Choosic's a recommendation app that aims to be "the Tinder for discovering music". The founding team wants to cut down the time it takes listeners to discover new songs and help new musicians - they believe that "exposure doesn’t pay the bills". So far the app has generated millions of song streams and won a series of awards, including being a finalist in The Pitch.
Here co-founder Alessia Sannazzaro talks about how they analysed their addressable market, getting stuck in the testing loop and the need to overcome a fear of public speaking.
1. What is your investment status?
Currently, we’re seeking £300,000 seed investment, and all of our capital to date has been acquired from grants, partnerships and winning competitions.
2. Describe your business in one paragraph; what’s its vision and what problem does it solve?
Put simply, we’re the Tinder for discovering music.
Choosic is a music discovery service that allows users to quickly discover new music and build playlists based on the music they love. People easily get bored of their music collections and aim to find their next favourite band (which can be time consuming), we’re speeding that process up. We use a combination of algorithms and curation to recommend the right content at the right time and our recommendation engine currently gets one-third of songs liked. With a global user base we have generated nearly four million streams for emerging musicians.
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Our vision is to make discovering new music effortless and in the near future help independent artists monetise their tracks online.
3. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Chris initially came up with the idea during his studies in BA Sonic Media at London South Bank University. As an artist and music-junkie himself, he was surrounded by a lot of musicians who struggled on a day-to-day basis to gain exposure whilst friends found it difficult to discover hot new bands, and thus Choosic was born!
4. What’s your addressable market?
Our addressable market is split up into three categories; artists, listeners and the music industry.
With a global user base we have generated nearly four million streams for emerging musicians.
Emerging and independent artists are always looking for new ways to monetise their music and share their content with fans. For example, 12 hours of audio is uploaded to SoundCloud every minute, ReverbNation had 3.8 million registered artists in 2015 and fans have paid artists $148m through Bandcamp.
Our target audience is young people who are either already active music listeners or music lovers who do not have time to search for new music. Looking at the 16-25 age group, there are currently over eight million people who fit into these criteria in the United Kingdom alone.
We asked over 340 people in London within the 16-25 age range how they discover new music and 80% said they wished there was a better way to discover new music.
In 2013, the music industry spent $4.5bn on marketing and A&R. Choosic aims to vastly innovate this space by allowing record labels and independent artists to promote content to reach targeted audiences and gain demographic insights on music trends.
5. What’s great about your team and do you have a mentor?
Choosic was founded by Chris Underdown, a 25-year-old entrepreneur and recent graduate. He was nominated for The Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015.
Then there’s me; I’ve worked on projects for the likes of Twitter, Mizuno and Kodak, and Chris brought me on for my experience in developing and managing online products. Rob Cross and George Cossins are the brains behind our recommendation engine and everything else technical, they’ve spent eight years in the tech industry building products and high-level security systems for the public and private sector. The entire Choosic team is made up of young, determined, yet experienced people who have the desire to innovate and change the music industry.
6. What key challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I really loathe public speaking, but as a co-founder it’s inevitable. I frequently have to present, pitch and be part of panels to gain recognition.
I really loath public speaking, but as a co-founder it’s inevitable.
Thanks to the multiple pitch practices and coaching at MassChallenge, I managed to overcome my fears and started pitching on my own. By the end I entered the finals of MassChallenge, The Pitch, Varsity Pitch and Get In The Ring (where I won the London, UK and West European final).
Practice makes perfect!
7. How have you funded your startup and why did you choose this route?
We managed to win a few university competitions which gave us the funds to start.
That gave us the initial boost and we kept applying for competitions and grants. We decided to start this way as we wanted to validate the need for the product without loosing stake in the company.
8. How do you market your business and how successful has it been so far?
Choosic was the overall winner of the London Entrepreneurs Challenge in 2014 organised by UCL, the overall winner of both the judges and audience vote in Music TechPitch 4.5 in 2015. A Top 50 startup in The Big App Fund sponsored by Facebook, Worth Capital and Seedr. Top 10 Finalist for The F Factor organised by Founders Forum. And, a finalist in Mass Challenge UK, The Pitch, Varsity Pitch, National Business Awards and Get In The Ring competitions.
We’re now planning on building a platform that will shake up the industry and give back to artists because we strongly believe that exposure doesn’t pay the bills.
Choosic has been featured on the likes of The Next Web, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Product Hunt, Macworld, B9, Hypetrak, Radio Nova and live television in USA, Portugal and Peru.
We recently signed a partnership with Bosch, Jaguar and Land Rover to bring music discovery to the car industry.
We’ve generated close to four million streams for independent artists and helped users discover over 1.6 million songs they like.
9. What are your plans for the future?
We launched our app on iOS, Android and Windows, which has helped thousands of music lovers to discover new music. We’re now planning on building a platform that will shake up the industry and give back to artists because we strongly believe that exposure doesn’t pay the bills.
10. If you started again, is there anything you would do differently?
Of course! This is our first venture and we had to learn our lessons the hard way.
We spent a lot of time validating our assumptions, which is a good thing, but at the same time you don’t need to get stuck in the testing loop and it's important to know when to move forward.
11. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are starting a business?
Don’t wait for the product to be perfect before testing it and grab every opportunity that comes your way.
Choosic was shortlisted for the Top 100 of The Pitch 2015. Click here to find out more about the competition and enter.
About Christopher Goodfellow
Journalist and editor with nine years' experience covering small businesses and entrepreneurship (ChrisGoodfellow.net). Follow his personal twitter account @CPGoodfellow and his events business @Box2Media. He has written for a wide range of publications in the UK, Ireland and Canada, including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice magazine.