CEO Sit Down: Justin McAfee on Wright One Inc.

Look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a car?

For us mere mortals, thinking about riding around in a flying car is absurd. For Justin McAfee, it is a radical, yet feasible idea. When I first heard about his company’s concept to shake up the way that we transport ourselves, I knew that I had to hear more. Justin is a passionate entrepreneur, who has had an interest in flying since he was just 12 years old. His incredible drive and eagerness to change the world has led Justin to starting his company Wright One Inc. I look forward to the day that I can use Justin’s technology myself- flying to my favorite restaurant with friends and returning back home before the sun sets. Have I peaked your interest? Then you should continue reading.


Justin! Tell us about yourself!

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Hello, you don’t know me, but you will soon.

I’m the guy who wants to change your perception of flying and change the way we think about e-mobility in the future. Wright One, Inc. is a company bringing Jetson grade engines to reality by rethinking the way we consider thrust applications for air travel tomorrow.

I come from an aviation background with five pilot ratings and more travel horror stories than I’d like to recount. I have a mechanical engineering degree, and a sure path to prototyping to get us towards the flying car faster. Wright One, Inc. is paving the way into an era built for the Jetson’s!

“Dans les champs de l’observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” 

“In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

I graduated from college with a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering after 6 years of undergrad schooling and transferring twice- once I left for personal reasons, the second I failed out of engineering and transferred to another university to complete my mechanical engineering degree. It was my final transfer to Mercer University where I started to really dive into entrepreneurship and pitched a business which got the attention of a graduate professor. This happen chance meetup led me to the skill of commercialization which I am continuing to refine to this day not only with Wright One, but also with 2bird Masks!

Screen Shot 2021-01-06 at 9.08.08 PMThis business I pitched never took off, but the education I received solidified my love for entrepreneurship. I also started to learn about the power of constant adaptation and change.. “I remember when the dean yelled at me, saying “You can’t take anymore grad level classes unless you’re in the MBA program.” I’d been taking them for three semesters without an issue. On top of that, I was taking courses at two separate campuses (an hour and a half away from each other) to attend weekly classes. I wanted to take these courses so badly I took 18 credit hours at one campus and then added my independent studies from the separate campus on top of my courses to take these classes. If you want something bad enough you are going to have to work to achieve the goal, because no one is going to hand you your goal on a silver platter, you are going to have to take it for yourself!

I have personally started four businesses, and only one of them has been successful thus far – my photography company, Justin McAfee Photography (jusmcafeephoto.com). This doesn’t mean I don’t give up with a dying business, it means I continue to push harder and seek to understand what went wrong with each iteration of starting a business. Then use the knowledge to build the next opportunity forward.

What was the inspiration behind Wright One, Inc.?

I have been working on the idea of Wright One, Inc. for over a decade, since I was 12 and started talking with my father about the idea of magnetically levitating cars. This was also the same year my father took me flying in our twin engine Piper Aztec and I nearly crashed the plane into Lake Conroe near Houston, Texas doing 45 degree steep bank turns. I can also remember the serial number of the airplane as N54259 – this number has been my favorite number ever since (my second favorite number is 3).

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This was the very first airplane I think my family purchased back in Houston, Texas in 2000 or 2001? You would have to ask my mom about it… notice the tail number.

Wright One, Inc. is a company focused on industry development of future flying mobility solutions. As a company we know there is going to be huge technological leaps geared at developing ‘flying car’ solutions. But we don’t think the ‘car’ aspect of the vehicle (where you drive on a road) will be the end-all solution. What’s more, we believe people would rather have a strict vertical take off or landing (VTOL) solution where you fly directly to your home and land in the driveway (think of a helicopter landing in your driveway) based on customer interviews and based on the versatility of the helicopter. Wright One, Inc. intends to be the core of how the development of the flying car ecosystem begins.

Some Background

When you look at the aviation industry and the way people are traveling you begin to see a fractured element. There needs to be a more customized and sophisticated logistics approach to air travel for the common person. Traveling in bulk containers across the nation are becoming crowded and cities are developing at a quickening rate to catch up with our travel system. You can see this fracture at dense metropolitan airports like Dallas/Fort Worth International, JFK International, and Chicago O’Hare International. Instead of flying from a small city to a dense airport to fly to another hub and then to another small city, we need to cut out the middle two locations to not only make it more convenient for traveling but also more efficient from an energy standpoint.

In my opinion, the engine is the key to kicking off this spur in future development for more customized flying vehicles. The engine is the reason why we need to rethink how we, as a society are going to think about VTOL and flight possibilities. Currently there are 4 manufacturers that specialize in making these engines for our current mode of transportation. This isn’t going to sustain the innovation rate that is going to be needed for things like space travel to Mars, commercial drone shipping across the country, and my personal favorite super-sonic flight across the globe for one person. We need to have more choice in the engine solutions we can model to our vehicles. That’s where the Orville comes in, this is where this engine will radically start to change the way we think about propulsive devices for the future.

So here is the (multi)billion dollar question: how do you design an engine for future mobility solutions which has ALL the benefits of current combustion engines but has the added value of being able to configure itself to have the best efficiency across multiple points of operation in flight?

Let’s talk about our first product, the Orville, a bit.

This is where Wright One, Inc. is playing. We are changing the way we fly with the Wright Turbine.

Our turbine has a number of advantages :

  • 100% electric
  • Silent
  • No central shaft – less weight, more surface area, and greater thrust

This means for future engine operations, not only can we give you the power you need optimally for cruise flight, but we can also give you the exact amount of power you need for take-off and landing situations as well (whether this is vertical take-off or a rolling take-off).

Go wild – you deserve it, we all do!

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This is one of my favorite photos from the Alaska seaplane trip my dad and I did in 2019 for my birthday. We went to Alaska for 3 or 4 days and got our seaplane rating during that time.

Who are some entrepreneurs that you are inspired by?

It may come as a shock, but I am incredibly inspired by the Wright Brothers. They lived in the days of great titans like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford.

The Wright Brothers fought tooth and nail through patent issues to have their aircraft design be the first one for controlled powered flight. The ideology for being able to make the impossible possible is where my inspiration from the Wright Brothers came from. This is what drove me through my 6 years of engineering school, what drove me to keep pushing after a failing company, and to start a photography business after getting fired from my engineering company and take it to 6-figures within one year with the help of key partnerships.

Entrepreneurship is a beautiful endeavor and is not for the faint of heart. You have to have an exceptionally strong passion for the product you are delivering and you must be in it for the long haul once the business launches. There are no shortcuts in this process.

Stories like these titans and how they got started are inspirations for me, Elon Musk is definitely in that ballpark. Elon Musk did an interview with 60 minutes where he teared up talking about Neil Armstong speaking vehemently against private space companies launching rockets in 2012. Are you going to push past your fears and stand on the shoulders of giants before you?

