Chapter 16Fail Fast

Alex White

Alex was the cofounder and CEO of Next Big Sound, a company that provides online music analytics and insights to over 750,000 artists and bands with 30 million songs. Next Big Sound raised about $1 million from Foundry Group, Alsop-Louie Partners, and Uncork Capital after completing Techstars in 2009. The company was acquired by Pandora in 2015.

After my freshman year in college, I landed an internship at Universal Records in New York City and came up with the idea for a website that would let anyone play the role of a record mogul and sign bands to their own fantasy label. For three years, I couldn’t stop thinking about it but told virtually no one. During my senior year of college, I took an entrepreneurship course and formed a team to pursue this idea. We raised a seed round of funding, launched at the end of the summer, and moved back to Chicago, where my three cofounders were still seniors at Northwestern. I was supposed to start a consulting job in New York City but quit before I started to pursue the business full-time. I spent the year sleeping on couches, touring the country helping manage a band, and fighting my way to registering thousands of artists and users for our fledgling service. By the spring, we had been profiled in the New York Times, had several small investment offers, and were approached by many overqualified individuals who wanted to work at the company. We barely had enough money in our bank account to pay the streaming ...

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