Growing A Funded Music Marketplace Startup From Sydney with Danny Fiorentini, Founder of Muzeek

Danny, please introduce yourself…

My name is Danny Fiorentini, I was born and raised in Las Vegas and I helped start Outbox Records back in college; we’re a small label that looks after acts like Moondog Matinee and Canto I.

I’ve been recognized in the State of Nevada for our team winning the 2010 NCET Governor’s Cup, and placing in the Tri-State Reynold’s Cup and The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards for Outbox Records, along with my business partners Joey Fiorentini and Chris Aarskaug.

I have Dual-Bachelor Degrees from The University of Nevada and a Masters from the University of Sydney.

Although the label operates from Las Vegas still, I currently live and work from Sydney, Australia and continue to scout and produce for artists when I can out here too.

Muzeek is based in Sydney, but is an international platform with thousands of users around the globe.

What’s the story behind creating Muzeek?

While I was attempting to book more shows for our label, it dawned on me that this was a far too difficult process in a much evolved digital age for the music industry.

Everyone seemed to be focused on providing the best digital outlets for music but booking seemed to be left in the virtual dust, as far as progressively modernizing it’s processes.

While attending graduate school in Sydney I met 3 other people who shared a similar passion for booking and Muzeek was born. Our full story can be read here, which is pretty entertaining I think.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

About 1,000 emails/meetings for 10 hours a day. Haha. Which is hilarious because Muzeek aims to cut down on that exact same workload that bookers/artists are used to.

Basically, it’s our job to reach out to all the venues/bookers/agencies we can, to let them know that we exist and we’re here to make their lives easier in the world of booking live events.

The good news is, there’s really nobody else like us around – so when we email or call them they’re pretty stoked to be seeing how Muzeek works.

We then fully help venues transition their existing operations to our platform so things go super smooth and they don’t skip a beat.

How’s traction working out so far?

Yea it’s been great. Our biggest milestone has been our fund raising with The Sydney Angels. More on that can be found here via a cool write-up by Hypobot.

We also now have over 8,500 user profiles on Muzeek and are signing up venues/artists/agencies daily. We have some cool stuff coming in 2014.

What were the key lessons you learned raising a round with The Sydney Angels?

Know your market better than anyone in the room. *Key distinction here; know your market not your own product.

Remember that a product is just a product without demand – entrepreneurs need to be physically ingrained into their own markets to understand the fundamental flaws and fallacies of a product before asking someone to hand money to you.

Raising funds is not about how great your website looks or how cheeky your app name is; it’s about how much you actually, statistically know and can prove about the market based on feedback and potential customer interest, so that your product actually makes sense to build and expand.

I can tell you right now that our team was the most prepared for investment because we had over 40+ combined years experience in our market from 4 distinct and unique perspectives, and we ourselves needed our own product to accomplish our existing jobs.

This is how the best technologies and products are created.

What challenges did you face when launching?

The biggest challenge is definitely adapting quickly to our venues’ needs. Luckily, we have an in-house developer in our Founders group that is able to develop on demand – so after 18 or so months of feedback we’ve steadily built the exact platform that our venues need.

The key is feedback, feedback, feedback! The only way to overcome obstacles is knowing exactly what you need to do, based on your customer’s needs, and then going back to doing those things before trying to expand further.

We went out and spent over a year gathering feedback from the industry.

Any tips you can share for gathering feedback?

Personally we use Asana; it’s free and great to store feedback. But first, you have to be willing to physically travel and meet your potential clients face-to-face, at their convenience.

So getting the feedback takes real leg-work. This means sucking it up and having so much confidence in your product that you’re willing to go out of your way to show them how great it is.

Ask questions and let your customers tell you what their current issues are, and what they’re looking for.

Don’t assume that you should just babble on immediately about how great your product is. Sit back, take notes and let them explain their existing ways and processes so that you can better understand their specific needs first.

What are you doing to foster company culture?

Work hard and play hard. All 4 of us are super passionate about our product, and we truly believe in it; so our culture is to never waste a minute of the day not trying to make it better.

Since our overall aim is to optimize the booking process, we also get the added benefit of attending some super rad shows as a result.

So fortunately – the harder we work the better our “time off” gets; even though we never really have “time off.”

The best company culture is a true passion for what you’re doing, and we have that at the core of our work.

What strategies are you using to market Muzeek?

To re-emphasize what I said before – feedback, feedback, feedback. We literally work closely with our venues to make sure our platform is doing what they want it to and adapt as quick as we can to improve the development.

We inherently make it better for artists at the same time, as venues filter in requests from artists/agencies simultaneously.

Therefore, as we’re making our paying customers happy, they’re also expanding it to the artists and agencies they already work with.

It’s pretty cool to see and hear all the great feedback we’ve been getting in such a short period of existence.

How does being based in Sydney impact the business?

Personally I think Sydney (and Australia in general) is great for our product, specifically because it’s just big enough to gain a diverse, variation of feedback from our users while still being a “small” enough region in terms of the industry and culture within it.

Everyone knows everyone here, and it’s easy to communicate and expand. At the same time, disadvantages of that can be a massive roadblock if the product isn’t exceptional.

Australia has certainly forced us to truly become and remain an exceptional product – as everyone here runs a pretty tight ship and really know what they’re doing.

I love it and have tons of respect for the music industry here. You can’t get comfortable as it’s very easy to fall behind.

How do you see the startup and investment ecosystem developing in Sydney?

In my opinion I think the Startup ecosystem in Sydney is fantastic; there’s a plethora of creative minds, hard working people and a sense of community culture where these types of products are not only in demand, but encouraged and supported to start.

The investment ecosystem was slightly harder to crack, but we’ve had an overall positive experience with our investment team and the Sydney Angels. We only had to pitch one time, as our product spoke for us, so that helped as well.

I think the investment front within Australia is beginning to understand the incredible amount of digital products coming from within, only to bounce to Silicon Valley to find funds.

The investment flow is starting to gain momentum here for sure as Australia aims to keep those products here.

What’s next for Muzeek?

Slow and steady wins the race. We’ll continue to work closely with venues to ensure their booking needs are completely streamlined and optimized.

As I said, we have a few tricks up our sleeve and will also work closely with a few festivals as well – so stay tuned.

In the meantime, any artists, venues, promoters, agents, labels or managers – check out Muzeek and feel free to contact me with any questions.

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