Techstars Music, a newly established accelerator investment program headed by Bob “Moz” Moczydlowsky (formerly of Twitter, Topspin Media and Yahoo! Music), today will announce its inaugural class of eleven music-based tech start-ups. They are Amper, Hurdl, JAAK, Pacemaker, Pippa, PopGun, Robin, Shimmur, Superpowered, SyncSpot and Weav (full descriptions below).
Each company will receive a $120,000 investment, mentorship form a vast pool of professionals, support for life and undergo an intensive three month incubation program out of Techstars’ new L.A. office in exchange for 6% equity in each company.
The start-ups range from LED wearables and portable mixtape creation to a personal concierge for live events and bio-metric-driven music and more with six of the eleven businesses coming from outside the U.S. The heads of the companies include a former co-founder of Google Maps, a New York Times best-selling author, Keith Urban’s former manager and the co-founder of We Are Hunted (which was purchased by Twitter in 2013.)
“We scour the planet looking for companies solving real problems in music and creating delightful experiences for fans,” Moczydlowsky tells Billboard. “The way we make good investments is not by tons of diligence on their financials or their users numbers—though we do some of that—what we’re really doing is making a bet on people, we make a bet on the team. If you have an incredible team of people, their business model might be wrong, the current version of their prototype might need dramatic revision, but we believe they’re the best team in the world to solve that problem.”
Moczydlowsky’s Techstars Music team includes former music manager Jen Hall Nicholas, Techstars program veteran Kara Gomez and Entrepreneur in Residence Matt Sandler. Techstars Music is also supported financially and strategically by a number of major music businesses, including: Sony, Silva Artist Management, Warner Music Group, Harmonix, Q Prime, Sonos, Era of the Engineer and Bill Silva Entertainment.
“We kind of feel like it’s an unfair competitive advantage for these startups to have these companies supporting us, digging into these companies, recruiting and selecting these companies with us and being active on a daily basis to help improve these companies,” says Moczydlowsky. “They’re going to have access and help and support from the music business in a way that a lot of start-ups never have before.”
In addition, the companies will have access to mentors, which includes music execs such as Interscope’s Jeremy Erlich, Ticketmaster’s David Marcus and Jody Mulkey, Spotify’s Sumit Varshney, Pandora’s Dagan Josephson and Amazon’s Noah Shanok among many others as well as artists such as D?WN (aka Dawn Richard) and Bob Moses.
On May 18 each start-up will present their businesses at a final showcase at L.A.’s El Rey Theatre where they’ll highlight the progress they’ve made during the Techstars Music accelerator. “It’s another way to launch themselves in the market place,” says Moczydlowsky. “The room will be full of music biz executives and elite investors interested in music.”
Techstars Music is the newest of 28 independent accelerator programs operating around the world under the auspices of the larger Techstars, which was founded in 2006 in Boulder, CO by Brad Feld (Foundry Group), David Cohen (co-founder of Pinpoint Technologies, iContact.com, and Earfeeder), David Brown (co-founder Pinpoint Technologies, Zoll Data Systems, iCentric Corp) and Jared Polis (founder of BlueMountain.com and ProFlowers.com). The company has a portfolio of more than 1,000—of which 90% are active or have been—which have received a total of $3 billion in funding and now have a $7.8 billion market capitalization.
Some of the more prominent start-ups to come through the Techstars accelerator programs include SendGrid (slated for an IPO this year), DigitalOcean, Sphero (which worked with Disney to create bb-8, the most successful Star Wars toy of all time), Localytics and Classpass.
All Techstars programs run independently from each other but use the same centralized back office, business development resources, network of mentors, technical connections and perks. Each company receives $100,000 convertible note as well as $20,000 in exchange for 6% common stock. The businesses are then able to connect with Techstars Network of over 5,000 founders, alumni and mentors globally.
Inaugural Techstars Music Companies Class of 2017:
New York, NY
Amper is an artificial intelligence composer, performer, and producer that empowers you to instantly create and customize original music for your content.