My father has been a huge source of inspiration for me with Wright One. His passion for flying and for engineering not only set me on a course for Mechanical Engineering when I was thinking about my major, but also got me a job as an airplane mechanic at the age of 16 with a mechanic at our home airport in Burleson, Texas. Since then my family has had 7 aircrafts which we have churned through selling and upgrading to the current one the family has now, a G58 Beechcraft Baron. 

I remember one time where my father and I were flying back from a ski trip where we started in Denver, Colorado. We were taxiing onto the runway and the airplane literally fishtailed as we turned to get lined up. This was a towered airport so we had clearance to take off, but the wildest thing was the runway was completely covered in snow. Once we got up into the air we encountered a super-cooling event where 3 inches of ice began to build up onto the leading surfaces of the airplane. The airplane was ‘so proven’ that the airframe was able to not only take the 3 inches of ice, but made short work of getting rid of the ice even after the event that we didn’t have to stop and wait for the storm to pass.

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This is my dad, the most gutsy pilot imaginable. He has taught me never to stay down. Always get back up and keep fighting, no matter the cost. Always believe in yourself and never let someone crush your dream.

Here we are in two of the airplanes we have owned in the past. The left airplane is a C172 Turbo and the airplane on the right was a Cessna TT-x a composite built aircraft (fastest prop plane on the market at the time flying at over 270 MPH).

I want the freedom to be able to go anywhere, at any time. And I want to be able to do it cheaply with a proven technology. The Orville engine is the first step to realizing this dream, currently operating a Cessna 172 with a glass cockpit is $160 an hour – flying at around 150 mph. For the common person this doesn’t make sense taking into consideration the amount of time and money it takes to get a pilot’s license. We can do better for the 21st century and beyond. The first thing to make air travel, flying cars, a reality – is driving down this hourly operating cost (for a vehicle it’s between the $30 and $50 mark currently).

What has been the biggest challenge in starting Wright One, Inc.?

The biggest challenge we have faced as a team has been structuring the company and getting the math to confirm the concept’s feasibility. We are creating new mathematical models to model the engineering behind the Orville engine. Merging two mature technologies to develop a novel iteration. Nothing groundbreaking, this is just the next step in technological development.

There currently is no text or proven concepts that tie together the mathematics which we are doing with a turbine and an electric motor. They are proven separately, but conjoined the mathematics shape out differently and as a team we realize we are going to need some highly specialized aviators to help confirm this type of math. 

We recently were approached by a venture capitalist here in Boston to start the conversation of working with Wright One, and as the VC was sitting there chatting with me about how we are going to put the engine onto his very light jet body and retrofit some of the components to make the concept work even better he started to realize just how early stage the Orville was currently. This was when he started talking about his team, which comprises four of the SR-71 Blackbird team who formerly worked for Lockheed Martin’s famed skunk works to give you the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft. A record which has been unbroken since its inception in 1966.

One of the engineers is wanting to help us develop the math and the concept to bring you the engine we promise. One which can take on the current jet engine and bring you the next wave of technological innovations!

What do you find interesting about new technologies, like the one you are working on?

The potential.

But if you look at new technologies, a perfect example is the Detroit Auto Show every year. There are new technologies featured every year which capture the imagination and attention of consumers the world over for what is ‘to come’ and what is already here!

The problem with the auto show is the novel technologies don’t really have a plan forward. They show what could possibly be in the industry, but what could become in the future might take in what BMW recently released with their 100 year vision concept vehicle. Meaning that the concept vehicle would be the vehicle which ‘would be released’ (most likely will look significantly different because of market conditions) by BMW 100 years in the future. Another vehicle that is a perfect example is the famous Audi vehicle which was portrayed in i-Robot with Will Smith.

Why can’t we have that car today?

Of course, having been working in the auto industry I can say it’s not as simple as saying let’s design, package and ship it, suppliers don’t want to make a huge jump forward in technology because of the untested materials and huge cost to testing which would need to take place and manufacturers can’t promise that vehicle because if they did, they would be staking their brand equity to push production for the vehicle at such a breakneck speed. Incremental innovation here is the name of the game. Have a product ready for market and push your vision further with scheduled ‘freeze points’ bringing a product to market. Then watch as your competition struggles to keep up with the pace of new technology your company is constantly bringing to market.

So, we get stuck with incremental innovation and this allows for companies to educate (manipulate) customers into future mobility solutions where you know how to use the product over time. Think Apple and their tech hub system. They started with the iPod and now they have the iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, Apple TV, and AirPods all seamlessly working together to bring you entertainment, health services, and a platform to share your creativity with the world. That’s their “Why” as Simon Sinek discusses.

What have been some of the most rewarding moments in your journey with Wright One, Inc.?

The most rewarding part of my journey working on Wright One, Inc. has been working steadily through the process of building the business from the ground up. I’ve done this before with my own photography business, Justin McAfee Photography, and the reward of building the company over time was incredibly fulfilling because I got to see people’s faces directly impacted by my work. But one of the most fulfilling moments was getting to see clients’ faces when I gave them something tangible, like a photo album or a photo print.

The tangibility is what I find to be the most rewarding in the journey. Something people can see, touch, feel, and experience. You can take all of my money in the world, but if I get to see the way that my products impact society on a global scale, I will have achieved a life dream of mine. Change my mind, I dare you.

What is your ultimate goal- blue sky dreams- for the company?

My ultimate goal for Wright One, Inc. is for you – for anyone to be able to travel 7500 miles away for breakfast in the morning and be back in time for lunch. Forget flying cars, what about an affordable supersonic craft for agile, rapid, personal transportation.

More than 100 years ago, everybody said humans would never fly. The Wright brothers set out and proved them wrong. Now, I’m doing the same thing with Wright One by building the first commercially viable flying car with a first of its kind electromagnetic turbine. Most people scoff when I say that, picturing something out of the Jetsons. “Flying car” is almost shorthand for pie-in-the-sky technology we’ll never see in our lifetime! We used to dream of the stars, but technology has only given us social media addiction and increasing isolation. But what if things could be different? What if you could hop in your car, push a few buttons, and fly off to see your friend on the other side of the country, before coming back in time for lunch? With Wright One, we’re bringing the boundless optimism of the space age coupled with the limitless potential of the open sky, directly to your morning commute.

Yes, this means I want to create a flying vehicle, something which you can fly yourself with no expert knowledge, no specialized training, an hour and a half, halfway across the globe to go experience breakfast in new, breathtaking locations.

What does the future of flying look like to you?

For me to answer this question, I think the best thing for me to do is tell you about what flying from a general aviation standpoint looks like.

