Gad Baruch Hinkis is not your cookie-cutter entrepreneur. He is not clean shaven or wearing a light blue dress shirt. He has a full, reddish-brown beard and wears sweaters with funky, eclectic patterns.
And watching him pitch his startup Polyjamer is an experience all its own. The 33-year-old Israeli brings high energy onstage, while effortlessly moving through a market analysis presented on colorful slides.
This unique style is part of his role as, first and foremost, a musician. He also goes by the names McDaddy G, from his Israeli hiphop days, or now as DJ Neckbreaka.
This is because Hinkis’ life is centered around electronic music: He spent the last seven years performing with his band, Dirty Honkers, and YouTube is full of fun, music videos featuring Hinkis sitting in a bathtub kissing a rubber ducky or walking through the streets of Berlin’s Neukölln district.
It comes as little surprise to hear that his startup idea involves music. But it is much more than that, Hinkis shares.
He is trying to solve a problem many people, Hinkis included, have: A desire to create music, but zero ability to play an instrument.
Experimenting with controllerism
Before moving to Berlin in 2009, Hinkis lived in Maccabim, Israel, a small town situated between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was here that Hinkis tried creating a band, only to realize that he (nor any of his friends) knew how to play an instrument.
“But that doesn’t mean we didn’t want to express ourselves,” he explains.
He started making music with a computer, which was “not as threatening” as learning an instrument and became fascinated with the possibilities associated with electronic music.
“It became an absolute total addiction,” he tells the Heureka.
Through trial and error in controllerism, the art of making music with controllers, like a dance dance revolution mat or a joystick, Hinkis eventually came up with Polyjamer, a music-making app for smartphones and tablets.
Smartphones, according to Hinkis, are a better technical solution. “Phones gives you so much control,” Hinkis says, wiggling his fingers in the air. “And why not use what everybody has?”
Jamming with Polyjamer
Hinkis doesn’t just want to lower the bar for creating music. He wants to destroy it.
The Polyjamer app, which lets users create bass, treble and percussion tracks, loop them together and hold jam sessions, is easy enough for a 5-year-old child to use or even a 78-year-old grandma.
With one person playing on an android device, another on an iPad and a third on an iPhone, Hinkis believes that playing music is a “tool for social integration.” Everyone contributes and creates a shared sound.
Right now the Polyjamer app connects devices over WiFi, but soon they’ll be adding Bluetooth, he says.
Moving from idea to startup
Moving the app offstage from a Dirty Honkers’ concert into a full-blown product and startup is Hinkis’ current focus. Last year he participated in GTEC’s Berlin Startup Academy, where he and his two co-founders, CTO Roi Werner (46) and CFO Marika Saridi (31), were introduced to “a world of business talk.”
When it comes to the music tech market there are currently apps, like Smule, which let users play songs on piano, and Propellerhead, which lets users create original music. But none of these products combines the ability to create original content, while collaborating online or in-person. This is the niche Polyjamer fills, Hinkis explains.
The digital music instrument’s founder wants to focus on two markets: performers and adolescents. Polyjamer, Hinkis explains, could even be offered as an interactive event solution.
There is a beta version of the app currently open and approximately 60 people are testing it.
But before registering as a company, Hinkis wants to secure seed funding from a “cool business angel, that wants to do something very exciting.” And until then Hinkis is going to keep taking what he’s learned on stage and applying it to his pitches.