Cambridge Pitch & Mix Talk

I had the pleasure today of being the featured speaker at the Cambridge Pitch&Mix meetup. The Pitch&Mix is a new meetup aimed at bringing together people from the Cambridge startup scene which seems to have got off to a promising start - I've always come away with a few new ideas and a couple of good new contacts so it was an honour to repay the group with my humble presentation. My brief was to present a case study of our progress at Psonar with a focus on our current activities and the challenges we're working with at the minute.

SongShifterTrying to cram two years of frantic startup activity into a twenty minute summary was a pretty tough challenge, but I think we can all learn something from each others experiences and thats where groups like Pitch&Mix really come into their own. One of the crucial formative moments that shaped Psonar was our pivot from the initial plan of offering data backup from mobile devices which was always going to be a tough sale to the target youth market - teenagers are notoriously uninterested in insurance plans! By focusing instead on just the music collection and moving to a PC-based solution with the SongShifter application, we managed to both simplify our technology and open up more promising business models.

Last year we went through a brief private beta of the core music management functionality, including uploading, downloading and streaming your own collection to and from any PC, mp3 player or phone, before throwing open the doors to all comers in October '09. Most companies in this space seem to stop well short of offering a free and unlimited backup service that also includes streaming and a rich webapp to help you manage your distributed music collection from one central place. For us thats just the start! Our new search and discovery tools are undergoing a final polishing before we flick the switch to make them public - which will move us closer to our dream of enabling fans to easily discover new artists and tracks, directly from the collections of other users - no music industry intervention required!

We're now embarking on the next phase of the plan, enabling unsigned artists and indie labels to connect directly to the Psonar fan base, our announcement of our first artist collaboration is the just the start!

Fortunately, the group at Pitch&Mix had a lot of good questions and helpful suggestions that ranged freely across marketing and promotional ideas, touching on a few technical details and an interesting discussion of digital rights and the evolution of online media. I certainly enjoyed the session and I can only hope everyone else walked away as full of ideas and renewed enthusiasm as I did - and thanks again to Mauro for inviting me!