Let’s say that you want to take you and your 3 best friends to a BBQ place which is 20 minutes flying time (about 60 miles away) south of your current location. Here are the steps which it would take for you to get there:

  1. You and your friends get into the airplane 
  2. You get the weather at your current location and you taxi to the runway (this does not take prior planning – this can be completely on the spot, no pre-planning called a ‘visual flight rating’ clearance)
  3. You take-off and fly to your destination (you don’t even have to communicate with anyone in the air – just the tower at your destination after taking off)
  4. You land
  5. You enjoy BBQ – and at the restaurant I am thinking about, they come pick you up on the tarmac after you land in a golf cart to take you back to the restaurant

Compare this to traveling commercially, how much time do you spend in line dealing with customs… getting to your airplane’s gate. The experience is night and day. The stress is night and day. For the 21st century, traveling should be significantly more stress free, no matter the distance.

So now, I want to answer the question of what does the future of flying look like for me? It looks like driving today. Common place, convenient, and boring. The only difference is that flying will be much more stress free than driving on roadways of today. This is because of the amount of space we have in the air to utilize versus the billions of taxpayer dollars we spend yearly to keep up the infrastructure of our roadways.

Last question, do you believe we will live in a Jetsons world eventually?

12066894I get asked this question all the time, and I guess it’s warranted. I typically answer on the spot saying my concept engine is like the Jetsons’ vehicle because it’s the easiest way of framing the conversation in saying this is a GIANT leap forward in turbine technology.

But really, I adjusted a couple of things and came up with a design which makes the current design obsolete. It happens everyday with mature technologies like the jet turbine. We need an electric equivalent. Thing is, when will the public be ready to fly in an all-electric airplane? Only you can help me answer that question!

Star Wars has single handedly birthed a number of technologies just because of things which were seen on set.

This is the remarkable thing about humanity and one thing I love so much about being human. We are able to connect dots which aren’t supposed to connect. We are in essence the very ‘x’ factor which machines, artificial intelligence, tend to avoid. Don’t forget that when you are afraid a robot may be taking over your job in the future. 

Will we live in a Jetson’s World eventually? My answer is no, we will live in a world inconceivable and 100x better than the Jetson’s World because there are people like you, reading this blog post and making connections which aren’t supposed to be made.

Go make something! And tell me about it!

10 Things I Learned from Starting a Blog and Writing 100 Blog Posts

Eat some cake! It’s time to celebrate!

Wow! We have come a long way haven’t we? Although I wanted to 100 things I learned from starting my blog- trust me that could easily be done- I decided to spare everyone the lengthy reading and narrowed it down to my most significant 10 learning points from this experience. Starting my blog was undoubtably one of the highlights of 2020 for me and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to share it with you all. I thought that this milestone was something to celebrate and I cannot wait for the next 100 articles. But for now, here is what I have learned.


1. The importance of starting and committing 

I had the idea of starting a blog for a while, yet it was a professional mentor of mine who encouraged me to create an online profile for prospective employers to look at. Yes, that is the reason that my blog has a resume and I decided that, even though I have a job now, it still might be interesting for people to know a little bit about my journey. In such a tough job market, I was motivated to do anything that would help me stand out as an applicant and widen my reach to employers. I created not one, but two websites in the process and posted a few articles about my life experiences and professional takeaways. Little did I know that I would become so incredibly passionate about writing and sharing that we would still be here 7 months later! And employed! The reality is, however, I could have kept thinking about starting a blog, had it not been for one night that I took the leap to purchase a domain, roll up my sleeves, and start building the site. There is something incredibly important in committing to an idea and starting, no matter how much you think you know. If the interest is there, just go for it. You have nothing to lose and so much invaluable knowledge to gain. 

2. Learning to continue regardless of readership or engagement 

Cora_II-removebg-previewWhen I started the blog, just having one reader meant so much to me, I would think to myself  “I can’t believe people are invested and engage in what I write!” It felt incredible. However, as time progresses, you naturally expect to see an increase in engagement, readers, followers, subscribers- whatever it may be. You begin to expect more, which can be crushing at times, especially when you have spent 5 hours on an article that you can read in 5 minutes, read by only 5 people. In summation, the process can become increasingly discouraging if you don’t see any progress. This taught me a couple of things. Firstly, to celebrate the little wins and sharing those milestones with others so that they can celebrate with you. I love to post on my Instagram about the interesting places that my readers are reading from- the best by far has been the Seychelles- or how many email subscribers the blog has reached. If you take the time to be grateful for every achievement- like this one!- it will make the process much more enjoyable and encouraging. Another takeaway for me was to reflect on why I was blogging in the first place. Although it started out with professional motives, it has become personally motivated, as I have come to learn how much I have a passion for writing, interviewing, sharing, making collages, and learning. If I remember that I am continuing on with my blog because of how much I love it, I am reminded that I do this for me, first and foremost, not for other’s approval or interest. If someone feels motivated or inspired by my writing, that is the cherry on top. 

3. A plethora of new skills

Ok, when I said you would learn a lot by trying something new, I wasn’t kidding. Here are a few skills that I have honed or learned for the first time in creating my baby- I mean blog. 

  1. Google Analytics and Google Search EnginePeony_52-removebg-preview
  2. Writing with style and voice 
  3. Social media marketing 
  4. Creating a newsletter
  5. Networking
  6. Researching the best website hosts and softwares
  7. Photo editing
  8. Branding
  9. Web design
  10. Phone interviewing
  11. Proofreading and grammar
  12. WordPress software
  13. Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  14. Collaborating with companies to form partnerships
  15. Creating formal deck presentations
  16. Succinct interview note-taking
  17. Crafting my personal elevator pitch 
  18. Coding 
  19. I am sure that I am missing a few here…

4. Human connection is central to my life

Without sounding too dramatic here, this blog has really saved my life. In late July, when I first started the blog, I was completely burnt out. I had spent everyday for two months applying for jobs and having networking calls. I was still mourning the loss of the last two months of my senior year and not being able to graduate on stage with my classmates. Most of all, I missed my friends and my professors. I missed my social job at the library, interacting with friends, acquaintances, and strangers everyday. I felt as though I had no purpose and no one to share my life with anymore. This blog changed that. I was able to motivate myself everyday to work on something that I could call my own and take ownership of. And, most importantly, I was able to interact with people again, from every walk of my life. On my blog, I have had the chance to feature friends that I have only just met, never even in person, to friends from my middle school and everyone in between. Whether it be phone interviews, through social media, or chatting online, it was such a pleasure to connect again in so many different ways. Sharing that on this platform has made it all the better.  

5. Discovering my personal brand and written voice

Starting the blog has allowed me to really reflect on who I see myself as and facilitated a lot of self-discovery. I began to ask myself a lot of questions like “what content would I find interesting? What interests me? What do I like to read about? What is my personal brand? How would I like to appear to others online?” I also began to think about my written voice and who I identified as, as a writer. This process is continually evolving, yet really made me consider, in every decision, how I am able to put my best foot forward and who I want to be.  

