New site for guitar collectors to keep track of instruments

 

A NEW Irish-based social network hopes to help guitar collectors find out whether their battered Strat was once gripped by Rory Gallagher, or whether Jimmy Page’s fingers ever danced across the frets of an old Gibson Les Paul.

Called dbTwang, the site aims to become a trusted place on the web where players and collectors can keep information about their guitars securely, over time building a history for their instruments, be they electric, acoustic or bass.

Although there are many guitar forums and marketplaces online, there is no direct equivalent to dbTwang, claims chief executive Keith Bohanna. “There isn’t yet a social network for people who are passionate about guitars,” he said.

The company has just completed follow-on investment to the tune of €80,000, and Colm Lyon, founder and chief executive of Realex Payments, will assist the company as an adviser and investor.

Mr Lyon is highly regarded in the online payments industry. His company processes billions of euro for companies such as Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic. Gerry McQuaid, the former commercial director of O2, is a non-executive director.

DbTwang has received €200,000 in funding to date. The company is on target to turn over €400,000 by the end of next year and to break even by mid-2011, Mr Bohanna said.

The website, at www.dbtwang.com, is currently in beta testing and will be fully launched in November.

Close to 900 people have already become members, and the plan is to ramp up numbers aggressively after that.

“In the very short term, we hope to have 10,000 users by the end of Q1 next year. Our forecast is that by the end of year five we will have four million members,” said Mr Bohanna.

The site will use a “freemium” business model, where many services will cost nothing, and other exclusive features will be available only to paying subscribers. Data from the US suggest the conversion rate to paying users is between 3-8 per cent of a site’s total audience, Mr Bohanna said.

When the site builds up sufficient visitor numbers, Mr Bohanna said leading guitar and accessories manufacturers would pay to work with the site and develop content for members.

“We want to bring it from a niche to a substantial commercial opportunity,” he said.

DbTwang’s backers also have plans for an ambitious “guitar genome project” to build up a database on as many guitars in existence as possible, so that collectors will be able to check the origin of any instrument through the site.