Do you remember recording mixtapes from the radio? It used to be my favorite thing to do with my best friends back in the day. Man, I wish I could find those tapes. They would likely contain such 90s hits as Mariah Carey’s Rollercoaster, Puff Daddy’s (as he was called back then) Every Breath You Take, and probably Barbie Girl. These were some good music times.
Mixtaping.fm wants to bring those good times back by letting you create, share and discover mixtapes with your friends. We caught up with Edward Chan, co-founder and CEO, to talk lean startup essentials, relentlessly listening to music all day and why you should follow Snoop Dogg on Twitter.
Tell us a little more about mixtaping.fm.
Mixtaping.fm lets you create, share and discover mixtapes with your friends.
The team and I loved making mixtapes growing up. It has always been a passion product that all of us wanted to work on but was generally not feasible to execute on until last year when products like Spotify, Rdio and Soundcloud started to get a lot of traction.
The problem that we saw in the space was that music discovery was really based on an algorithmic method of presenting music to you and we felt that it was impossible for an algorithm to really capture the sentiment and context around a playlist. Making a mixtape is a deeply personal way of expressing yourself through music and Mixtaping.fm is the social expression engine that lets you do that in a fun and meaningful way.
Another problem, that was really a personal problem I wanted to solve, is that playlists exist everywhere but you have to go through a lot to just to find them. We wanted to build a system in which you were able to dedicate mixtapes to your friends (just like back in the day when you made mixtapes for your high school crush) so that new music was pushed to you directly through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. We also wanted to make music more visual by adding cover art to really capture the moment and the sentiment behind why you were making this mixtape in the first place. So we added Facebook and Instagram photos to really help you with that.
What’s a typical day at mixtaping.fm look like?
Our team is currently remote and spread throughout Southern California. As for me, my office is basically anywhere my iPhone and MacBook Pro [are]. So my day starts out the same everyday. I open my eyes, reach over to the nightstand for my iPhone, I check server logs to make sure nothing broke overnight and check to see how active the site has been since the last time I checked. I then take my 1 hr commute into work, where I take calls / texts with my co-founder to get caught up, plan the day, or brainstorm new ideas.
During the day, I work out of a borrowed space in a Downtown Los Angeles warehouse. I do both the business and technology for the company, so I split my time taking business meetings / calls, and coding the site. I usually spend the mornings answering emails and taking meetings, and the afternoons coding and optimizing the site. But the day doesn’t end there.
I then take my 1 1/2 commute back home. I then spend the evening with my family for dinner and quality time with my daughter. After I put my daughter to sleep, I jump onto the computer and onto my 2nd shift, mainly coding or designing prototypes with my co-founder via IM or Skype till late into the night. It really is a lot of work, but we love it. Who wouldn’t? We get to listen to music all day!
How do you motivate yourself?
- My family – My wife is understanding enough to support me in the decision I made to leave my stable job and start my own business. The only thing she required from me was that if I were to do this, I commit 100% or not try at all. So I’m very fortunate to have a family that is willing to support me through this adventure.
- My team – I have an awesome team. We’re all tech nerds and love music. Everyday I get to work with a great group of guys that truly enjoy what we’re doing at Mixtaping.fm.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
- If you haven’t made the jump, make the jump already! I can’t emphasize this enough. Leaving your comfortable 9-5 job to pursue your dream is the best thing you could do for your startup. It makes it real and you’ll do anything to survive.
- Assemble a good team, but keep the team small. Your entire team should be agile and understand time is money.
- Learn when to pivot. Sometimes ideas just don’t work. Learn when to cut your losses short, and this relates well to #2, if you have a talented team you can pivot/optimize on the product or feature quickly.
- Be open-minded and take advice. Talk to your peers and advisors and solidify your ideas.
- Launch early and iterate often. Keep an open mind and get users on the site as soon as possible. Let your users play with the site and adapt the product to their needs.
- Don’t be shy, you must learn to sell your idea to anyone who is willing to listen… it’ll help you sharpen your pitch and get you traction all at the same time.
- Learn to wear multiple hats. Don’t just do what you’re comfortable doing, pitch in wherever you can. I manage the tech, business, legal, and finance.
- Do anything to make it work.
When do your best ideas come to you?
- Driving to and from work. I have a long commute
- Endless hours of listening to music
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
- Two large monitors and a MacBook Pro.
- Diet coke
- Moleskine notebook
- Wedding ring
- Last year’s holiday card of me, my wife and 2 yr. old daughter.
What entrepreneur do you admire?
- Kevin Systrom, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey because they are unrelenting in their pursuit of product perfection
- Any entrepreneur that puts everything on the line and grinds everyday to make their dreams happen
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
- Honestly, if I had $500,000, it would be used to fund mixtaping.fm
- If I wasn’t working on a startup, I would take a break from the day to day and use the $500,000 to fund other startups.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
- Family – I was raised by immigrant parents that became successful business people in America. It’s in my blood.
- Team – Trust in your team lets you accomplish anything.
Not scratching my entrepreneurial itch sooner.
We hear that all the time. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
- Learn to fail quickly. Don’t be afraid to launch your product, and test the idea. If the product doesn’t get traction, don’t be afraid to pivot.
- Learn how to pivot. Sometime ideas just don’t work or sometime the idea needs some minor adjustments.
- Stay confident.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without?
- Google – Growing up there wasn’t a Google to ask hard technical questions. It has changed the way developers learn and solve hard problems.
- Facebook – We actually don’t have time to keep up with our friends and facebook is the only way we can keep in touch with the outside world.
3 people you recommend we follow on Twitter, and why?
- @snoopdogg – We’re based out of LA so Snoop is a must follow. Oddly enough, he is the one artist that truly understands the power of social media and connects with fans in a meaningful way
- @jason – might not agree with everything he says but is thought provoking and entertaining to say the least
- @yoda – tweet he does… yesss.
Can you share some numbers with us?
We’re bootstrapping right now and just launched out of private beta. Our team currently at 3 but we are working on adding a 4th right now. We’ve been at it for about half a year now and we are feeling like we are hitting a stride. We hope that you’ll be able to check up on us because there are going to be some very interesting things to come.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks Edward! Awesome advice for us startup wannabies. If you want to kick it old school with your friends and create some sweet mixtapes, check out Mixtaping.fm and get your music mixing on.