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University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver, Newsroom

Business School grad creates unique, high-tech guitar

More durable, sounds better than wooden guitars

6/22/2011

DENVER - He grew up in a musical family, playing piano and saxophone before discovering the guitar and realizing his life’s ambition – becoming a rock star.

He was Josh Jacobson of Stamford, CT but he really wanted to be Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

Yet it didn’t take long for his beloved guitar to become a frustrating, unpredictable tool. It broke easily, the wood warped and the beautiful sound it produced when he first bought it grew increasingly hollow.

“Guitars have a lot of durability issues,” he said.

Josh JacobsonJacobson, 29, who earned his MBA from the University of Colorado Denver in 2009, never shared the stage with Slash yet he’s now making his musical debut in a more elemental way – building the world’s first electric guitar made entirely of composite material. Virtually indestructible, the high-tech carbon fiber guitar produces a better sound than its wooden cousin and a sound that never changes, says Jacobson.

His fledgling company, Viktorian Guitars, won the $10,000 first place prize last week in the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition sponsored by the CU Denver Business School. Jacobson beat out five other finalists with his presentation touting the qualities of the sleek, hand-built guitars.

“I feel passionate about music and believe I am on the cutting edge of something that will sweep the musical world,” he said.

There are already carbon fiber violins, violas and cellos – famed cellist Yo Yo Ma plays one. The joint services orchestra that performed at President Obama’s inauguration used composite instruments.

Jacobson’s Denver-based company includes a former engineer who built unmanned composite aircraft for the military along with world famous guitar designer Boaz Elkayam.

 “Not only do these guitars require minimal maintenance, they are also environmentally sustainable,” said Jacobson.

According to Jacobson, many guitars are made of tightly regulated rosewood from countries like Madagascar.  In 2009, federal agents raided a Gibson guitar manufacturing plant in Nashville for allegedly importing endangered species of rosewood.

“This is pushing up the price of guitars at the same time the demand is increasing,” he said.

His marketing strategy is to get the guitar into the hands of musicians and let it sell itself. Orders are already coming in. Prices can be found at www.viktorian.com.

Jacobson, who says he always wanted to be an entrepreneur, credits the Bard Center for helping him move from concept to product to marketing.

“The classes I took at the Bard Center helped me organize my ideas, develop a comprehensive business plan and helped me get seed funding,” he said. “I am just elated that we won the Business Plan competition and I am looking forward to bringing this technology to Denver and the world.”

Located on the University of Colorado Denver’s downtown campus, the CU Business School (business.ucdenver.edu) is the largest accredited graduate school of business with more than 21,000 alumni in Colorado. The school serves 1,450 graduate students and nearly 1,700 undergraduate students each year. Students and faculty are engaged in solving real-world business challenges as they collaborate on more than 100 projects with area businesses every semester through classroom work, guest lectures and research projects. Full-scale renovations are underway at the Business School’s future home at 1475 Lawrence St. in downtown Denver. The doors will open to the first students in January 2012. We are building a great Business School in the heart of a great city.

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Contact: David Kelly, 303-315-6374, david.kelly@ucdenver.edu