When looking for a music teacher leads to opening a music school, that’s a market opportunity. For Skye Barker Maa, it started by accident when she couldn’t find someone to teach piano to her gifted three-year-old. A mix of long waiting lists plus lack of interest in teaching children that young led Skye to find her son his first teacher. Neighborhood Music was born.
Completing her MBA while being a stay-at-home mom to three children, Skye wasn’t planning to start a business, much less an arts organization. “I don’t have a musical background but this experience for my son defined what I wanted for others,” she recalled. “So, I converted my basement into a music school, starting with four teachers.” Within seven months, 150 students had enrolled.
The school soon took over Skye’s home which prompted her to search for a new location to meet demand. A tip from her cousin’s friend, an investment banker, led Skye to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) where she qualified for two loans – first, in 2015 to finance construction of 16 studios in the building she initially rented and, second, in 2018 to finance a move to her current location at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.
“I looked into buying the first building but am glad I rented,” Skye remarked, “because the developer of Stanley Marketplace wanted our school residing in his new building. Our students and families generate a great deal of foot traffic.” Her music students also perform events year-round throughout the revamped warehouse venue which keeps the school visible and enrollment healthy.
Now that Neighborhood Music is established, Skye is embarking on another venture – opening a dance studio in an adjacent store space. “It’s thrilling and petrifying to start a business but, this time around, I’m not so scared.” Why?
“The experience I had working with CEF was invaluable,” stated Skye. “Their flexibility and willingness to listen to all my concerns about my business idea made taking a risk less scary. Having a trifecta of financial, business and emotional support all in one place was great!”