Could one of these startups become the new TikTok or SoundCloud?

Startup incubator Techstars Music knows how to spot future stars of the music tech business world.

Techstars Music tells MBW that, combined, its alumni companies have raised more than $235 million since the first class in 2017 – with a combined market cap of just under $1 billion.

The mentorship-driven accelerator program’s portfolio includes various companies written about by MBW, like sound app Endel, Community, AI-powered music-making Roblox game developer Splash, superfan platform Fave and more.

Meanwhile, alumni startups that been acquired by other companies include the likes of Superpowered (bought by Splice), Seated (acquired by Sofar Sounds) and Amper Music (snapped up by Shutterstock).

Today (April 26), MBW can reveal the 10 startups in Techstars Music’s 2022 class, including: Beatmatch, Circle Labs, Clever.Fm, Green Room, Keiphone, Music Games Company, Musicasa, Nal Media, Radia and Solace Vision.

Techstars Music, now in its sixth year, is run in partnership with member companies Amazon Music, Bill Silva Entertainment, Concord, HYBE, Peloton, MNRK, Quality Control Music, Right Hand Music Group, Sony and Warner Music Group.

Each year, Managing Director Bob Moczydlowsky (formerly Head of Music at Twitter) and the Techstars Music team select 10 startups from hundreds of applicants during a six-month global search.

Commenting on the selection process, Moczydlowsky tells MBW that, “We’ve intentionally designed the process — while difficult — to add value and be helpful even for the companies we don’t invite to the program”.

He adds: “Our thesis is centered around ‘Companies solving problems for music’ – not ‘music companies.’ So this year involved more debate amongst members than maybe any previous year.

“Selecting companies for the program is a rigorous process, starting with an open, public application, then several 1:1 interviews with founders and members, then ultimately a 25-30 company final screening event, from which we select 10 startups to fund.”

Once selected, , startups are mentored by a roster of 300 executives from the global music business, along with platform tech executives, venture capitalists, and musicians over the course of 13 weeks.

The startups get to refine their products, build their teams, and eventually pitch themselves to potential investors at the invite-only Techstars Music Venture Summit.

The 2022 Summit is being hosted as two events this year: one in Los Angeles, which took place last week (April 20-21) at The Shay Hotel and Amazon Studios. The second part will take place in New York City starting tomorrow (April 27) until April 28 at The Hoxton Hotel.

Executives from all companies were in attendance in LA and will also be in NYC, along with prominent venture investors, artists and founders from previous Techstars Music programs.

Both events are invite-only and a live-streamed showcase of the 2022 startups (open to anyone) will follow in May.

Commenting on the decision to split the summit into two events, Moczydlowsky tells MBW that “the entertainment-related venture community is tight-knit, and these two small, private events will allow us to connect more deeply after these wild years of Covid”.

He adds: “We’ll have some speakers and some demo-day style presentations, but the bigger goal is to provide lots of unstructured time for investors, entrepreneurs and executives to spend 36 hours together in a great hotel, working on the future of the global music business.”

In 2020, Techstars Music committed to deploying capital to build what it calls a “more equitable and inclusive music business” by ensuring at least 50% of selected startups have CEOs from diverse and underinvested backgrounds, with a focus on Black, LGBTQ+ and female founders.

According to Techstars, In the latest 2022 class, 70% of the CEOs met this criteria and are thus eligible for additional capital investment directly from Concord (via the Concord Impact Investment Initiative) and from Warner Music (via WMG Boost).

“There has never been a better time to invest in the ecosystem around music and entertainment.”

Bob Moczydlowsky, Techstars Music

Commenting further on the types of companies TechStars is looking for, Moczydlowsky tells us that “We’ve been very focused on the intersection of gaming and music, the full ecosystem around virtual artists and immersive experiences — and we still are.

“But this year we also added African audience development, dating, employment services and financial services for events. There has never been a better time to invest in the ecosystem around music and entertainment.”

Meet this year’s 10 Techstars Music startups:


BEATMATCH

Beatmatch is a dating app that aims to help “music lovers find relationships by matching people with similar music tastes”.

Chudi Iregbulem, Founder & CEO, Beatmatch, said: “As a member of the 2022 class, we’ve gotten access to a network of both music and tech executives which would have otherwise taken years to build.

“As a member of the 2022 class, we’ve gotten access to a network of both music and tech executives which would have otherwise taken years to build.”

Chudi Iregbulem, Beatmatch

“We started the program with an MVP and have since launched a beta in Seattle and have over 1,000 music lovers who can’t wait for us to launch their city next.

“We tested various go-to market strategies and went viral multiple times on TikTok, racking up over 2.5 million views. We also raised over a quarter of a million dollars from the biggest names in music including Warner Music Group, Concord Music, and Rhymesayers Entertainment.”


BRIJ

This startup says that it uses dating and match-making UX to pair aspiring and “under-represented” creatives with mentors in the music, media and entertainment industries. Brij claims that it “improves diversity and opportunity in the ranks of arts and culture”.

 “Techstars Music gave us the opportunity to enter rooms with executives we would’ve otherwise never have been given the resources to connect with.”

Naomi Lilly, Brij

Naomi Lilly, CEO, Brij, added: “Techstars Music gave us the opportunity to enter rooms with executives we would’ve otherwise never have been given the resources to connect with

“It’s been a real opportunity for everyone to explore radical thinking as it pertains to mentorship in the music industry. And we signed our first paid pilot partnership with Amazon Music.”


CLEVER FM

Clever.fm is a podcast app that organizes a fan community and content mentioned in podcast episodes in one central place. The startup claims to be “creating more opportunities for engagement and monetization”.”

