From the Desk of President and CEO...
Thank you for all the congratulatory texts, emails and posts! It's a real treat when a young company is invited to show its products on network TV, and certainly flattering when you get invited back three times. But it's unbelievably flattering when your competition tips their hat and gives you a public 'attaboy'! We owe it all to you - our employees, our customers, our fans and our friends. With your help we have proven to the world that it is possible to improve upon perfection. The art, craftsmanship and genesis of fine lutherie brought to this country over 175 years ago has been updated, refreshed and made more portable for today's mobile society. Most important of all, we did this without sacrificing any of the quality that we've all come to love in a skillfully devised and great sounding guitar.
Let me fill in a few of the Shark Tank blanks that you may be wondering about.
As you all recall, when my son Josh and I appeared on Shark Tank 3 years ago, my partners Harvey Leach and Adrian Bagale had just perfected our folding guitar technology. I didn't want to do anything to diminish its quality and disappoint our guitar playing friends and fans. My objective was, and still is, to build very high quality guitars that just happen to be the most portable and accessible guitars on the planet! So, even though I was berated by Kevin, it was an easy decision to turn him down. After all, we don't want to diminish the value or utility of the worlds' most recognized innovation in the guitar business in generations simply to make a few bucks on a licensing deal.
After turning down the Sharks, we continued to build out the business and the product line. We added several acoustic models and developed our first electric prototype. Michael Ferrucci, VP of Sales and Marketing, orchestrated a successful U.S. launch in over 200 retail stores. Based on results, we proved the viability of our technology and every major guitar magazine touted our benefits writing stunning reviews about our guitars. Voyage-Air Guitar had truly arrived and the Shark Tank producers were proud to showcase us.
I have made many friends at Shark Tank, and have kept in touch with them over the past 3 years. The producers thought it would be kind of fun to see what would happen if I returned to the Tank for Season 3. They knew how excited Kevin O'Leary was about Voyage-Air Guitar and about all the buzz we were getting in the guitar world. So, I returned to the Tank. As you could imagine, I received a wonderful reception from all the Sharks, including Mark Cuban (Mark replaced Kevin Harrington, the Shark who wanted to do an infomercial with us during Season 1). But the point-man remains Kevin O'Leary. Yes, "Mr. Wonderful" was annoyed that he let us slip through his fingers two years ago. Even though I was "dead to him", he was more than willing to resuscitate me if he could get a piece of the action. What happened was the biggest deal ever made on Shark Tank. However, the deal was too complex for TV. It included millions of dollars and was contingent on me negotiating a concurrent deal with a leading industry brand name, so the producers couldn't figure out how to make the piece simple enough to be explained to the TV audience.
Enter Fender Guitar. Ok, now no matter what you say, you've got to agree that Fender is the industry icon. Fender is a household name and a venerable company known for building high quality guitars that their customers are proud to own. Fender builds a great product and shows enormous respect for their customers and the environment. However, Fender also recognizes that in order to remain relevant and on top, you can't just sit still and bask in past successes. They must move forward and demonstrate that they are not just keeping up with the times, but rather they are a forward thinking company. That's where Voyage-Air comes in. We ARE the innovation leader. Fender is hip enough to recognize that fact and astute enough to do something about it. In a series of "secret meetings", the Fender and Voyage-Air senior staff met to discuss what we would build, how to build it, and how to protect the integrity and independence of each brand. The result? We agreed on a market test. Shark Tank brought their cameras in to witness Kevin and I negotiate the terms of the market test with Fender's senior staff. The test will include a very limited run of a few hundred Fender Voyage-Air Guitars placed in key retail stores around the country. No doubt these guitars will become instant collectibles!
Maybe, just maybe...we'll see an update next year on the success of the nationwide Fender Voyage-Air test.
We really appreciate the outpouring of support and we're looking forward to updating you on the progress as this new adventure unfolds. Fender is a class act and I promise you that together we will only produce guitars that we are proud to build and you will be proud to own!
Jeffrey M. Cohen
President and CEO - Voyage-Air Guitar, Inc.