Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 8: The Culmination

Sunday, August 3, 2014 4:17 am

In the book I’m reading discussing start-ups, the author writes, “there are only two emotions felt as an entrepreneur: terror and euphoria.” With my summer experience at an end, I can say I am glad to go back to experiencing more than two emotions!

Things at were certainly a learning and growing experience as the summer went on. We went into the summer with a specific vision, but as the summer went on, we began to finely craft our vision into a specific idea. is an ever growing and evolving company, so our work is never or nowhere near finished, but I would most certainly say we’ve made lots of progress from the start of the summer.

The best part of the summer was certainly the euphoria. Whenever we would talk to a very optimistic client, have a meeting with someone in the industry that loved our product, or run into someone that has just been reading up on our company for awhile (shoutout Michael Chatgield!) we would feel extremely positive and excited about . The worst part was the terror. To give a specific example, I made a bone-headed mistake as an intern by reaching out to an artist that was already on the platform… asking him if he wanted to get on the platform. It looked extremely unprofessional and it was totally my fault. Moments like that are when you feel extremely afraid how your boss or the client will react. Fortunately for me, both of them just kind of laughed it off and razzed me about it.

The most exciting part of my internship was when we had our end of internship meeting and we discussed what steps we should be taking forward as a team. It was great to see that everyone on the team had a similar vision in mind, a goal that we all wanted to work towards and achieve. It was great to see all of us come together and have the same ideas. As Ben Horowitz said, “the difference between a hallucination and a vision is that other people can see the vision.” We have that group vision; it’s very exciting.

The biggest learning experience was simply working with these individuals hands on. Getting industry experience, hearing respected opinions, and just being around fellow entrepreneurs was the best classroom experience I could have imagined. There’s no way I could have gotten this kind of experience in anywhere but New York, from any other company than . I’m extremely proud of my efforts this summer and equally as satisfied with the progress we made.

Week 7: Kent as an entrepreneur

Sunday, August 3, 2014 4:16 am

As cliche as it has been somewhat of a journey for me in terms of entrepreneurial endeavors. When I was in high school and as a freshman at Wake I managed my own small business, running the entire sales, promotion, and distribution of the product myself. This experience not only have me an insight on running my own business, but it incidentally boasted my ego, making me believe I was extremely ahead of the game in terms of entrepreneurial endeavors. This summer athas definitely been my rude awakening!

My experience thus far has highlighted the massive importance of being familiar with technology. Whether that being an ability to build software, code programs, or just have a strong knowledge of the two to fit in, it’s imperative to the startup industry to understand the tech side of things. Although my knowledge of distribution, promotion, and overall product management does have it’s value, it does not hold it’s weight compared to the value this technology provides. For most start ups, if you don’t have the technology platform, you simply don’t have the start up.

I’ve also been reading Ben Horowitz book, “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” which discusses many of the roadblocks entrepreneurs will face as they develop a start up. I commonly find myself nodding my head in agreement as I read his book. One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is to be fully honest with yourself. Whether that means you have to say, “this isn’t working” or “actually they were right” or “I made a mistake,” it’s crucial to be brutally honest. Acting like something isn’t true or something isn’t correct only leads to failure as an entrepreneur, so this self awareness is highly important.

