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Startup Corner: Seth Kitchen, Collaboarator LLC

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Minimally viable product …
A music collaboration app on Windows, Android and iOS. If I’m a guitarist with no one to jam with, I can post my riff on a GPS-based feed. Then, anyone within say 50 miles of me can see it and add their vocals/drums/bass/etc. on top of it through the in-app editor. When it’s a professional-sounding track it can be entered into virtual battle of the bands competitions, people can buy it like they would on iTunes, and Collaboarator will put the most “upvoted” songs on its branded Spotify/Pandora playlists.

Problem solving …
Imagine your son, daughter, brother or sister just graduated high school, and they tell you they want to go into the music industry. That can be a nightmare because it’s easy for early musicians to get lost in the crowd, it’s hard for them to find people to work with and they are squeezed for an average of 85% of their digital music revenue. We give the artists local exposure through the GPS feed and cut out the middlemen in production, distribution and streaming to put more money back in the artists’ pockets.

Seed money …
Thirty-five thousand dollars. [Editor’s note: Includes $30,000 in startup capital through the Efactory’s accelerator program.]

Hurdles overcome …
The biggest hurdle has been designing and building the entire app with only two people, while being a full-time student. Coming from a technical background and learning business and marketing also has been a struggle, since there is never an exact solution. There also have been 20 accelerator, pitch and program rejections.

Next phase …
We launch in late June. We are building up an initial user list such that on day one we can have many users working together. We also are going through the Efactory accelerator to continue learning about business, learn from industry mentors and finalize the complicated copyright law.

Pivots …
Initially, we planned just to sell songs and collect finder’s fees from big labels. From interviews, it was clear the labels could just go around us after finding people on our platform and many independent music artists are not interested in signing their rights away. We learned all about distribution, editing, streaming, search and subscription – and how we could incorporate them into our app for more revenue.

Biggest mistake …
Lengthening my PowerPoint presentation before a final pitch because I was a little short. I ended up not being able to show my last three slides, and one of the judges awarded me no points for those slides. Even though I was higher on average for the other slides, I did not place – a $30,000 mistake.

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