AN EDINBURGH-BASED tech company behind a device which allows kids of all abilities to play music has revealed it is in talks to raise up to £5 million in equity investment.

The creators of Skoog, a tactile musical cube initially developed to help children with disabilities and learning difficulties, have opened talks with venture capitalists in Scotland, south of the Border and in other countries as they seek funding for the next phase of its development.

It comes after parent company Skoogmusic has seen use of the cube extend beyond the educational environment, with the device now on sale to consumers in 150 Apple stores around the world.

The cube, which retails for around £199, has been integrated by Apple into its own software platforms, meaning it can be used in conjunction with iPads on tools such as Garage Music and Apple Music. It can be automatically tuned to any piece of music played on Apple Music, which means users can play along to their favourite music without any formal training being required.

Ben Schogler, who founded the University of Edinburgh spin-out with David Skulina in 2008, said the company is seeking investment to scale up production of the cube. It is currently manufactured in Leith, Edinburgh, but production may be shifted elsewhere in a bid to achieve economies of scale.

Mr Schogler said: “We have already started conversations with some of the larger VCs, both in Scotland, down in London and further afield as well to look at what we need to do to really do this. And at the moment, we are also growing with Apple – we’re in over 150 stores.”

Asked how much the company is looking to raise from investors, Mr Schogler added: “Realistically between £3m and £5m, depending on the partner. Sometimes certain groups have strong connections within manufacturing or retail that will means you can access a great deal of in-kind support.”

In its last financial year, Mr Schogler said the company sold 1,600 units in the nine months between launching the latest version of the product to February. But he said it has already sold more than that in the first quarter of its current year.

The latest fund-raising drive for Skoog follows an inaugural investment round in 2010, which raised £440,000 to allow it to bring the first version of device into production. The initial investment came from Barwell in Glasgow, Scottish Enterprise, and an Edinburgh investment syndicate called Daedalus.

So far the company continues to manufacture its device in Leith, but Mr Schogler signalled that this may change in the long term. “We will be still be making it in Scotland for a while. [But] we are looking for economies of scale for certain parts elsewhere. Alongside that there is a requirement for support and investment to really scale the manufacturing and see where that will grow.”

An updated version of the product, Skoog 1.0, was launched online with Apple store across the EU in 2012, before Skoog 2.0 arrived in 2015. The latest model is wireless and is available globally online at, as well as in Apple retail outlets. The technology allows budding musicians to create musical sounds with the device in tandem an iPad, with no musical skills needed.

While encouraging people to get into music using the device remains fundamental to Skoogmusic, the creators have discovered the technology has other applications.

More recently, Skoogmusic connected to the Californian tech giant’s Swift Playground coding app for the iPad, meaning that users can learn and apply coding skills to programme, control and make music with Skoog.

Mr Schogler, who gained a PhD in psychology music improvisation at the University of Edinburgh, said the idea behind Skoog had been around since 2002. While its initial focus was on helping people with the “most profound challenges”, he said it has developed into a “bigger thing, which is the challenges we all face in engaging with music”.

He explained: “We start off as kids and we are all naturally musical. Human beings are musical by default. Over the years we have lost, particularly in the west, the kind of social music making in the home. Music has become something we consume… we are no longer engaging with the raw ingredients.”