“During Techstars Music, we worked with select podcasts to build a product that drives engagement.”

Survy Vaish, Clever.fm

Survy Vaish, Co-founder & CTO, Clever.fm, said: “During Techstars Music, we worked with select podcasts to build a product that drives engagement.

“Today, 62% of listeners who play an episode on clever end up taking an action that they are unable to do today on Apple Podcasts or Spotify – participating in a discussion, sharing clips and clicking on buy links or notes.

“We also got to build real relationships with other founders, establishing a support system to get through the hard times together and learn from each other.”


CIRCLE LABS

Circle Labs claims to be “populating the metaverse” by allowing anyone to create their own AI-driven virtual characters, with no code required.

“Being a part of Techstars Music means being part of a cultural revolution with batch-mates who are at the forefront of shaping a better and more accessible future.”

Anushk Mittal, Circle Labs

Anushk Mittal, Founder, Circle Labs (pictured), added: “Being a part of Techstars Music means being part of a cultural revolution with batch-mates who are at the forefront of shaping a better and more accessible future.

“Techstars Music is a community that has seen a thing or two about our problem and solution space.

“This helped us grow our user-base 20x to ~4,000 MAUs with a 1 hour average session length per DAU on our user made bots. Now we have a much clearer path to world domination building a venture scale business.”


GREEN ROOM

Green Room says that it’s “building the tools to let creators be their own business managers”, and is “starting by simplifying payments and tax compliance for live music”.

“For me, being part of an industry specific program was truly transformational, unlocking a level of access and support that has catapulted us onto an accelerated trajectory.”

Sophie Randolph, Green Room

Sophie Randolph (pictured), CEO, Green Room, said: “Through mentorship, connections, and programming, being a part of Techstars Music has helped us evolve from a solo founder with an early product to a full founding team with $1 million in pre-seed funding and a pilot test running.

“For me, being part of an industry specific program was truly transformational, unlocking a level of access and support that has catapulted us onto an accelerated trajectory.”


KEIPHONE

KEIPhone claims to provide “free smartphones and data to the 70% of African consumers who are still offline”.

Keiphone says that it generates revenue through lockscreen advertising.

“During the program we’ve grown from 250 to 35,000 users, directly based on advice we received from mentors to focus on user growth.”

Lauren Hendricks, Keiphone

Lauren Hendricks, CEO, Keiphone, said: “Techstars taught us to think as a platform — instead of just being an advertising space. Now we think about how we bring content to users, and what content our users really want.

“During the program we’ve grown from 250 to 35,000 users, directly based on advice we received from mentors to focus on user growth.”


MUSICASA

Musicasa is a community platform where music lovers can list their homes to host intimate and profitable home concerts with emerging musicians.

Beatriz Ayala-Muñiz, Founder and CEO of Musicasa, said: “It is inspiring to be a part of such a diverse, driven, and eclectic group of founders and mentors. The Techstars Music team is committed to your growth and success. They care.”

“The last 90 days feel like being on a rocketship.”

Beatriz Ayala-Muñiz, Musicasa

Added Ayala-Muñiz: “The last 90 days feel like being on a rocketship. We’ve gained clarity about our business model, perfected our go-to-market plan, and validated our core business.

“We’ve secured 500+ qualified leads that want to become Musicasa hosts, with two thirds willing to sell tickets to shows in their homes to make a profit and half of them telling us they want to do that monthly!”


MUSIC GAMES COMPANY

Music Games Company says that it’s building “a music-based casual gaming platform where anyone can play, create and share levels based on the songs they love”.

“We didn’t apply to any other accelerator other than Techstars Music, because our startup is solving a problem where the music industry plays a really big role.”

Joel Johnson, Music Games Company

Joel Johnson, CEO, Music Games Company, said: “It’s validation that we’re onto an interesting problem that others also truly believe needs to be solved.

“We didn’t apply to any other accelerator other than Techstars Music, because our startup is solving a problem where the music industry plays a really big role.

“And our experience so far says that it was a good call, based on the specific actionable feedback that we’ve received so far. We’ve brought down our cost per install from $6 to $0.6, we’ve also increased our retention from 15% to 35%. We were able to do this in just two months.”


RADIA

Radia says that it is building what it calls “the first multi-chain wallet for entertainment and media to power web3 for music and culture”.

“After working at a previous portfolio company, I knew Techstars Music was the only accelerator that could provide Radia what we needed to be successful.”

Jessia Lawson, Radia

Jessia Lawson, CEO, Radia, said: “I joined Techstars Music for the people and networking. After working at a previous portfolio company, I knew Techstars Music was the only accelerator that could provide Radia what we needed to be successful.

“We’ve gone from the idea stage to developing a business model. We walked into Techstars without much and now have a fully fleshed-out business.”


SOLACE VISION

Solace Vision is described as “a no-code tool that turns your text input into virtual environments, objects, games, and more”.

Shawn Gaetano, Founder & CEO, Solace Vision, said: “Being in the 2022 class has been pivotal to our success.

“Techstars has taken us from being a small inkling of an idea, to a released Alpha version that has achieved over 1,000 virtual objects created with over 100 unique users.”

“Techstars has taken us from being a small inkling of an idea, to a released Alpha version that has achieved over 1,000 virtual objects created with over 100 unique users.”

Added Gaetano: “During the program, we were able to 10x our product development and release a tangible tool that people are loving.

“Techstars Music has given us insight into the music industry, and brings us one step closer to allowing anybody to create their own rendition of a Travis Scott Fortnite concert – just by typing in a sentence.”Music Business Worldwide

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