Week 6: Challenges

Monday, July 21, 2014 8:22 pm

I would be remiss to say that everything at has been smooth sailing and challenge free. Like any start-up, especially a tech start-up, the organization will have some bumps in the road whether it’s developing their application or facing competitors. Our two biggest challenges come from opposing the current music-distribution option, iTunes, and dealing with the restrictions an artist ma have form their label. When on-boarding artists to our platform, we commonly tell them the benefits our product offers compared to iTunes. First and foremost, all our clients receive consumer data about their fanbase, something iTunes does not offer. Although this information is extremely useful for planning tours or promoting merchandise, we’ve realized that many artists do not know the power of these benefits and fail to maximize on them. Also, many artists enjoy how mainstream their music is when it is available on iTunes. We have tried to tell these artists that this is not a truly efficiently way to sell music, as very few people actually go on iTunes to browse music or impulsively buy an album. We’ve found that people go to iTunes just like they go to the pharmacy; they have an idea of what they would like or they know what they specifically need. Regardless, many artists want to stay on iTunes in hopes they will get the casual music-listener to pick up their album or single. Additionally, we’ve faced many challenges getting artists onto the platform if they are already signed to a record label. Record labels have many restrictions when it comes to album distribution and merchandise sales, so the type of freedom that we offer at is not fully utilized by these artists. For that reason, many artists signed to labels are hesitant to transition over to our platform as they are unsure how their labels will handle it. Going against our competitors of iTunes and record labels have caused some challenges for , but we are still very happy to see the progress we’ve made on-boarding artists to our platform.

Week 5: The Culture

Friday, July 11, 2014 9:52 am

Working has certainly been a unique and insightful experience for many reasons. One of the reasons is that the company was founded and started by a successful musician in . Ryan, who is the director and leader of our company, leads our group of young individuals. He’s the one that ultimately makes certain decisions regarding on-boarding artists and analyzing data. We are all very comfortable with this as Ryan has proven himself by being successful in both music but also in his investing and former entrepreneurial endeavors.

However, we have had issues in handling failure or mis-communication. Their have been occasions where it has been mis-communicated on what has been expected out of someone, while also losing contact of someone after a project has not gone over successfully. We have worked independently on some assignments and in groups for other assignments, and when we have worked in groups our communication has been much better. Due to Ryan’s travel schedule, whether performing at shows or going to take care of media arrangements, their will be times where we cannot meet up as a group and we work on projects alone. However, after poor communication on two of these assignments we have agreed it is best to have meetings to determine direction and map out goals. We have learned that whether it is working in a group or individually, it is important for their to be clear guidelines of what’s expected and what our goals are.

Week 4: Where I’m at so far

Saturday, June 28, 2014 12:47 am

My time at so far has been very insightful. Whether it has been working with artists or working in marketing, I would say that I have already learned quite a bit through the experience. Recently, we’ve been looking at the best ways to promote and market our platform. We have been compiling data on which tech and music blogs have the highest rates of traffic while also finding out the cost to advertise on these sites. From there we found a ratio of reach-to-cost and will execute our marketing approach based off the sites that have the best ratio. Trying to transition artists to our platform have continued to be difficult, as commonly artists view our conversation as more of a sales pitch rather than a mutually beneficial relationship. This entire process has showed me how difficult it is to get someone to lean off of such a monopolized market, such as music distribution (iTunes), while transitioning to something that is more innovative or developing. I truly believe that our platform and technology is superior to our competitors, but I’ve realized that people simply are afraid to leave the publicly accepted and accustomed to path. By the end, I would like to see more and more artists transitioning over to our platform. Additionally, we are also beginning to offer our platform to a number of Shopify store owners, as we believe our customer information platform would be highly-desired by ecommerce based retailers. By the end of the summer, I hope to gain more experience in marketing and data analysis, while also at developingrelationships with other entrepreneurs that our company’s founder, Ryan, knows. Some of the best experiences at work have come from group conference calls with other tech start-ups or entrepreneurs, and by the end of the summer I’d like to make contact and network through them as well.

Week 3: Startin growing pains

Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:59 am

got it’s start through the personal inspiration of the founder two years ago while on tour (as mentioned in other posts is a Grammy-award winning R&B artist). performed a show in San Francisco to a les than sold out crowd. After the show, sent out a tweet wondering where all his fans were since all his previous shows in San Francisco had been sold out. Many of his fans responded back to him saying that they had no idea he was even performing that evening. This experience inspired to come up with a solution for artists to know where their fans are located, come up with a platform to communicate with their fans on a full-proof level (more advanced or personal than Twitter), while also obtaining a large amount of consumer data about their fans. , a former label executive at Roc-A-Feller records that currently works in the digital marketing division at Verizon, and the two hit the ground running with hopes of starting the company. The two began going on investment rounds to help fund their project and were approached by Ben Horowitz. After a few discussions, Ben agreed to come on as an angel investor, overseeing the development of the application while also investing his funds into the company.