6. Pushing my boundaries of productivity, organization, curiosity, and creativity every day

Peony_47-removebg-previewWriting a blog post 3+ times a week has forced me to be incredibly organized in how I approach scheduling and writing my articles. This has led me to consider what days people engage with my posts the most, what my readers enjoy reading, and how I can consistently push the envelope in terms of content, whether it be in the writing style, photos, videos, music, and gifs that I incorporate into my articles. I am forced to constantly look for inspiration in everything and everyone that I meet. Every time that I begin to doubt my ability to come up with creative ideas for content, I look back on all of my articles and feel compelled to push forward no matter what. My friends have also been a support in helping to collaborate with me on articles to diversify the voices on the blog. I am forever grateful for everyone who has contributed in a big and small way!

7. Learning content strategy

In starting my blog, I learned how to constantly iterate and improve both my content, strategy, and processes. Here are some insights about my blog that I have gathered so far:

  1. Utilizing Google Analytics, Google Search Engine, and internal WordPress analytics, has helped me to decide what external platforms gain the most traffic to my site. Believe it or not, the majority of my readers come from LinkedIn! 
  2. Learning about search engine optimization has been incredibly beneficial to me. Over the past two months I have averaged 12% of my website views as coming from search engines. This month I am on track for even more web clicks!
  3. Looking at trends on when to post. Looks like Monday at 10:00 am is the most popular time for readers on my blog. 
  4. Looking at trends as to what content performs better than others, which, for my blog, tends to be business, entrepreneurship, and fashion related content. 
  5. I have also evaluated what social media posts work better than others. Trust me, photos of people always perform the best!

8. Learning should be a joy versus a task

Screen_Shot_2021-01-21_at_9.20.31_PM-removebg-previewIf you really love something, you are going to want to learn more about it and dive deeply into how to constantly improve and evolve. I find that this was a good learning experience that will help me for the future. If something feels like a chore, then it’s probably not a passion or intense interest. If you are someone who is looking to find a passion of your own, this is a good litmus test. 

9. Better understanding current and future industry landscapes 

Starting my blog and writing interesting content has forced me to be engaged in current trends, culture, news, and events. It has encouraged me to read more news, discover more insights, and speak with people that are industry experts to understand where the future is headed. Articles that have allowed me to take a deep dive into learning more about the complexity of our world have been some of my favorites, including this article on TikTok fame, this post about the future of modern luxury retail, and this piece on cryptocurrency banking. The world is a playground, so make sure to use the monkey bars!

10. I am capable of literally making something out of nothing

When the going gets tough, I just get tougher. I am able to create something of value out of the resources around me and that is pretty special. Just making lemonade out of lemons over here baby! Now you get out there too. 

 

“drivers license” – A Case Study on Why the Song Topped the Charts

A TikTok recipe for smashing records and achieving the #1 spot on Spotify’s Global Top 50

If you haven’t heard the song “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo you have probably been hiding under a rock somewhere. Since Rodrigo’s official debut single came out, the song has accumulated over 160 million streams in just 2 weeks. The love song even broke a Spotify record for the most streams in a day for a non-holiday song with over 17 million global plays. We might expect these record breaking streaming numbers from big stars in the industry such as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, or Ariana Grande, but it seems as though Rodrigo has sky rocketed out from obscurity, the majority of her prior releases being the soundtrack from Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. So how did this happen exactly? My take on the matter- a story, melody, culture, rumor… and Tiktok.

“drivers license” is an intimate narrative that follows the journey of a young teen who grapples with getting her drivers license alone, rather than with her, now, ex-boyfriend. The ballad begins with the sound of an ignition starting that blends into an intense, steady beat. As Rodrigo describes her plans for their future being crushed by her love moving on, the song continues to build with a palpable energy and strong belting. The ballad reaches its pinnacle at the bridge with layered, breathy vocals which admit to still being in love with the one who has moved on. Undeniably artful, the song channels the lyrical mastery of Taylor Swift and the sound and production quality of Lorde. Without a purely beautiful song, there would seldom be a hit. 

However, there are over 50 million songs on Spotify– what makes this one chart topping? 

There are a few factors at play here, the first and foremost being the power of the increasingly popular video-sharing social media app TikTok. TikTok currently has over 1.5 billion total downloads, making it the seventh-most downloaded app of the 2010s. When users create a video they can choose any song as their soundtrack as well as create their own audio for videos. This is what makes TikTok the perfect place for music artists, as you allow others to evangelize your music organically. When a song on TikTok gets associated with a trend or dance that others recreate and share on their own profiles, the song naturally spreads throughout the TikTok community. TikTok’s nature also makes you want to get in on what is popular and trending. If you hear a song more than three times on your “For You” page, you are going to want to do a little search to hear the whole thing- just a quick switch to the Spotify app.

“drivers license” was a perfectly positioned spark that ignited a wildfire. 

Olivia-Rodrigo-1610556343To date, “drivers license” has been used in over 1 million TikTok videos, that has helped aid in its Spotify fame, showing that fans are not only engaged in listening, but also in the narrative of the song and how it is incorporated in their own lives a.k.a in their TikTok filmmaking. This is a testament to two factors in particular: Rodrigo’s young fanbase being the main users on TikTok, 32.5% of users being ages 10-19, and the culture of todays youth who resonate with the messaging within the song. Although it might seem like a stretch to connect the two, according to the American Psychological Association, Gen Z is 27% more likely than other generations to report their mental health as fair or poor. Couple that with months of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a prevalent, casual “hookup” culture in young America, this song is used by those on TikTok for a reason- it not only relevant to them, it resonates deeply with them. 

One aspect of our culture that defies age, however, is the love of gossip and rumor. What undeniably helped the song propel itself to the top of the charts are the breadcrumbs that Rodrigo gives the listener. The ballad’s descriptive lyrics have led mega-fans to pull out their drawing boards and get to work. It isn’t a far leap to guess that the ex-boyfriend within the narrative is Joshua Bassett, Rodrigo’s rumored ex-boyfriend who worked closely with her on the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Yet, going even further, news outlets and Rodrigo’s TikTok fans began immediately speculating about the connection between the lyrics “that blonde girl” who is “so much older than me” and Bassett’s current girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter. This interest undoubtably increased engagement, not only in TikTok hypothesis videos, but online searches and internet investigating. And the best PR move Rodrigo could have made is not saying a word about it.

“I totally understand people’s curiosity with the specifics of who the song’s about and what it’s about, but to me, that’s really the least important part of the song,” she says. “It’s resonating with people because of how emotional it is, and I think everything else is not important.” she mentions in a Billboard article. The rumors and intrigue go on. 

What can I say? “drivers license” is truly a perfect storm, but a storm that could not have been possible without such perfect alignments. A beautiful song, a viral-inducing marketing platform, some gossip, and a primed audience that has finally found the words that speak for its broken heartedness. I give that three words. 

