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Student Entrepreneur: Julian Novais

Wednesday, May. 7, 2014

Julian Novais, a finance major in the Leavey School of Business, expects to graduate in 2015, but he’s already an entrepreneur with a successful product launch under his belt. In March, the Seattle native and his co-founders completed the second successful iteration of Muzico —a virtual support system for musicians. We talked to Julian about his company and his plans for the future. 

What is Muzico?
Muzico is a crowdfunding platform for musicians and producers alike. Artists can use our website to fund projects such as a plane ticket to make a special audition, a music video, or a full length album. To set ourselves apart from the competition, Muzico prides itself on assisting every artist who uses our platform. This gives an artist access to Muzico’s elite group of industry veterans, producers, artists and journalists who will combine their knowledge to create a project that is most appropriate for that artist. Throughout the duration of the project our professionals work with the artist to make vital suggestions, addressing questions such as how much should the artist raise, what content should be included in an artist’s pledge video, what rewards should be offered to the artist’s fans, and what should be included in a project update.  Musicians often think about our site as a pre-sales platform, while record labels think of our site as a tool for managing the upcoming projects of their musicians. We welcome mostly independent artists, however we do have a special support system for labels. 
 
How did you come up with the idea?
I've been a fan of the music industry my whole life, and many of my close friends are artists trying to make a career out of music. It's clear the industry has been suffering and is in dire need of some entrepreneurial solutions to make it viable in the long term. This is something I was passionate about and when I discovered how I could make an impact, I started working right away.
 
Did you co-found Muzico with anyone?
Yes, there are 4 other core founders. We are a diverse team located around the Western Hemisphere including Santa Clara, New York, Miami and Rio de Janeiro. I knew two of my co-founders personally. One has been a long time friend who is also a Seattle native; the other is working full-time in Santa Clara and connected us with the other founders in Miami and Rio de Janeiro. 
 
How did your Leavey School of Business experience help you develop Muzico?
Santa Clara’s business school has definitely influenced me in pursuing Muzico. There are so many resources; I found there was always someone to help. Furthermore, getting involved with the Santa Clara Entrepreneurs Organization has helped me put myself in the right environment.
 
How did you go about starting Muzico?
Launching Muzico was tedious, especially during development. When you’re not a programmer yourself, waiting for your platform to be created is agonizing. Then, finding customers before you have your product to show is nearly impossible. Trying to get artists to do a project with us was difficult. Even when we moved to launch with our platform ready, artists were tentative in trusting our platform with no history. Muzico started off with two projects that failed completely, but in hindsight, these two projects were the most important. We learned from our mistakes and moved on. At the end of January, Muzico successfully funded its first project. Still in beta, Muzico has launched the second version of our site that is mobile optimized. Once the ball gets rolling and Muzico has more user data, we can use it to improve our platform further and ultimately come out of beta with a more full scaled launch. 
 
How are you getting the word out?
With limited funding, Muzico doesn’t have a marketing budget. As a team we are using our personal connections as well as reaching out on different social platforms to connect with artists. 
 
How are you funding Muzico?
When Muzico first went out to raise seed funding we thought it would be easy. At times it was very discouraging getting rejection after rejection. We were pitching the wrong people at a very early stage. What we found was that professional investors would only consider investing after a platform has gained traction. The team of core founders is very important and if an investor didn’t know us on a personal basis, why should they trust us with their money? That is when we realized we had to pitch towards friends and family; the people who would support us no matter what. Using this new strategy we were able to raise $135,000. As of April we are attempting to raise additional funds in order to keep us afloat until December of 2014. We have a few choices and are currently negotiating with a private investment group.  
 
What are the next steps for Muzico?
The next steps for Muzico pertain to attracting better quality leads - artists who have an established fan base but are struggling to support themselves through their career. To do this, we will start a new marketing initiative offering up our platform’s use to artists for free - 0% commission. We have also been attending trade shows such as South By Southwest. Getting the word out is difficult and it has proven to take a lot of manual labor – cold calls, etc.  
The bigger vision for Muzico is to become a record label 2.0, essentially disrupting the industry as it is today — an oligopoly. Major record labels are not willing to invest in younger artists, while most signing deals are unfavorable: this alone has inspired the independent movement to morph into what it is today. 
 
To learn more about Muzico, contact Julian at jnovais@scu.edu or on LinkedIn.
 

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