Entrepreneurship may be one of Northeastern student Toju Ometoruwa’s concentrations in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, but it was his passion and experience producing music that inspired him to found Pickasound, a cloud-based service that allows artists and musicians from across the globe to seamlessly collaborate and produce songs together. For the past two years, Ometoruwa, DMSB’16, has been building his business while working toward his undergraduate degree. Thanks to Northeastern’s co-op program, he was able to devote nine months to working on Pickasound full time and has already been successful in attracting outside investment. We asked Ometoruwa to describe his experience starting Pickasound.
What made you start your business and how did you get to where you are now?
Producing music has always been a great way for me to express new concepts and emotions through sound. The process has often felt like crafting a dynamic story line that comes to life in the form of an original song. Music software programs like Garageband made it possible for me to generate complex ideas without formal music training. These tools allowed me to break the rules of traditional composition through sampling and building unto existing pieces of work with original content.
However, as much as I enjoyed using these tools, I found it difficult to share my creative process with other musicians who I wanted to work with online. I realized that musicians were limiting their experiences on the Web by only publishing and promoting their finished works, while the unique steps that went into composing those completed tracks remained hidden behind closed doors. This made it even harder for like-minded artists to communicate on a purely creative level.
From these observations, I sought to develop a social network where musicians could share and contribute to rough recordings, demo tracks, and spontaneous ideas that all content creators generate when crafting a song.
With a sketchbook of mock-ups and a rough business plan, my co-founder Adam Koehler and I crafted the concept for Pickasound—a music sharing and collaboration platform dedicated to the free expression of musical ideas online. Today, we have a fully operating website in the beta testing stage.
What were the biggest lessons you learned while trying to build your business?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is how to manage investor relationships and set expectations. I have learned that this is an integral part of any startup’s founder’s journey of trying to raise money. Communication is key in order to build trust and keep your Investors informed.
What I realized early on was that investors look to fund strong founders just as much as they look to fund strong ideas. When making initial contact with an investor from whom you hope to raise money, the relationship is not much different than if you were an interviewee applying for a job. Your knowledge of the industry and the market you are entering is your work experience, and your team members and their backgrounds are the skill sets you have to accomplish the job. Ultimately, a strong work ethic is expected all the same.
How has Northeastern helped you along the way?
By committing a full nine months of co-op to my venture, I was able to work alongside IDEA and connect with a group of investors who have helped fund our vision. Northeastern has provided me with so many great resources through IDEA and the university’s faculty members. I have had access to mentors who have taught me skills ranging from managing investors to pitching and marketing my business.
Through my weekly meetings with Dan Gregory and Bob Lentz, I have made valuable connections with many angel investors and venture capitalists from around the Boston area. I have also been embedded in a tight knit community of young entrepreneurs who are all striving to achieve the same goals of influencing their respective industries. These relationships have fueled my desire to push Pickasound to be the best among a group of innovative ventures from Northeastern.