana. It’s administered and run by The Mill.