Today, Tunezy announced that they have entered an agreement to be purchased by SFC Entertainment, a public company currently listed on NASDAQ. For those of you who don’t know, SFX is a company that aims to grow electronic dance music culture. They own properties including Sensation, Beatport, and Tomorrowland.
Tunezy describes themselves as “a commerce platform that allows content creators to sell experiences to their fans, including back-stage passes, meet and greets, Skype chats, and pre-show dinners”. They have picked up a lot of traction these last 2 years with awards from Billboard Music and Canadian Music Week.
We had a chance to catch up with Derrick today over email. In this interview, we talk about his thoughts selling his first company and the challenges he’s face building his startup.
Congrats on selling your first company! Tell us the thoughts that are going through your head right now
Building a company is a very invigorating but challenging process. The last two years at Tunezy have been a roller coaster ride, albeit a fun one. Not only will this acquisition allow us to continue pursuing our passion of increasing engagement between musicians and fans, but we will also be working with some of the smartest people in the industry. We built this company because of our passion for music and this acquisition will give us a bigger easel to paint on. It’s quite cliche, but the whole team is very excited about this opportunity.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how all this began
I used to work in the Investment Banking industry, but have always been in love with the music industry. I started playing piano at age 4 and even launched an online sheet music community called QualitySheetMusic when I was 13. After almost 2 years working on the trading floor, I realized that I wanted to do something bigger. Something more meaningful. So, I booked a ticket to San Francisco and attended a Billboard Music conference where I learned about the opportunities in the music industry. Not long after that, I left my job to start Tunezy. We built a team of some of the brightest minds to pursue our vision of disrupting the music industry. The rest is history.
You guys have only been around for about 2 years, did you think you would get acquired this fast?
I don’t think there’s ever a “right time” for an acquisition. Some companies are acquired quickly, and some take years. We pursued this opportunity because we believed that the visions and cultures really aligned.
SFX is heavily associated with the EDM space, seeing that Tunezy seemed to target towards independent musicians in general, why did you and your team think this was a good fit?
SFX is all about Electronic Music Culture (EMC). This culture is often associated with youth who love music and pop culture. Tunezy targets the same demographic of youth. I don’t think people should think of Tunezy as a platform for independent musicians, but moreso a platform to help entertainers connect with their fans, with a focus on youth. Also, the business of EMC is often focused around the “experience”. At Tunezy, we believe that the future of music isn’t necessarily in music as a product, but rather as an experience.
What were the biggest challenges in building your startup?
I wrote a piece in Forbes which describes what it’s like to build a business. With this analogy in mind, I would describe some of the challenges as getting this plane to truly take off. You need a lot of things to fall in place before a business can truly take off. One of the challenges was building a product that truly solved a problem, and raising the proper capital to support and scale the business. Another challenge is getting your product in front of the right people – aka Marketing. Start-ups have limited resources, so it’s always a challenge to pick the right battles to fight in.
You seem quite young, has your age ever been a challenge for you when dealing with more experience people?
Age is just a number. I think especially in the tech industry now a days, being younger is often an advantage. You see the world differently. Your mind isn’t cluttered with obsolete information. I’ve always leveraged my young age when dealing with others, especially in the music industry where the “old way” to think about the business is becoming obsolete.
Tell us the most important lessons you’ve learned in your entrepreneurial experiences up til now
Never give up. Surround yourself with the smartest people you can find. Find a big problem and solve it. Take calculated risks. Be bold. Trust your gut. Always be selling your vision.
Where do you want to take Tunezy in the next couple years?
The vision of Tunezy has always been to increase engagement between entertainers and their fans through technology. We will be continuing to build products and technology around this vision. Tunezy will continue to serve our diverse customer base, but now as part of the SFX family, we hope to leverage the additional resources to truly create something phenomenal.