Well played Olivia. 

Prashant on Becoming a Music Producer and Getting 1 Million Spotify Streams

Get the first interview exclusive of Prashant- the Spotify beat maker. 

Making music never seemed to be in Prashant’s plan. Although Prashant has always had a passion for listening- cutting holes to wire up his sweatshirts to listen during High School classes- science has always been his primary focus. While majoring in biochemistry in college, Prashant happened upon music production by what seemed like fate. His freshman college dorm room is the birthplace of Prashant’s first exposure to music production, after a friend shared a track he made on Garageband. Intrigued by creating beats himself, Prashant started playing around with the Garageband music creation software. As Prashant’s interest quickly grew, he found that he wanted to take his basic knowledge to the next level, installing a bootleg version of FL studio to get him there. Sitting on the bus, on his way home for holiday break is where Prashant first opened the software and thought to himself “wow, now that’s a lot of buttons” 

Prashant has surely come a long way from unknown switches and toggles to audio engineering and producing music in the hip hop, pop, R&B, and EDM genres, clocking in over five years now. His journey to becoming a self-taught producer has been the accumulation of years of hard work. For two summers, Prashant mentions that he made “hot trash,” however this didn’t stop him from spending hours in his dorm creating beats. Prashant made it a point to make as much music as possible during any free time that he had, whether it be during breaks in his internships at the lab or even during class. 

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It was around his Junior year in college that Prashant started to take his music production more seriously, as he began publishing his music online. Prashant cites inspiration from artists that he listened to growing up, such as Linkin Park, The Cure, and Seal as much as his current muses like Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, SAINt JHN, and Future. Every 3 to 6 months, Prashant made sure to publish the best music that he could make at the time. In doing so, Prashant was able to tangibly see his growth as an artist. Before doing this, Prashant mentions that felt he was in a vacuum, without any outside references to how much he had learned over time. And this is one of Prashant’s favorite aspects of being an audio engineer and music producer- seeing the evolution of his craft over time. This also allowed him to see how valuable the time and effort he put into learning, and how it adds up to a real payoff in the sound he creates. What else does Prashant love about doing this work?

“Every now and then you get a beat that you know is going to change some things,” cites Prashant, which is just what happened last year.  

A particular beat that Prashant made in class one day happened to make its way onto a beat tape that he released on Spotify. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, and to him it seemed like just another beat made like clockwork. While he thought that the beat was O.K., six months later it got picked up and put on a Spotify playlist with over 150,000 monthly listeners. Being featured on one playlist, turned into being featured on many playlists and it just snowballed from there. When Prashant hit a personal milestone of 100,000 streams, he humbly doubted the possibility of reaching half a million streams. Soon, Prashant hit this milestone too, and then hit the 1 million stream mark, a feat he never dreamed possible. Prashant’s increasing popularity on Spotify has opened many doors for him, as he has been able to work with new artists and on a slew of new projects. 

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Prashant’s advice for artists and producers aiming to make it big in the music industry is to work hard. “There are no shortcuts to accumulating 1000 hours in the studio and until you experience something with your own two hands, you won’t appreciate that lesson of learning.” Prashant also warns not to be too hard on yourself and your progress as an artist. “You have to fall in love with the process, the journey more than the destination. You have to learn to appreciate the little moments, because if you don’t appreciate those, you won’t be able to appreciate the bigger moments. They will be cool for a moment. But it won’t last long. The moments are only made up of how much value you assign to them,” the reason that Prashant has always made it a point to practice gratefulness with every coming achievement. When he got picked up by the Spotify playlists, he had 24 monthly listeners at the time and was excited to even have that many people listening to his music after not releasing any new material in months. 

Prashant notes that the best advice he has received himself was from his mentor who said to him “whatever music you are making, but don’t make it for who is listening now, make it for someone listening in 3 years. Play the long game,” which has always stuck with him since. One of the reasons Prashant has been so proficient at what he does is because he has taken a considerable amount of time making beats and putting out his best music, believing the first impressions are paramount in the industry. “You only get that curious click from a listener once,” Prashant says.

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In regards to the future, Prashant has a lot of exciting projects that he is working on. As of late, Prashant is less worried about what others think and more worried about whether he likes it and if he is excited about the sound. “2020 was a lot of leg work and now I have a lot of music to release. Give me time and I am a dangerous man” Prashant notes. In 2020 alone he made over 240 beats, yet this year he is focusing more on making some special beats for his listeners.

“A lot can change in a year,”

Prashant says, reflecting on just one year ago when he only had 24 monthly listeners, “I can’t wait to look back on this year to see what more has changed”.

CEO Sit Down: Bert Cumming on Mijimask

Inspiring individuality and identity, while covering up and keeping safe.

Masks have been on everyone’s mind since the beginning of the year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has become an increasing concern for people across the globe. The Center for Disease Control has advised mask usage in helping decrease the spread of COVID-19, as masks provide a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from being transferred from person to person. For many Americans, mask usage is a new concept that makes expressing who we are difficult, because of the area of the face masks cover. Realizing this, Bert Cumming started a business during the past year that focuses on helping children show their personality and individuality with Mijimask.

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 6.08.24 PMBert! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am a junior, and recent transfer, at Babson College.  I am concentrating in finance and entrepreneurship with hopes to one day take one of my companies public on the stock exchange.  I consider myself an innovator and a doer, what I mean by that is that I love to create solutions to all sorts of problems and my motivation drives me to attack these ideas.  

Some hobbies include Jet Skiing over the summer, snowmobiling over the winter and day trading in between.

What is Mijimask and what was the inspiration behind the business?

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 6.23.55 PMMijimask is a customizable face mask designed for children of all ages. Our mission is to provide children the opportunity to “own the pandemic” by wearing a mask that represents who they are. It provides children the ability to customize their own masks thereby providing them a unique mask and gaining confidence. Mijimask allows kids (recommended ages 5+) to customize their masks with attachable and detachable Mijis making them unique to their personalities.  

My inspiration behind the business is to prevent kids from losing their individuality by covering their faces every day.  At young ages, children are susceptible to every little thing they are exposed too, and I do not want their creativity to be effected in the future years because of the pandemic that is happening at this pivotal time in their lives.

What excites you about the business and the business’ mission?

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 6.24.03 PMWhat excites me the most about this business is the direct correlation that comes from COVID-19.  In today’s marketplace supply chains are affected across the globe affecting businesses, and if I can learn to navigate the supply/product market in the hardest time in history, I will be more than capable of navigating the market when COVID-19 does not exist.  

My mission is exciting because I am working towards protecting the creativity of young minds, and this is important to me because I consider my creativity and innovative abilities to be some of the most important traits I have.

What makes Mijimask different from other masks on the market?

