Find two passions and combine them
During his studies in the Netherlands in 2010, Ivo Dimchev was a part of a radio program. To announce artists, he started his personal blog that slowly but surely reached more and more people which excited him as he could share his passion. Moving to Barcelona for a marketing internship, he discovered his second passion: marketing communication.
His new goal was to bring the best of both together. He wanted to share his knowledge about music and how to build a brand from scratch. That in mind, he and (his later to be co-founder) Juan Maza Calleja started to work on the idea behind Stereofox in 2012 with a first version that went online in February 2013.
In the interview he told VentureVillage the story behind Stereofox, how feature decisions were made, what he spend the crowdfunding money on and what his biggest pain is.
A music blog with a music player? Spotify with interviews? How would you define Stereofox?
In a triangle, with the corners called “music blog”, “webzine” and “any major music platform” – we are in the middle. Stereofox is neither a music blog with a music player nor Spotify with interviews, although I am smiling widely right now at the description.
How do you position yourself next to other services such as SoundCloud or Spotify? Do you address the same target groups?
On a broad scale, all the above mentioned triangle corners target the same group – people who love music. We’re not an exception. Of course, the fact that we offer tailored content creates certain boundaries when it comes to what kind of people visit Stereofox, but that’s the good thing about music – there is a lot, its very diverse and everyone likes it.
When it comes to positioning – I don’t see us competing against any of those platforms. We offer something different which we identified there’s a demand for. I would rather work alongside those guys and come up with something valuable for people who love music.
You’ve launched an update last week. What has changed?
Yes, at last! Was an intense moment with Darius (developer), Boris (UX designer), and I working from three different locations and time zones, but everything seems to be in order now.
Besides a complete visual overhaul, we introduced a login feature which allows users to add the tracks to their own personal playlists. These can be accessed from any computer device or on the go, and be shared via social media outlets. Also, we’re currently working on a mobile app.
How did you figure out which features you wanted to launch next?
Well, it has been a very agile process. We first had the regular website and then we rolled out the Jukefox (our music player) and then what you see today – the login feature. Besides our own experience as users and music lovers, we heavily rely on feedback from our users.
Many of the features which we released with Stereofox 2.0 were a suggestion which came from the fans, and I guess this approached worked out for us. Start with a minimum viable product and then… listen to what people want.
While many startups join incubators or accelerators, you decided not to. All of you do this as a side project, and you bootstrap it. You did raise money with a crowdfunding campaign though. Can you tell us more about that?
Yeah, it was a decision we took before I moved to Berlin. We had some experience with interested investors but, for the time being, we decided we want to try to do this by ourselves.
The crowdfunding campaign. So much fun! We had no idea what we’re getting ourselves into, but in the end we thought it would be the best way to learn. We went for the funny kind of crowdfunding video, and I think it worked out for us. It also reflects who we are in terms of personality. We didn’t get the full amount, but were pretty close. If only we were a bit funnier!
We spent the money to pay our developer and UX designer, who had to invest more time than usual in order to make Stereofox 2.0 happen.
How many people are currently contributing to Stereofox, where are they located and how are they rewarded for their work?
Currently, we have a bit more than 30 people who are part of the project. All of them have different functions – from film/photography crews to music writers and, of course, the tech team behind the platform. We’re pretty scattered around the world; from North & South America, Europe, Africa to Australia. That was the idea from the start – having such a diverse team allows us to tap into more local music scenes and get the best out of them.
We used the crowdfunding money to reward people who invested a huge amount of time in the project but in general these things vary significantly. We tried to create an “organization” which encourages everyone to help as much as they can, as often they can. Of course, all responsibilities are tied to some perks. We send free merchandise and albums to our contributors, many of them attend free gigs and festivals and get to interview their favourite bands, which for a music lover is a pretty big deal.
I would also like to believe that people on the team genuinely like to be part of such a “family” as we refer to it. Of course, as with every community, this one needs to be nurtured, and we are constantly trying to ensure everyone on the team is happy and proud to be one of the foxes.
Music often includes legal issues. Is that your biggest pain as well?
Luckily, we haven’t encountered any issues so far. We’re using SoundCloud APIs, and we comply with their requirements. When it comes to hosting some content on our platform, we require the consent of the artists themselves. I hope I don’t jinx anything!
A big pain is when we have to ship merchandise, albums and stickers to fans as we are mostly busy during the day with our jobs… thankfully the German post office is open on Saturday!
What would you recommend founders that just got started?
Don’t try to follow a “path” just for the sake of it. It is not always good to be “the next something”. Yes, products and services overlap, but it is your personality, brand and approach that really defines you.
That being said, there are a lot of things to be considered besides your product or service. Where you are in life plays a major role for the development of an idea as well. I know it may sound silly, but it is very true. Needless to say – you should be really passionate about your idea and don’t forget that being honest can get you far ahead.