Founders: Drew Silverstein (CEO), Sam Estes (Founder), Michael Hobe (Founder)
Noteworthy: Amper’s composing AI also editors, media publishers and influencers to create on-demand, royalty-free score for their video content.
Hurdl increases fan engagement and revenue at live events with a unique LED wearable that allows artists, teams and event planners a new 1:1 communication network with both the known and unknown ticket holder.
Founders: Betsy McHugh (CEO), Zach Shunk (CTO)
Noteworthy: Betsy is a former artist manager (Keith Urban) and Hurdl wearables will be integrated into major concert tours in 2017.
London, United Kingdom
JAAK uses blockchain tech to connect music, metadata and rights information. Our goal is to create a real-time metadata network and a standardized framework for low-cost licensing.
Founders: Vaughn McKenzie (CEO), Fred Tibbles (Chief Developer), Viktor Tron (Architect)
Noteworthy: Jaak is working with Viacom and PRS for Music to build a prototype of an open, blockchain-based rights management system.
Pacemaker provides a simple and portable mixtape creation and social consumption experience on top of streamed music, powered by the proprietary file format the Recipe and AI DJ technology.
Founders: Jonas Norberg (CEO), Daniel Wallner (CTO), Olof Berglof (CMO)
Noteworthy: Pacemaker’s Recipe software can be used to recreate mixes and allow sharing across different streaming services.
New York, NY
Pippa makes podcasting simpler, smarter, and more profitable by enabling targeted ads to be delivered dynamically to listeners.
Founders: Simon Marcus (CEO), Erwan Jegouzo (CTO)
Noteworthy: Pippa technology can also be used to remove ads from podcasts, enabling future subscription revenue products.
Popgun is using deep learning to make original pop music. Today we are teaching computers to sing. Tomorrow we plan to produce a top 40 hit record. Popgun aims to be the best music AI company in the world.
Founders: Stephen Phillips (CEO), Adam Hibble (CTO)
Noteworthy: Stephen is the former co-founder and CEO of We Are Hunted, a company acquired by Twitter in 2012.
Robin is a personal concierge for concerts and live events. Robin reserves and secures tickets on behalf of fans while providing real-time demand data to artists and event organizers.
Founders: Adam McIsaac (CEO), Cam Gorrie (CTO), Dave Levin (COO)
Noteworthy: Robin’s goal is to provide concierge services via fans’ preferred method of communication (voice, chat, email, text) and is not tied to a mobile app experience.
Los Angeles, CA
Shimmur is a social platform that makes it easy for artists and influencers to have quality interactions with fans. Shimmur flips how social apps usually work; on Shimmur, tribes of fans work together to create content and artists and influencers react and comment.
Founders: Matthew Peltier (CEO), Charlie Buffin (COO), Max Levine (CSO)
Noteworthy: Shimmur’s user base is made up of Musical.ly stars and their fans, the youngest cohort of mobile music consumers.
Austin, TX & Budapest, Hungary
Superpowered provides real-time, low-latency audio infrastructure for games, VR, music and interactive audio applications on mobile and wearable devices.
Founders: Patrick Vlaskovits (CEO), Gabor Szanto (CTO)
Noteworthy: Patrick is a NYTimes best-selling author, and Gabor is a self-taught engineer and DJ from Budapest, Hungary.
Los Angeles, CA
SyncSpot uses an AI assistant to create and fulfill free-gift media rewards for in-store promotions. Example: Buy product X, get a free music subscription.
Founders: Jubair Jalil (CEO), Mohammed Jalil (CTO)
Noteworthy: Jubair was recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 for Europe. Jubair and Mohammed are brothers, and split time between London, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
New York City, NY & London, United Kingdom
Weav makes adaptive music via an artist remix console, and will be the supplier of bio-metric-driven music to workout apps, dance studios, exercise equipment manufacturers and action sports products.
Founders: Elomida Visviki (CEO), Lars Rasmussen (CTO)
Noteworthy: Lars is the former co-founder of Google Maps, Google Wave, and was a long-time engineering leader at Facebook.