Today we had the chance to talk with Jason Fiedler who is one of the founder of Splash.FM. Splash.FM is a new music discovery tool that is based on music from people you trust. The company is aiming to grade your music taste and selection similar to how Klout grades your social influence.
The founders, Jason Fiedler, UPenn ’11 and Alex Gatof, University of Michigan ’12 have raised a friends and family round of funding. Check out Jason’s answers below to learn more about how he started and what he sees for Splash.FM.
Tell us the story of getting the idea for Splash.FM.
I was driving back to college (UPenn) and by accident took my brother’s iPod. There were a bunch of new songs and artists my brother had been listening to that I discovered. So for the last month, while I had been groaning over my painfully stale music collection, my brother had a whole playlist for me. I called Alex and we set out to create a better way to discover music based on the notion that those you know and trust (friends, family, artists, celebrities, etc.) were more valuable than anything else.
You previously work on another company together in High School. How does knowing someone that well and working together in the past help your current business?
The most important thing is trust. From knowing each other for so long, and having worked with each other before, I know what Alex’s strengths are and have confidence in his ability to execute. And he feels the same way towards me. We’re also very good at different aspects of running a start-up, so our skill sets are complementary. The last thing, being friends first and business partners second, we have a lot of fun. I think it makes us more productive. We love working
With all the current ways to discover new music, how do you think the Splash.FM product differentiates itself?
Splash.FM is truly the first way to effectively discover your friends music— or for that matter, anyone’s music whose taste you trust. Sites like Hype Machine and We Are Hunted are great, and I used them a ton. They were a needed departure from the “analytical” phase of music discovery ( a la Pandora and iTunes Genius) to social-sentiment based discovery. We make the next step by not just monitoring select blogs and content sites, but giving everyone an opportunity to be a “blog” and voice their music taste.
Plus, Splash makes the whole process fun, extremely social, and puts your reputation on the line.
You had a well orchestrated launch day, including a writeup in Techcrunch. What were the key steps to your launch plan?
The biggest thing was distilling our product and message down to the core, and making that catch and unique. For Splash, this was the Score. It served as a great entry point into what Splash is all about.
Your business is funded through a friends and family round. How are you dealing with the pressure and how will you feel if people you are close with never see their money back?
Great question. I don’t feel any additional pressure than if we had raised money from a seasoned angel, incubator, or some other “institutional” investor. Our investors believe in us as entrepreneurs and the product, and they hold us to the same standards that any other investor would. If we weren’t able to produce a return, I would feel horrible for losing the money, but even worse for having missed out on the incredible opportunity that is improving discovery in todays world.
What’s it like to still be a founder in college and what advantages / disadvantages are you experiencing?
I think the biggest disadvantage is not having an established professional network. I am seeing so quickly how valuable it is to know other entrepreneurs, industry veterans, lawyers, press contacts, etc. These are all new relationships for us.