Mjimask is different from other masks because it promotes the personality and customization of face masks. Other masks in the market are extremely generic and mass produced with printed designs on them, limiting the rarity of the mask itself. Mijimask makes it nearly impossible to have the exact same mask as anyone else, promoting creativity when designing the mask.

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting and operating the business?

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 6.24.19 PMMarketing has been the most challenging aspect of operating my business.  This is due to the sole reason that I do not know how advertising and marketing work, and I have to spend a majority of my time studying and learning instead of actually doing something since it is costly.  I had previously underestimated marketing as a whole, and now have much more respect for that industry.

What has been the most rewarding moment of starting and operating Mijimask?

The most rewarding moment of starting Mijimask, MaskMate L.L.C. is demonstrated in the picture of the two girls below.  When I received this picture of the kids choosing their mijis to put on their mask, I knew what I was doing was for the right cause and my mission was chosen correctly. 

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are starting or would like to start a business during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Do it. Do not let COVID-19 delay your plans to start a business or intimidate you into not starting your business at all.  We do not know how long this will last and the longer you wait, the less passion you will have for your idea in the future and less of a chance to be successful.  Start your business not matter the environment around you, and learn as you go–like I am currently doing with marketing. 

What about the future excites you?

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I am excited for these vaccines to be released, and for things to go back to normal as soon as possible.  People keep saying, “our new normal”, but I do not want to accept a world wear wearing a face mask and doing work and school online is considered our “normal”.  The way we are currently living is a false reality and we need to do everything possible to return to the world we used to live in, where it was normal to gather in groups for holidays and no one needs to feel scared when a simple cough is let out. Mijimask is made to make these times easier, but it is not made to make these times acceptable forever. We need to wear our masks while we are told to prevent the spread, but we also need to accept the time when it comes to abandon these masks and return to our normal way of life, and I am excited for that day to come. 


Contact Mijimask

Website 

Instagram

Ari Somerfield on Miles for Smiles and Getting Free First Class Flights

Why pay for adventure when you can get it for free and in first class?

At just 23 years old, Ari Somerfield has a whole lifetime worth of experience as both a passenger and a pilot. Since a young age, Ari has been interested in aviation. On family trips, Ari cites looking forward to the flight more than their actual vacation. Ari’s passion led him to getting his private pilot license with an instrument rating right after graduating from high school. Needless to say an enjoyable Friday night for Ari as a nineteen year old was a bit different from the norm, Ari taking a rental plane to visit friends across Los Angeles to beat rush hour traffic. 

Although he is looking to pursue film professionally, Ari has taken up travel advising in his free time – a true passion. In high school, Ari worked for a luxury travel concierge and discovered the impact of travel points and racking up miles for future travel. It fascinated Ari that, in strategizing how to maximize your points, you could fly first class for free. Shortly after, Ari had made it his mission to discover the ins and outs in regards to how to accumulate points, getting credit card sign-on bonuses, referring friends for credit cards, and transferring points, to name a few. 

After having accumulated enough mileage points, Ari used the points to take his first trip overseas to England, where he flew business class and hasn’t flown anything below business when traveling long distances since. Unlike many travelers, Ari likes to travel for no more than two days to a week, considering himself a homebody. What Ari loves about racking up mileage points is that he can travel the way he likes to, on a whim and for short periods of time. Currently, Ari has over 3 million points and feels best when he has at least 2 million points at a time, so that he is able to take a trip whenever he likes. It isn’t unusual for Ari to fly to Singapore to visit his favorite vegan restaurant or travel to Vietnam for just two days and then hop on a flight back home shortly after. Two of Ari’s favorite flights so far have been his journey from Japan to Singapore, where he had the best vegan meal of his life and his first class trip from Hong Kong to New York flying Cathay Pacific, which he argues has an unparalleled in-flight passenger experience.

In accumulating such vast knowledge of credit card rewards, flying, commercial airlines, planes, and the like, Ari shared this knowledge with friends and family. At one point, however, Ari realized that his passion could be made into a business and started to help others maximize their points in the same way.

Since then, Ari’s business called Miles for Smiles has grown and he has established a process and methodology that he goes through with clients to ensure success. First, Ari has a meeting with his client in order to establish their lifestyle habits and existing credit cards to figure out what program he decides will be best suited for them. From there, Ari advises on which credit cards his client should open and strategizes on maximizing their points. For everyone that Ari works with he guarantees them 500,000 mileage points to use for the future. Ari also has an extensive knowledge of airlines and their product offerings, which will ensure an enjoyable and restful transit experience when he makes the final booking. Singapore Airlines is Ari’s favorite, but he can walk clients through every airline and airplane offered, a credit to his incredible in-depth knowledge of the industry. To date, Ari is responsible for earning 20 million miles for his clients  who have flown in premium cabins across the world and is only just getting started. 

IMG_4288Right now, Ari says that now is the best time to plan for the future and maximize airline points, given that credit card companies are offering some of the best deals he has ever seen, with major sign on bonuses. But what excites Ari about the future? In terms of commercial aviation, Ari mentions

“the advancements that I’ve seen in a short period of time, like the new products and services coming out are incredible, Air New Zealand, for example is rolling out beds in economy class. New things that are really exciting.” As a vegan himself, Ari also notes that airlines are offering more options than ever for the plant based community, a token to commercial airlines continuing to strive towards greater inclusivity in so many different ways. Personally, Ari tells me that one day he wants to get an aircraft of his own that he can fly around with friends and family. While he works towards accomplishing this dream, he also is excited for the day he works with film director Taika Waititi. 

What makes me so certain Ari will reach these goals? His incredible ability to become hyper focused on his passions and find success in whatever he does. Whether it be learning to fly, juggling numerous credit cards and their respective points, or directing a film, I trust Ari to get the job done- and not just well- first class. 


To contact Ari and Miles for Smiles

Website

Email: aripoints@gmail.com

CEO Sit Down: Ivana Mesarić on American Opulence

Thrifting like you have never seen it before.

Palm Beach raised, Boston educated, and currently living in the Orange County area, Ivana Mesarić is a force to be reckoned with, ready to make waves in the fashion industry with her new vintage luxury retail company American Opulence

Ivana has always known that she was destined to be a full-time entrepreneur and, even when she was in Middle School, exhibited some incredible entrepreneurial spirit. Ivana remembers heading to Goodwill with her mom when she was 13 years old during the 2008 financial recession, as her family had encountered hardship. For Ivana, this was a drastic change, however she learned to enjoy the experience, going with a friend to find fun and interesting items. Everything changed one day when Ivana went to Goodwill and found a Tory Burch tunic for $3, which she was able to resell on Ebay for $100. Ivana’s ability to make money this way was mind blowing to her at such a young age. Selling the tunic sparked the idea of buying other things to resell. Ivana quickly began familiarizing herself with designer labels and subscribing to popular fashion magazines in order to educate herself on what popular designer brands she should look for and which would yield the best resale value. As times changed, Ivana transitioned from selling on Ebay to Poshmark and got more serious about her hobby once she moved out to Orange County, California after graduating from Babson College. 

