As traditional career paths in this volatile economy become ever-more elusive, a group of young entrepreneurs are using a music festival headlined by some of EDM’s biggest names to help college students find gainful employment. Recess, a touring college music festival that includes performances, a speaker series and a career fair, launched on April 6 at Georgetown University. The fest’s second installment kicks off tomorrow (April 19), at Michigan State with Kaskade and Project 46 headlining.
Recess co-founders Jack Shannon and Deuce Thevenow began their career with Glowfest, an EDM festival that brought acts like Avicii, Pretty Lights, and Deadmau5 to campuses around the country, which is where they first noticed a shift in how students were thinking about life after school. “We saw a wave of interest in startups on college campuses,” 26-year old Jack Shannon says. “While we loved what we were doing with Glowfest, we felt like the show was missing something, missing a bigger purpose.”
Enter Recess. The fest begins with “Study Hall,” a speaker series powered by Intern Sushi. a company focused on connecting interns with leading companies through an interactive online platform. At this free event, students can meet with entrepreneurs and discuss a variety of topics including innovation, personal branding, and career obstacles.Panel speakers slated for the Michigan State stopover include Abe Burns, who works on Guy Oseary’s digital operations; angel investor Paige Craig; Matt Pohlson, co-founder of Omaze, a charity-oriented start-up; Intern Sushi co-founder Shara Senderoff all moderated by Forbes’ JJ Colao. Advance tickets to the Michigan State Recess cost between $25-$30.
The Recess board includes several EDM power-players, including Stephanie LaFera of Little Empire and Alexis Giles of DJ Z, a new media company focused on electronic dance music and DJ culture. The event’s sponsorship partner also includes Disco Donnie Presents, which gives the start-up fest legitimacy and ballast.
“I am interested in entrepreneurship and the start-up world, said Sara Butler, a junior at Georgetown who attended the debut Recess. “I was drawn to Recess because I wanted to hear from people who have had success in that area. I watned to get a sense of what their motivations were for starting their own businesses and to learn about how they brought their ideas to fruition.”
Following the speaker series, students go right into the “Playground,” an interactive career fair where they network with various startups and where companies scope out potential hires. Sam Tarantino, co-founder and CEO of Grooveshark, said his company decided to take part in the event because he thought it was “a perfect place to find people who love music which is exactly the types of people we are looking to hire.” He also noted that with Grooveshark located in Gainesville Florida, the company needed a platform to reach potential hires from outside the state.
At the same time, Recess has found a way to use music as a tool to further empower student entrepreneurs. “We wanted to use this festival not only as a way to provide awesome entertainment but also to bring these guest speakers and these different startups to campus,” explained Shannon, “We wanted to get kids excited about startups and entrepreneurship.”
“Students are hungry to learn how to do more; they want to create impactful things be it physical or digital,” explained Michael Wang, a Georgetown alum who works in media/digital strategy for the University and helped bring Recess to campus. “We could tell that they are eager to learn about different opportunities outside of traditional management consulting or investment banking career paths that are popular on campus.”
The educational portion of the day is capped off with a concert; Georgetown students saw Calvin Harris headline. Having EDM artists seems natural given the genre’s popularity on college campuses, electronic music’s affinity for technology and how fan and artists both actively engage social media and are often early-adaptors of new platforms.
Famed promoter and Recess partner Donnie Disco told .Biz that Recess is also valuable for perforers. “That’s their core market right now,” Disco said, “that’s just the people they want to reach. Those are the people who are going to the show, buying their albums, so this is a great way for them to get in front of these people.”
So far both the music and entrepreneur communities have supported Recess. Even Mark Cuban, renowned entrepreneur and Indiana alum, tweeted the promo video (below) to his followers.
Recess hopes to grow and do 50 shows a year and in the long run add in more elements where student businesses can connect more closely with investors.