Nov 11, 2015 Jessica Blechingberg
Today, podcast listeners don’t only want easier way of discovering new podcast, but they also want a richer experience. Acast enhances podcasts with rich content that upgrades the listening experience and makes all the stories even better by adding photos, videos, music and webpage links to the podcast. Acast first launched in Sweden in April 2014. Only four months after the launch, they were named ‘Start-up of the Year’ by IDG magazine, Internetworld, and ‘Most innovative media service’ at the leading mobile industry awards Mobilgalan.
Måns Ulvestam and Karl Rosander are the guys behind the podcast app. In 2013 they saw the resurgence of podcasting happening in Sweden, so they started to look into the ecosystem. What they found was an amateur landscape where all the important parts were broken or didn’t exist, such as metrics, monetization, discovery and sharing. What they basically found, was an untapped mass media, ripe for disruption.
Acast was launched in April 25th 2014 and today they have offices in Stockholm, London and New York. They serve content suppliers like Channel 4, Sky Sports, Financial Times and Buzzfeed. “We were fortunate with the timing and are continuously pleasantly surprised at the speed of our growth.” says Måns Ulvestam, founder & CEO of Acast.
Karl and Måns knew each other from before. When they came up with the idea of Acast, they brought their co-founders onboard one by one as they needed them, people they knew and more importantly, great people. First came the tech guys and then the sales guys. They spent 8 months building the service under the radar, launched with revenue from day one.
“I will tell you that we are in the process of revolutionizing podcasting and trying to define the category. For Acast that means new monetization models, and new markets. Plus the constant evolution of our technology.” says Måns.
Singa is the funniest, best and easiest way for consumers to sing karaoke on mobile, tablet or Smart TV. The karaoke app offers its users more than 20,000 instrumental songs with lyrics in various languages. One of Singa’s main operating principles is that it’s super easy to use; you only need a mobile device or a tablet and you’re ready to sing. Singa works fluently with external accessories such as home stereo or large TV’s. The app analyzes the singers performance based on lyric timing, sustained notes, and correct pitch to award a score at the end of each performance. All performance can be recorded and shared with the Singa community.
The idea for Singa was a pretty traditional new business development process, as all of the co-founders had worked in the music, entertainment and software industries before. By combining the team’s collective insights they stumbled upon a realization that especially the karaoke industry was extremely ripe for this “software is eating the world” -type of disruption. The team understood that karaoke and singing are hugely popular past-time and inspiration for all forms of entertainment, yet it hadn’t really hadn’t evolved that much in the past 10 years (SingStar was introduced in 2004). “After that it didn’t take too long to figure out that there’s something in on-demand economy, and we probably should take a look and examine if it can be applied to karaoke. Turned out that karaoke isn’t that different from music (Spotify) or movies (Netflix)”, says Atte Hujanen, CEO & Co-Founder of Singa, also Co-founder of Slush.
This year at Slush, Singa will announce their first official product family for the Singa service. Before the company only had an app in open beta, but from Slush 2015 onward Singa is going to be a service for all the world’s karaoke and instrumental music needs. “It feels so good to get something out there that you’ve been building for the past six months in total silence. I’m fairly sure people already started to wander what we were so diligently coding each night at the office.” says Atte.
Atte and Singa’s CTO, Tomi Pajunen found each other in IRC through common interests in creative projects and software development. Over the years they’ve collaborated in smaller projects and just hang out, drinking beer and having a laugh together. Atte met Juha Ruuska from KSF Entertainment already in 2004 when they started their first cooperation in professional sense. Atte met Saku Tuominen, Jaakko Kievari and Juha Tynkkynen from Idealist Group just by cold calling them in 2009 for a totally different idea – the guys found out that they had similar ideas and so they kept the dialog going. After a number of years in 2013, this group came together and decided that it was time to start something of their own together.
“We’ve got a pretty big industry and a complete cultural phenomenon to disrupt. We don’t want to be the social network for singers or the most viral app for creating funny videos of yourself singing. We want to be the underlying API for all the world’s karaoke and instrumental music needs. That means anything you might want to use to sing; mobile phone, tablet, browser, Smart TV or over-the-top TV boxes and all the way to the professional karaoke systems in different venues. That’s a $10B annual industry that’s pretty much still in ’90s and we’re here to fix it.” says Atte.
Sounday, a web and mobile platform, offers all active people in the music world easy, accessible and enjoyable solutions and advanced services within a single online destination, the Sounday platform. The platform is unique worldwide with its over 30,000 registered users, enabling artists, record labels and other music professionals to manage their own music projects, buy and sell goods and services and create and share contents.
“It was mid 2009, I had just quitted my job as Head of Marketing at a leading Italian bank and wanted to create something innovative putting together two of my passions: music and high tech. At that time the focus was all on music consumption: Last FM, Pandora, Spotify just to name a few companies. My thought was: ‘What about artists? Who’s caring about them?’. So, I started writing what is Sounday today: a web&mobile platform for artists, record labels and managers to promote and monetise their digital music projects. Sounday came alive thanks to the seed financial support of Gianluca Dettori, a pioneer in digital music, founder of Vitaminic” says Giuseppe Ravello, Co-Founder and CEO of Sounday.
Sounday’s team is a perfect mix of skills and competencies to deal with the digital music. In the future, Sounday is going to start its expansion plan (and looking for financial support) to expand internationally, mainly expanding its innovative mobile technology to give “digital music” new and effective promotional and sales channels.
Soundtrap is the best collaboration platform for making music online. It’s a platform for amateur musicians, podcasters and schools to create music and podcasts together on any devices. By plugging in your own instrument or by using the software’s own available instruments, you can record a song directly with your computer’s microphone.
The Soundtrap team consists of 14 highly skilled individuals who are working with product development, support and tutorials, business development, marketing and growth hacking. The team started to work on Soundtrap almost four years ago. In the end of 2013 they released a very rough minimal viable beta product and have since then constantly added on functionality and content in three-week cycles. The team is very metrics driven and have a close relationship to many of their users, enabling them to get constant feedback. With this feedback and in conjunction with their vision about the future, they constantly elaborate the Soundtrap experience.
“Google invited us to Google I/O in San Francisco in 2014 to do a 45 minute session on the technology behind Soundtrap. Then, it really started to take of in end of 2014 and we are now seeing an exponential growth of users. We have organically grown from 20 000 to soon 250 000 users during 2015, with an accelerating rate.” says Per Emanuelsson, CEO at Soundtrap.
In the beginning of 2015, Soundtrap started to see that the core features of Soundtrap was very attractive to schools as they got over 300 hundred schools on board in a very short time. In June Soundtrap was awarded “The Best Website for Teaching and learning 2015” by the American Association of School Librarians and they became a global Google Partner for Education.
“As with other disruptive services, Soundtrap revolutionise the way of doing a common task. In this case it’s about revolutionising the way ordinary musicians and podcasters produce creative work. In addition to this, we see that Soundtrap is empowering tomorrow’s leaders when we integrate music and podcasting in the everyday practice of project-based learning activities in schools across the globe. “ says Per.
Soundtrap will run a session in the Google Booth second day of Slush 4:15pm called: Soundtrap Demo: Google technology enabling collaborative music making in the cloud.
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