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Although Ivana is currently an analyst at an energy consulting company, she always makes time for thrifting. Having been involved in creative outlets her whole life, whether it be in music, dance, or musical theater, Ivana has always tapped into her creative side. Thrifting was just another way Ivana expressed herself, this time through fashion. “You never know what you are going to find on a thrifting outing,” Ivana says, “which makes it so fun and therapeutic in a way”. One of the most compelling parts of the business for Ivana is making older items look new again, she mentions. She also enjoys having control over the branding, fashion, and overall styling of the pieces. 

While living in the Orange County area, Ivana has curated a large selection of cool items, which got her to consider formalizing her resale business into an exclusive luxury store over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ivana always thought that her transition into entrepreneurship needed to include a world changing idea, yet she realized that it really didn’t have to be- it could be stylish and simple.

American Opulence’s aesthetic is luxurious and fashion forward, most of the pieces being one of a kind, Ivana tells me. One of the company’s main motivations is to convey that you don’t have to purchase from fast fashion retailers in order to be on trend. Surprisingly, Ivana finds a lot of fast fashion items while she thrifts, most likely items sent to influencers in press packages, she informs me. Some of Ivana’s favorite pieces in her curated collection, however, are oversized trench coats that exhibit quality and classic style. Lifetime pieces.  

One of the challenges that Ivana has encountered during the process of starting her business has been figuring out who her niche target market is, seeing that there is a lot of competition in the thrifted fashion space. That being said, as far as the future of thrifted fashion goes, Ivana sees the second hand fashion industry as a huge market that isn’t going anywhere soon. Gucci’s recent collaboration with The RealReal is just one example of how high end designers are trying to leverage the thrift market to the company’s benefit. Looking towards the future, Ivana also senses that getting traffic to the website will become a challenge, which she prepares to mitigate by leveraging Instagram and Instagram ads to target the Gen Z and Millennial market. 

“Even though the market is saturated, it’s not over saturated,”

Ivana says. 

In terms of the future, Ivana is excited about her new company, but also the impact it will have on the world, given that 5% of all of her sales are going to one of her favorite charities called MoviesMakingaDifference. MoviesMakingaDifference is a non-profit that directly aids the survivors of human trafficking and is especially important to Ivana, as she has volunteered extensively for the organization. 

I am convinced that, if Ivana is involved, the future of fashion looks more than bright. 

Rumeer Keshwani on Cryptocurrency and Celsius

The wonderful world of cryptocurrency, blockchain, banking, and more.

Rumeer Keshwani means business and not just any business… cryptocurrency business. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? To explain a little bit about blockchain and a whole lot about cryptocurrency and its applications, I sat Rumeer down to give us all the details. 

earn_appRumeer currently works at Celsius as a Junior Accountant, a cryptocurrency fintech start-up that is consumer facing. Before graduating from college, Rumeer had his sights on working on the finance side of things at a venture capital (VC) firm with the goal of orienting himself towards tech start-ups, more specifically. However, the more people he spoke with, the more advice he got on working for an extraordinary start-up first, before getting fully involved with investing in them. With that in mind, Rumeer jumped at the opportunity to work at Celsius, which has just closed its $20M series A fundraise valued at $120M and possesses a promising future.

When I asked Rumeer to explain cryptocurrency like he was explaining it to a 5 year old, he described cryptocurrency as “basically, a way for people to exchange value on the Internet, the same way that money is an exchange of value. You can do this by using blockchain, in simple terms, a collection of nodes that exchange information.”

Rumeer went even further explaining that every currency issued by a government nowadays is fiat currency. These currencies are no longer backed by physical assists, rather they are backed by society’s faith in those governments. Communities adhere to certain rules and values that are currency specific. Due to economics the currency’s value will change. Cryptocurrency acts in the same way as regular currency in this regard. Another factor that contributes to its value is also the amount of people who transact and exchange the currency. This strengthens the blockchain ledger that the currency uses, making it increasingly appealing and trustworthy to potential users. 

Celsius is fundamentally different from banks, allowing users to earn rewards from cryptocurrencies transferred to their Celsius wallet. At Celsius, customers can collateralize their assets in order to access the value they have stored in their crypto assets, without actually selling the assets. You earn weekly compounding interest on keeping your cryptocurrency at the bank. At Celsius, you can earn up to 21% annually by keeping your money in a Celsius wallet. The reason why Celsius can offer such high reward rates is because it distributes 80% of its earnings to the community members who have crypto assets deposited in the bank, something that a bank would never do!

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One thing that Rumeer wishes more people knew about cryptocurrencies is that the use cases are so immense, especially in international communities that don’t have stable currencies, such as in Venezuela and Iran. “I wish people knew how much opportunity there is out there and those opportunities exist in front of us every day,” says Rumeer, who believes that skepticism on the value of cryptocurrencies and these currencies being complicated to explain, stands in the way of more consumer involvement. 

If you are willing to learn, the future of banking is up to you to invest in. 

The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

Conclusions for the Music Entrepreneur

So, who breaks out to become a star?

It is clear that there has never been such a necessity for musicians to become entrepreneurs, a result of the sudden changes within the music industry landscape. Extreme competition, an increased accessibility to tools and platforms, financing, and the difficulty of accessing opportunity costs, are some of the biggest problems artists face currently. Now, musicians have to learn how to navigate these challenges by being proficient in a host of business roles that are tangential to music; they must learn how to balance art and entrepreneurship, an extremely tricky feat. Yet, it is evident that the more one views their venture into the music industry as a business venture, the better off one will be, using the start-up model as an outline for their activities.

Through the qualitative interviews I conducted within my thesis research, I was able to gather in-depth information about emerging musicians. Interestingly, every artist I spoke with revealed that, despite their demographic differences, they identify themselves as entrepreneurs, showed entrepreneurial attitudes, and undertook entrepreneurial activities. One specific artist, played a crucial role in outlining the difference in perspectives regarding music as hobby versus as a professional pursuit. In observing his transition from the former to the latter, it became clear that business and the recognition of entrepreneurial attitudes and activities is crucial in realizing music as a career. This is the first crucial step: recognizing that being an entrepreneur, to some extent, is necessary.

The understanding in the importance of entrepreneurship transcends race, gender, education, and socioeconomic status, standing as a unified idea. The subjects understood the value of identifying as someone that is business-minded in the industry and who would comfortably take on such a label, despite the fact that business and art have an inherent tension. All of these artists tapped into the different facets of business that they engage with the most that cause them to identify as entrepreneurs, such as promotion, opportunity evaluation, sales, marketing, networking, and financing.

