You know the person who sits behind a concert pianist to turn the page of the musical score? If Tom Borwick, ’10, gets his way, that person will soon be out of business.

Borwick recently took top honors during the Robins School of Business’ Business Pitch Competition with his pitch for Vivo, an electronic tablet that stores and displays digital sheet music. 

Borwick was one of five student finalists from an original field of 27 who were invited to deliver a 10-minute pitch to a panel of eight local entrepreneurs, business executives, and consultants. The annual Business Pitch Competition is co-sponsored by the University of Richmond Entrepreneurship Club and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As the winner, Borwick received $3,500 to help get his idea off the ground.

Borwick has already identified a Chinese manufacturer to produce Vivo and is working with developers to refine its software so that it can use sound recognition to automatically turn the page of a musical score. He says it will also be a valuable tool for music students, describing Vivo as, “the Rosetta Stone of learning how to play a musical instrument.” Eventually, Vivo may even include a digital metronome and tuner.

Though there are similar devices available to display sheet music, he says the sound recognition component is “the way to make [Vivo] the million-dollar idea.”

Borwick began working on Vivo about six months ago, before he heard about the Business Pitch Competition. He got the idea while watching a concert where a musician dropped his sheet music. “Orchestras across the world need to stop and turn the page,” he says. “There are a huge number of people who have music as a passion. My job is to make their job easier.”

Vivo will come preloaded with about 1,000 musical scores in the public domain, and will retail for about $300. He believes there’s a huge market for Vivo, citing “eight to 12 million people learning how to play an instrument and 40,000 orchestras around the world.”

Borwick played the bassoon when he was younger. With Vivo, he hopes to make the experience of playing a musical instrument accessible to all.

Borwick, who is majoring in business, economics and leadership studies, has been amazed at the interest Vivo has generated since he won the pitch competition. He’s had multiple daily meetings with investment groups and with lawyers to discuss his idea. “The feedback I’ve had is astonishingly positive,” he says.

He estimates he will need to raise $600,000 from investors to bring Vivo to market. The $3,500 he won in the competition is going toward prototypes and to legal fees.

Borwick, who is from London, chose to attend the University of Richmond based on its ranking among the top 15 business schools in America. “I am interested in international business and there is a feeling you had to have a good understanding of American culture to succeed in international business,” he explains.

He has not been disappointed with his choice. He credits his finance professors with giving him valuable advice about how to make Vivo accessible and profitable. Through the Jespson School of Leadership Studies, he says he’s learned valuable public-speaking skills. And while working on his business plan for Vivo, Borwick sought help from the University of Richmond School of Law’s Intellectual Property and Transactional Law Clinic.

“There is a huge amount of work that goes into creating a business plan,” he says. “Now, it’s about getting out there and meeting people and finding investors.”

After graduation, he hopes to make Vivo his career –– already, he is spending more than 30 hours per week trying to bring his idea to fruition. If Vivo does not pan out, he hopes to return to London to work in investment banking or mergers and acquisitions.

“I plan to be doing a lot of business internationally to take advantage of the Richmond experience,” he says. “Coming from a top 15 business school in America is pretty good wherever you go.”