Some of the biggest growing pains that the company has felt have been to due to being a tech-company in a climate where technology changes every single day. For instance, when Ryan started working on the coding for the application, they were doing it all on software that would be best used on Apple’s iOs 6 platform. However, they were a few months into the coding the application when apple then upgraded al of their products to iOs 7. It was then Ryan and realized that technology is ever-changing and they would have to develop an application that is universally accepted and does not alter despite changes in the base-technology. Additionally, Ryan and Nathan have had issues when working with graphic designers and some other programmers who are either unfamiliar with the technology or are not willing to think outside the box when developing a user/customer interface. Since this application rivals iTunes, one of the most used mobile applications in the world, the customer interface needs to be very approachable and user-friendly. Unfortunately, many of the graphic designers that they previously worked with could not perform at a level Ryan and Nathan had hoped to develop this product. As of recent though, things at have been running smoothly and they continue to expand each day.

Week 2: How I contriubte.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:12 am

is relatively smaller start-up at the moment. There is a grand total of ten of us working for including the three interns. Of the three interns, there’s myself, a boy from Boston College and one other from Elon University. The boy from Elon, Adam, does mainly film content for the company as Ryan isproducing a mini-documentary for his fans that show the development of his album and as it continues to grow. The other intern from Boston College, Will, works with me in the platform development and expansion division. Then there are two directors of media, Conrad and Andre, which oversee the development of the application by adding new features to the app. Christina is an events planner the works on the scheduling of Ryan’s speaking engagements while also planning events for crowd-funding to raise funds fo. Ben Horowitz is a member of our team, but I’ve yet to work with him as he is more of an angel investor that does the majority of his work by raising funds for or overseeing operations from a distance. Ryan andNathan are the two directors of the company, overseeing every operation that goes on with Ryan dabbling in some coding and computer programming as well. The last member of our team is Florian, a computer programmer that lives in Germany that oversees all of the software and completes thetechnical development of the application.

I would say that the project I’m working on is pivotal to the development of as it increases the number of people using the application, while also increasing the functionality of the app by making users profitable from the app. I recently helped on-board an artist. After acquiring information regarding her fan-base, such as where her fans are located, the age group of her fans, what social media platforms they are using, and the average amount each fan has spent on one of her products, we helped her make decisions regarding on where to tour and what merchandise to develop, while also deciding which social media platforms we should push this information on. This is a very routine experience for me, and these instances help develop as we see artists using our platform to make better business decisions and thus be more profitable due to our application. Each of us play a very important role in the start-up, and I’m very excited to continue to hit expectations as I work for.

 

Week 1: Starting off

Thursday, June 12, 2014 3:48 am

This summer I will be interning with a start-up music-tech company by our name. It’s a music-purchasing platform run by a multimedia conglomerate. The company was founded by Grammy-award-winning artist and is backed by venture capitalist Ben Horowtiz.

I am one of three interns working for the company this summer. I am working in the data analytics and platform expansion division of the company. Primarily, I work on bringing different artists and musicians to our music platform. Additionally, I look at the sales and fan-base of these groups to then make marketing decisions based off merchandise sales while also determining where to schedule tours based off fan-base populations in specific areas.

My expectations for the summer are to gain a wide amount of knowledge regarding marketing, data analysis, while also seeing what kind of procedures are done when looking at expanding a start-up company. Ryan, the founder of our company, is continuing to go on trips to obtain rounds of funding for the company. Being apart of a company that is brand new is very exciting, and I’m expecting to see some changes as we grow and expand. I would like to learn more and more about marketing, sales pitching, developing business models, and creating monetizing strategies off marketing tactics.

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