Kendall Jenner Returns to Instagram With 1,000,000 Likes and Counting (1)The music entrepreneurs interviewed have gone about navigating the industry in both similar and different manners. Throughout the study, it is revealed that musician-entrepreneurs’ attitudes are what will guide their venture and provide it with meaning. For example, passion or a compulsion to pursue music is not merely important, it is necessary because it is what progresses the musician despite the obvious hardship they will face. Additionally, honing in on one’s authenticity, what is going to distinguish them as an artist, is critical. Creating an unreproducible message that is alluring to fans and industry executives alike is important because it is a rare quality in such a concentrated industry. In terms of feasibility, proof of concept is significant in terms of validating a musician’s passion and authenticity, granting the artist an objective opinion on their decision to pursue music. Experiencing a moment of validation will serve as a strong reference point in the future, when their convictions may falter. Overall, it is musicians’ education that seems to guide their decision-making process extensively, forming the basis for how the artist goes about the process of pursuing music. Consequently, a background or education in business might be the most beneficial in terms of opportunity evaluation, value creation, resource management, and self-awareness of core competencies, all common business practices.

odesza _) 10_2_18 _ smichalowskiOnly when artists fully understand themselves and what is demanded of them can they learn to evaluate their entrepreneurial activities. Relating to the undertakings of the entrepreneur, the musicians within the study recognize four key elements to running their music venture: sales, marketing, operations, and finance. When looking at sales, it is important for the music entrepreneur to increase their visibility by providing one’s music on as many platforms as available. These platforms also provide data that can aid in helping the artist make informed decisions in terms of music releases, music quality and content, and marketing. The key here is to ensure that creative integrity and business decision making are well balanced. Similarly, marketing has never been more important to the artist. Marketing on every social media site is important; however, creating a brand should be seen as the overarching aim, highlighting the authenticity and value proposition of the musician. Relating to operations, persistence in finding a network is crucial because industry insiders have the most useful information to help musicians make informed decisions. Additionally, having a support system that is informed enough to guide a musician through their music journey, such as a business professional or savvy family member, has proved to be useful to the subjects. Lastly, because financing a music venture can be capital intensive at the outset, it has shown to be ideal to diversify one’s income with other music related activities, if necessary. This will enable the musician to utilize their music talents, while also increasing their resources within this field.

Understanding the value of a record company, if it applies to how one sees their venture scaling, could also be crucial, seeing that record companies can be both financial and opportunity resources as large conglomerates. Overall, an artist needs to understand the individual landscapes of every facet of their business in order to learn how they can best navigate. As we have seen, when musicians are able to understand where their core competencies lie, how they can be leveraged within certain activities, and apply these skills, they are able to further the reach and quality of their venture.

High_Fidelity___A_Hulu_Original_Soundtrack_LP_Vinyl_Record-removebg-previewFinally, it is important to acknowledge the underlying tension between artistry and business, given that entrepreneurship and musicians seem to be such a counterintuitive duo to begin with. The objectives of these two professions are always at odds: marketability and staying true to oneself, profitability in mass versus niche markets, artistry and mainstream, outsourcing and personal authenticity. There are a lot of trade-offs in maximizing business growth and profitability, while retaining artist integrity. Being a true entrepreneur requires the ability to holistically evaluate opportunities, understand one’s proficiencies, compensate for deficiencies, remain steadfast regarding the original vision, and iterate these steps in order to continue growth.

So, who breaks out to become a star? No one can be sure, but those who are crazy enough to engage in the journey of entrepreneurship are headed on the right trajectory.

CEO Sit Down: Anna Bilha on Activly

Activly, a company mobilizing millennials to get active and fit on their own terms.

Anna Bilha was born and raised in Brazil and moved to The United States for high school and to attend Babson College. Throughout her education, Anna hadn’t focussed a lot on studying entrepreneurship, which is what Babson is most well-known for, being the #1 college in the nation for entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until Anna went to study in San Francisco for a semester that she was exposed to a realm of entrepreneurship that she found herself extremely passionate about, involving design, fitness, community, and technology. From an initial idea in San Francisco to a full blown start-up, Anna’s new company Activly has just launched its first beta version of what will soon be a fitness community app geared towards millennials. 

Anna at Ned's Point-23 2Activly was inspired by Anna’s personal fitness journey. Being someone who struggled with weight and body image issues, fitness has always been a priority in Anna’s life. Yet, in college, Anna found it difficult to establish a routine and be as active as she would like. However, when Anna did make it to the gym, people would reach out to her for recommendations for how she was able to be more active and fierce in the gym.  

At first, Anna considered starting a blog that she could point people to for her tips, but quickly realized that making videos and living that “influencer lifestyle” was not so much her speed. Anna cites GymShark as being one of her biggest influences, which has a loyal community of passionate individuals that she truly believes in. Anna also mentions that Karina Elle is another fitness expert she looks up to, who, in many ways, has broken the status quo when it comes to representation within the fitness space.  Anna knew that she wanted to reach more people to offer them tips from her own personal fitness journey. “Fitness is about being happy and comfortable with your body and being healthy, not necessarily about losing weight or building muscle,” Anna mentions. “There is an aspect of going to the gym that is about challenging yourself and being mentally healthy as well.” 

Screen_Shot_2020-11-19_at_3.03.01_PM-removebg-previewAnna did a lot of research into why people are not exercising and what the pain points are within the fitness industry in order to understand better why people were asking her for fitness advice. She soon discovered that ⅔ of Americans are inactive! This led her to developing the idea for Activly, an attempt at making the fitness experience more simple and community based. Activly is designed to be a centralized platform for fitness instruction and inspiration. Anna wanted to ensure that this app serves as a place for everyone, no matter where they are in their fitness journey- a community for everyone. 

What differentiates Activly from other workout programs and apps is that it serves to aggregate content from multiple platforms in order to provide the best for each user. “In this app, you are not limited to finding information from one source, which would leave you at a disadvantage if you enjoy all different types of workouts” Anna mentions. Activly also does not create its own content for sale and distribution, which makes it more unbiased in recommending content for its users. 

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Creating this app has not come without its challenges, however, both personal and professional. At the outset, Anna reveals that she suffered from imposter syndrome, where she was unsure if she had the ability to get the app off the ground running. Within the company itself, Anna also cites that building a platform such as this one involves complicated technology that she has had to learn a lot about throughout the process, something completely out of her comfort zone. “You have to be confident in your developer, they need to understand what you see and align with your vision” says Anna. 

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Nevertheless, these dark moments have allowed for bright moments to shine even brighter. Some of the most rewarding aspects of starting this company for Anna has been growing her team. Although the company is not profitable yet, everyone within her team is extremely engaged and excited for what is to come, something Anna had never dreamt at the beginning. 

Overall, Anna is excited for her new business to help people that need guidance that are already active, but, more importantly, help those who are not active at all in order to work towards creating a more physically and mentally healthy world.