A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Ava is a travel ukulele with an on-board speaker system. Its design is composed of modern curves accented with traditional themes, merging at the crossroads of form and function.
Borne out of an adventuring musician's need for a compact instrument without compromised sound, Ava easily fits into a backpack so you never have to leave your instrument behind while traveling!
Let's take a look at key benefits that make Ava stand out from its competitors:
Ultra Portable: Made for travel, spontaneity, and adventures of every kind, Ava features a sleek, minimal design that measures just 16" lengthwise with a retracted forearm rest.
The Turnkey Tuner System is located in the rear, saving valuable space that would otherwise be taken up by a headstock.
Ultra Powerful: Ava features a powerful on-board speaker that amplifies vibrations from the strings, playing warm chords and yet clear bright individual notes. Concert Mode projects a bold sound perfect for jamming out with friends -- no bulky external amp needed!
Ultra Durable: Designed for the most ambitious of travelers, Ava's body is made of a high-performance polymer composite blend selected for its scratch-resistant, shatter-resistant, and warp-resistant properties. Rest assured, your Ava is adventure-proof!
After an unfortunate incident with a checked baggage inspection that resulted in a broken ukulele, Candace created Ava to combine her wanderlust with easy access to her favorite instrument.
Other designs are either bulky and fragile, lack sound quality and/or volume, or are "silent" without external amplification.
Along the Ava journey we met Zach, who also had his ukulele broken during his flight, when airport baggage staff manhandled his checked bag with his uke inside.
As one of our first beta testers, Zach has been flying all over the country for the past year testing Ava's durability and taking advantage of its portability.
Ava's forearm rest is able to extend and retract. While extended, it's in an optimal position to be tucked under the strumming arm, which allows for comfortable playing.
Ava is only 16" long with the forearm rest retracted (for compact storage), which means it can fit into an everyday backpack.
Ava's Control Panel features:
Sliding Volume Control
LED indicator for battery status
Micro-USB recharge port (battery lasts up to 6 hrs)
1/8" Headphone Jack Output (3.5mm)
Ava's patent-pending space-saving Turnkey Tuner system is located in the lower back of the instrument, saving space that would otherwise be taken up by a headstock.
You tune with a magnetic "key", which easily fits on the tuning pegs. After you're done, the key goes back into the body of the instrument. The key is also held in magnetically, so it doesn't fall out.
Ava has a soprano-sized fretboard, though it's about 5" shorter than a traditional soprano ukulele and has a much thinner side profile.
Tala's lovely demo of her original song, "Summer of Love"
Here's Daniel from Circuits and Strings with a demo of Ava's sound and functionality!
Zach travels a lot for work and has been beta testing Ava for the past couple months, while flying all over the states.
Instead of starting out with a budget and constraining a product’s design to that budget, Ava was designed from the ground up to be highly portable, aesthetically pleasing, and sound great — with manufacturing methods a traditional ukulele maker would never dream of using — then priced after. With this method of “design without constraints”, we don’t cut corners and we don’t compromise on quality and user experience.
Delivering a product that exceeds expectations in quality and performance is our #1 priority.
Each Ava comes with a soft gig bag for extra protection. (Note: The gig bag pictured is also a prototype and the final product will be of higher quality.)
The backer rewards will go towards funding manufacturing, assembly, and fulfillment of Ava ukuleles.
Announcing our first stretch goal: custom laser etching! Once we hit $70k in funding, this option will be available as an add-on. The available engraving space is the wood (bamboo) portions. Simply add $5 or $10 to your pledge depending on the size of your design ($5 for designs covering less than half the available surface area, $10 for designs covering more than half the available surface area). Vector file for engraving area can be found here, please submit designs to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Full Name : Laser Engraving" in the subject.
If you are interested in other future versions of Ava such as lefty and/or tenor, please help us out by filling out this survey.
Ava has multiple tooled components, so a majority of the budget will go towards tooling and assembly. We also have established a conservative buffer both in terms of budget and time to allow for iterations and extra testing to bring you the best possible version of Ava.
We've outlined a realistic timeline for developing Ava.
We expect to fulfill orders by April 2019. There is a possibility we could begin fulfillment by end of 2018, and have included extra buffer time to bring you the best possible version of Ava.
“Novako” comes from Nova (sun/star) and Ko (company). We are the star company, made up of everyday stars like you. We serve as a friendly reminder to shine bright and be your best selves.
Novako Music was founded as a commitment to supporting musicians by building them up through community and collaboration in order to increase exposure. We'll always encourage people to jam out together and share music with each other. For those who are on-the-fence about learning to play ukulele, we hope to be the tipping point in that decision!
Ava was conceptualized and invented by design engineer, Candace Chen. Chen is a classically trained pianist and violinist, and self-taught on the ukulele and guitar, with experience teaching music. She holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from MIT and has been designing, engineering and manufacturing products at her entire career.
Her work has been a part of beloved products used by millions for brands such as Apple, Jawbone, and PXG. In addition, she has consulted for multiple startups in the consumer and sports tech fields in designing products people love at scale.
Personal projects include electric violins, electric ukuleles, an electric longboard, a hammering robot and a modified electric pocket bike. She is also an avid traveler, who had her own ukulele broken in flight.
Launched in partnership with
Risks and challenges
Every custom-manufactured product has its own risks and challenges and Ava is no different.
Ava has the typical risks associated with both musical instruments (intonation, action, dimensional stability) as well as electronics products. We've left enough timeline buffer to be able to retool and address any unexpected manufacturing issues that arise.
Supply chain is also a risk since there are roughly 40 unique parts in Ava, many of them coming from different suppliers. We've flushed out our BOM with component shipping and assembly costs in order to address this risk. We've also left enough monetary buffer in the budget to address unexpected supply chain costs.