What goes into creating and launching your own startup? This interview with Robert Dede from PumpYouUp (just featured on MusicKO) answers that question like little else. I’m sure it’ll give the ones among you who are thinking of taking the entrepreneurial path a hefty dose of determination.
Thanks a lot for your time, Robert!
Full Name: Robert Dede
Position: Software Entrepreneur, Electrical Engineer, owner Gigasoft, Inc.
Tell us a little about your startup. How was it conceived? What are its most distinctive features in your opinion?
The fall season 2011 I took my motor coach into the lower Rockies, Heron Lake State Park, NM for an annual sabbatical. Over the last 16 years it’s something I’ve done to increase productivity as I’ve been self-employed since age 23. Usually staying away 8 weeks from family, friends, and the same-old-grind that causes one to get complacent and stagnant. About 2 weeks into my trip I got a phone call about a seven year old domain name I had purchased and incorporated into Pump You Up, Inc. The call got me re-thinking about what to do with the domain, besides parking it, as I’ve always thought this was a good domain to own. Timing was everything. If I was not on my trip, the start-up would have never happened. Also, for this trip I happened to bring along a Yamaha MOX6 and latest Cakewalk/Sonar software. So a combination of bringing a keyboard on the trip (a first time for me) and having the phone call about PumpYouUp made me connect the two ideas. Researching the idea of music I saw there was a large demand for music and a large number of indie/hobby producers. It seemed obvious to create a web location to bring the two groups together. I will also keep producing music in-house. The goal is to get one of our artist’s songs or one of our in-house songs to go viral. I feel producing in-house increases the chances. Another goal is to keep pressure on improving the music quality and website’s public awareness.
What was the original launch date?
It took 5 weeks to write the initial web site, write a few songs in-house, deal with all the legalities, and find the initial Fall/Halloween 2011 collection. In the process I registered PumpYouUp, Inc. with US ISRC so I could assign ISRC codes if needed. I was working 18 hours a day during this period. It all culminated on Oct 20th 2011 upon my first press release.
What has been the response so far? In which countries has it been more successful?
The response has been very positive. Many days the site gets StumbleUpon scores above 90 and facebook like click-though rate above 30%. Not many websites produce such scores. 40% of the traffic is from the US, 45% from Europe, and the remaining 15% come from around the planet.
What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?
The site is very early in its evolution. One day I would like the site to be mostly automated with a popularity high enough that the quality of music is undeniably world-class. I don’t want to discuss future features in detail but there will definitely be some exciting additions. I’m also looking forward to 2012 as I have many ideas for songs and it will be interesting to see how they take shape and received.
There is a certain tendency to demonize the Internet in the music industry. I think it is all a matter of perspective – it all depends on the uses it is put to. What is your opinion? In which areas has the Internet left an unquestionably positive mark?
The internet is the wild wild west with no law. It may be romantic to some but can exploit and harm others. Illegal music, software, books, and about everything copyrighted is infringed at some level. Gigasoft’s software is stolen but there is nothing I can do so I try not to worry about it. Remixes are very popular but I personally find them slightly interesting. I will not place remixes on the PumpYouUp site, mostly for legal reasons. I want to promote true creativity and uniqueness. Remixes promote re-use though I fully see the lure of young dj’s wanting to compare their mixes with that of the pros. As for a positive mark, the internet is filled with people willing to share. From music, to music creation tips, there is a wealth of content to experience and learn from.
What advice could you give to anybody who is launching a music-related startup in the future? What are the obvious mistakes that should be avoided?
The biggest mistake I can see, and one I may have myself, is expecting success. I have to remind myself that this is a gamble in a high risk low reward environment. I’m fortunate to have extra cash and time to help speed the evolution of the site. I’m also fortunate to have a bit of software, web, music creation, marketing, and general business knowledge. Though with my advantages I’m still not sure what the final product will look like. My advice is to make any music related startup a hobby. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; get your degree or learn and develop another skill such as software or web development, cad, or welding which will guarantee a nice paycheck.
Continue to Part 2: “Music & You”