Tanuja’s family had been running the famous musical instrument store Furtados for 154 years. Both Dharini and Tanuja observed that music was an integral part of children’s learning and thought of starting something in this space.
While there were options for instruments, there were hardly any music schools teaching a structured curriculum in the country. They took a look at music programmes offered by top institutes in the world, and after hours of research and interactions with tutors, they decided to create a music education vertical in Furtados. The result: Furtados School of Music (FSM).
Studying the financial viability of a project was a relatively easier task for Tanuja and Dharini because of their banking experience. The two met for coffee to put a mental stamp on their plan. The final resolution was: “If the plan doesn’t work, we will retire as music teachers in the Himalayas.”
Five years ago, they launched the first centre of their music school in Mumbai’s posh Nepean Sea Road area. Many more centres have opened up now, providing a structured programme to children as well as adults.
Tanuja and Dharini jointly run the operation as CEOs. Apart from framing its courses on the lines of programmes taught internationally, FSM used technology to gamify lessons. For instance, a digital Beethoven tells students what notes to play.
In its early days, the school attracted a lot of attention but as hobby classes, lacking the scale Tanuja and Dharini had envisioned. Tanuja learned about the Carnegie Mellon programme in which musicians visit various schools to teach music.
FSM then developed a new course and partnered with schools to teach it in classrooms as a full-time subject. FSM’s team of musicians began giving lessons in Mumbai schools before expanding to more cities. Today, FSM teaches the art to almost 60,000 students across 200 schools and preschools in 14 cities. Tanuja and Dharini take great pride in the numbers as initially it was very difficult to make people see the potential of their idea.
Deepak Shadadpuri of DSG Consumer Partners came on board as an angel investor very early on. Recently, FSM raised Rs 20 crore from DSG and IAN Fund to broaden its footprint in the country and make quality music education accessible to everyone.
“We are among the pioneers in the field in India. FSM has been a catalyst for adoption of music in schools and households,” Dharini said. Tanuja said the firm would continue to use technology to make music lessons accessible. Its app, High Furtados, is one such attempt in this direction. It enables people to connect with instructors and sign up for classes.
Tanuja estimates there are over 17 lakh state and private-run schools in the country. FSM is present in 200; there’s plenty of scope for expansion. “We plan to reach a student base of over 5 lakh. We are also looking at enhancing our offering and several initiatives are the pipeline, which will drive the next phase of growth over the next decade,” she said.