It’s not often that you meet a kid in their early 20’s with a successful startup under their belt, let alone two. Apparently, coming up with an idea and developing a company from the ground-up isn’t exactly a stroll through the park.
I sat down with Ketan Rahangdale, the 22 year old CEO and entrepreneur who’s changing the music game, here’s what he had to say:
Gabby: Hey Ketan, what’s up? What are you working on right now?
Ketan: Hey Gabby, I’m working on Joox Music. It’s the world’s first social label where fans can invest directly in their favorite artists with either cash or time and our platform rewards those fans for those investments. So, let’s say you go to a concert or you listen to music or tweet at an artist; we can track any engagement you have with that artist and then reward you for it.
Gabby: So how do you get rewarded?
Ketan: Who’s your favorite artist?
Gabby: Erm, probably Jamie xx
Ketan: So let’s say Jamie xx is playing in town and you went to his concert. If you had the Joox App on your phone you could check in, kind of like you would check in on foursquare, and you would be given points. Those points are what you use toward rewards. Say you went to the concert and you posted on Facebook or Tweeted a picture about it, our software can track that you did those activities and give you points, or Joox Notes, and in exchange those points can be used for rewards associated with the artist.
Gabby: Cool! What kind of rewards?
Ketan: We focus on experienced based rewards, mostly things that you can’t buy in a store. For example, maybe a ten minute skype call with an artist or a VIP access pass at a concert or a twenty question interview with your favorite artist. Maybe even an exclusive signed photo of you and that artist; just something that would be special to you, right?
Gabby: Right, so how did you come up with this idea?
Ketan: Well, my last venture was also music related and my passion in life has always been more about music. I started DJing at the age of 13 which brought about the idea for my last company called EarTop Technologies. We basically designed and manufactured high quality audio tech products.
Gabby: Audio tech products?
Ketan: Yeah, we designed the wireless technology that is currently implemented in BeatsByDre headphones and Bose. The APTX CODEC that’s coupled with Bluetooth is like the highest quality sound transmission CODEC over Bluetooth. Joox was born from there. We basically did a lot of market research and had some artists try our product so we could get feedback. Through talking to them, I realized that there’s a major problem in the music industry. Nowadays artists will put in a ton of work into their music and will get compensated for it. Being an outsider, I saw how many people the money was going through before it finally reached the artist and Joox was basically like my solution to that problem. I’m coming up with different ways for artists to monetize their music while connecting them directly to the fans.
Gabby: Dope. Wait, so back to EarTop, when did you start that that? How long did you work on it?
Ketan: I thought of the idea when I was 17. I was DJing and it would take me like an hour or two to set up my equipment before I played because of the wiring and stuff. I thought about how much easier it would be if everything was wireless and started executing on it when I was 18.
Gabby: What do you mean executing? What was your first step?
Ketan: My first step was going to Babson College in Boston because it’s one of the top entrepreneurship colleges in the nation. I was there for about six months before I started EarTop and dropped out. A couple of engineers from Miami offered me a sweat equity agreement so I moved down South to further develop EarTop. It started doing really well and became an Empact100 company for CEOs under 30. After that got published, Inc featured me in an article about the coolest college startups and that helped gain my credibility in the music industry. I was able to get artists to try my headphones and eventually could reach out to them about Joox.
Gabby: Do you know how to code? Are you into engineering or anything like that?
Ketan: No, I don’t know how to code and I don’t know anything about engineering. I like to be the dumbest guy in the room.
Gabby: So how did you make your idea into reality?
Ketan: I have really awesome mentors that help me out but networking is probably the biggest thing, followed the the ability to bring people together and delegate. I feel like I’m pretty good at getting people to work together.
Gabby: What keeps you motivated to work on Joox? You’re in four classes at UCF, right? How do you stay focused?
Ketan: I’m in five, actually. Motivation’s never really been a problem for me, though, because I’m doing what I love with Joox. I admit it can be a headache sometimes but I just take everything step-by-step. If I focus on getting the small things done each day, they’ll eventually add up and that’s a major satisfaction. There’s no class that teaches it all in one, it’s a learning process.
Gabby: Has there been anything especially challenging about starting Joox?
Ketan: Um, it wasn’t like it was the hardest thing in the world but I had never worked with a development team before so that was definitely a new experience. They’re based in Russia so it’s taken a lot of time and there’s been a slight communication barrier.
Gabby: Why wouldn’t you use a development team here in the states?
Ketan: Being a startup, we’re strapped for cash and it’s a lot less expensive to employ workers from Russia.
Gabby: Touché. Alright, let’s talk more about you. Have you always been entrepreneurial?
Ketan: Kind of. When I was a kid I would buy a big pack of candy bars from Sam’s Club and resell them to people in my classes for lunch money. I wasn’t exactly allowed to do that so keep it on the down-low.
Gabby: Haha, okay. What do you want to do when you’re done with Joox?
Ketan: I don’t know that I’ll ever be done with Joox, right now I’m just working on making a system that can connect the most users and artists. Eventually I want to become a venture capitalist just because I’ve been through the entire process of a startup and I can relate to young entrepreneurs, but for now I’m focused on doing one thing at a time.
Gabby: Awesome, do you have advice for someone looking to build a startup company?
Ketan: Yeah, if you know you’re gonna meet an investor or someone important, stalk the shit out of them (in a non-invasive, totally not creepy type of way). Do your research. Find more than the information on their LinkedIn. People like it when you know things about them, it makes them feel respected because you took the time to do your homework. The more they like you, the more likely they’ll be willing to make a deal.
Gabby: Thank you so much for your time, Ketan. Do you have any last remarks?
Ketan: No problem. And yeah — go Knights!