Here are three cool things you may not know about PreSonus’ notation software Notion.
In 2013, we acquired the assets of Notion Music, adding Notion™ music notation and composition software and their other solutions to our product line-up. This innovative product was the first notation app to run on iOS in addition to Mac and Windows, one of the most downloaded music creation apps. Notion and their team were a natural fit in the PreSonus culture of inventive technology development. When PreSonus acquired Notion Music not only did we score an award-winning software, we also got the one and only Jim Boitnott. All year we’re celebrating 25 years of PreSonus so it’s only fitting to celebrate Notion and hear more from one of the creators and current COO of PreSonus Jim Boitnott!
What were you doing before PreSonus?
I was the CEO of Notion Music.
Was owning a business something you dreamed of doing or just fell into it as the products came along?
I never actually owned Notion Music, it was owned by several people and started by Lori and Jack Jarrett. When I was brought in I was in various management positions, and then became CEO. I never dreamed of being a CEO, I just wanted to make a great product that we were proud of. One day after working very hard for years I found myself sitting in that role. I tried to make the best choices I could for our team and customers.
What’s the process of having a great idea to getting it out the door?
This could be a book… There are so many pieces of this massive puzzle no one ever thinks about! Most importantly, commitment from incredibly talented people is crucial. Hard work, focus, and simply finding a way to make it happen. And that’s just getting it out the door… There are many more obstacles after that to make “it” successful.
What need was the Notion intended to meet?
An easy-to-use notation software product with great playback. We always wanted to lead with the sound results, others always lead with the printed results.
At the time, did you have any data supporting the need for this product?
Kind of, but none that would have made a difference. It was more of a “we want to build this and we are” mentality. However, when we released Notion for iPad we did have more data that helped us realize the opportunity. We knew there was a great opportunity for the iPad version and it did pay off with great results, as well as being featured in an Apple ad campaign… one of our proudest moments.
What was the biggest challenge? Major roadblocks?
I’ll be honest, at different times in our company history, it was different issues, such as; ego’s, red tape, lack of experience, internal politics, indecision, cooperation, budgeting, forecasting, etc. It felt like everything at different times, but when it came to making Notion the product, that sometimes felt like the easiest and clearest part. Once we finally got a team that was focused in one direction we were pretty incredible for such limited resources. Then, our biggest roadblocks became time, resources, really good competitors, and market factors.
At the time of its conception, how did you define success?
I think that was part of the problem early on, I think everyone had a different opinion of what success was. Some would have said revenue, others would say a great product, and some were just worried about other things. However, for the first iPad version of Notion, we had a clear goal “Be the first-ever notation app for iOS and make it as solid as the desktop version that it worked alongside of.”
How did you guys come together to build it?
Notion Music from 2003-2013 had some incredible people involved in it, at different times and in different ways. We had people from all over the world come together in Greensboro, NC and created something special. All played a role in getting us where we are today. I was teaching guitar and film scoring classes at Elon University using competitor notation products and then met a co-founder, we randomly struck up a conversation one day. Once she found out I was very knowledgeable with Finale and Sibelius I found myself working at Notion Music just a few weeks later. However, like many businesses, there are highs and lows, and unfortunately, after Notion v2 we had to make some major changes and lost a great number of our team and redesigned the product. The final team, which basically stayed totally intact for the last 5-6 years and all the way through the PreSonus acquisition, were put together based on their versatility, skills, and work ethic. An amazing team: Ben, Chris, Eric, Kyle, Richard, Brian and Brian, Josh, Patrick, Kris, Allison…we all worked hard and had fun.
How did you feel when it was complete?
Like most software products… Notion is not complete, and will never be complete.
When you think about the last 25 years, how does it make you feel seeing how far PreSonus has come?
Just looking at the last 6+ years I have been here it makes me very proud to see what we all have accomplished. The PreSonus team is remarkable, and the stories I have heard about the previous 20 years can go from one extreme to the other. I’ve given responses to those stories like, “How did you even stay in business?” to, “Amazing, how did you accomplish that?”..and of course “Rick did what!?” But looking at 25 years, I’m proud of PreSonus and the amazing team here, and I’m proud of the Notion team that worked through so much adversity to have an opportunity to even be here.