I am an entrepreneur. Where others see problems, I see opportunities. Where others see barriers, I see barriers to entry. From a young age, I’ve been captivated by the process of creation.
In 2014 my heart had been broken, my grades were slipping, and my attention elsewhere. I hugged my mom goodbye in LAX and boarded a flight to study abroad in Madrid, Spain per my older brother’s encouragement. One day, as I was riding the Metro to school listening to music, a lyric hit me like a strike of lightning. I felt a tingle that originated in my chest and shot up to my head, vibrating my cerebral cortex like a violin. The music mirrored my state of emotion so eloquently that it provided me with an instant sense of connection and intrigue. The song captured my deepest ruminations. I wished I could share the feelings I was experiencing with others.
Then it struck: is it possible to share music in a way that more deeply expresses thoughts, feelings, and emotions than traditional mediums of communication? Upon returning to the United States, I turned my minimalist college room into an office where I dove into a creative supernova, on a mission to enable others to share experiences with music. I began working on this simple, yet powerful, idea: Music Messaging. Beatshare was born.
In 2014 the music industry was in chaos. Streaming music services such as Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud had disrupted the status-quo. The ripples were being felt throughout the entire industry. Major music labels were struggling to obtain revenue, producers could no longer rely on physical record sales, publishers saw licenses they heavily relied on diminish in value, and artists needed to find alternative ways to get compensated for their craft. As a diverse group of visionaries, the Beatshare team approached the shifting market from a different perspective. We used technology to create a bridge between the multiple entities of the shifting industry. Beatshare created a win-win scenario for an industry in turmoil.
After an all-encompassing summer at Idealab, I went back to school at Chapman University where I entered and won the Keith Pham Business Plan competition and placed second in the California Dreamin’ Business Plan competition among 30 universities around the country. I gained exposure to the Southern California angel investor community and spent the next six months pitching Beatshare to the Tech Coast Angels, Pasadena Angels, and Harvard Business School Angels. After a grueling process of negotiations and due diligence, Beatshare raised a Seed Round from a syndication between the three Southern California angel groups. Music Messaging was no longer the dream from a lost college student; we were in business! Beatshare was approved by Apple and we launched on the App Store.
I found myself in need of taking another leave of absence to grow the business. I spent 10-12 hour days in a small office at the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship, where my team worked through an obstacle course of challenges to turn our dreams into a reality. I was supported by a community of like-minded students and mentors at the center; the separation between colleagues, business partners and friends diminished as this group became my extended family.
After several years, competition on the market was exponentially increasing as applications such as Musical.ly became increasingly popular. Challenges with legality, fundraising and user acquisition were mounting. As funds dried and the market flocked to social music platforms, it was time to exit the company. Beatshare closed its doors, but the journey was far from over.
For the third time, I re-enrolled at Chapman University. Frequently, I get asked about this decision as people are aware of the alternative opportunities available to me outside an undergraduate education. My answer is always the same: I want to finish what I started at a University that gave me an opportunity to follow my dreams. I value personal growth, development and learning; it doesn’t stop when a certain level of success, achievement or vocational outcome is reached. Personal development is a lifelong journey.
I re-enrolled in the Strategic and Corporate Communication major, which “emphasizes communication theory and practice associated with the advancement of an organization’s mission, services, and vision through persuasive messaging in the broad organizational context, by exploring the purposeful use of communication” (Chapman University, 2019). The classes I took, such as Theories of Persuasion, helped me understand how to craft messages in a way that caters to the audience I’m in front of. This major was a perfect choice for me, as I’ve seen the tremendous value of communication in the world of business and entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship and education are not linear. Creativity is born in the depths of uncertainty. My anticipated 4-year undergraduate education turned into an 8-year odyssey filled with love, despair, learning, failure and success. I am graduating in May 2019 with a B.A. in Strategic and Corporate Communication, but i’m leaving with much more than a degree. I have grown as a well-rounded person, learned more than I ever could imagine and built relationships that I will value forever.
Chapman University is an opportunity, a special place that caters to the curious. There is no right way to partake in an education at the university. The school is like a spring of water in the desert, providing resource and opportunity to those motivated enough to seek it. I am thankful for my professors, mentors, business partners and friends who contributed to a special undergraduate experience. I am filled with gratitude.
After graduation I am eager to dive deeper into the fields of marketing, entertainment and technology while keeping my entrepreneurial spirit alive!
“Let us hope that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away” (Abraham Lincoln, 1859).