Now I grew up in the dark ages. When music ruled the world, our idea of tech was a component stereo and nobody I knew applied to business school.
So today I drove today to Culver City to the Mighty offices. Well, “office,” in a loft above another startup, in the Helms Bakery area. If you had told me back in the seventies that one day Culver City would be hip, I’d have laughed, after I went to see a movie in Westwood, after watching tumbleweeds roll down the Third Street Promenade. And those locations might mean nothing to you, but the truth is all the action is happening in the cities, which is why the younger generation is here. San Francisco, Brooklyn, Los Angeles?
Well, Mighty has a CTO up north, but the business is based down here. And you might say you can be anywhere these days, and I’d agree with you, but only halfway. The truth is life is about people, and despite video-conferencing and all the modern communications techniques, there’s nothing like up close and personal.
So Anthony Mendelson, the majordomo of Mighty, is 33, he got his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, as did his compatriot, the other Anthony, Pu, and new hire Lachelle.
It’s always about your network. Just ask a musician. Know nobody and you’re nowhere.
So everybody had history. Anthony #1 worked at Google in ad tech. Where he met Rich. Lachelle worked at Unilever before business school. They all paid their dues. Which is quite a contrast to today’s music business where pre-teens without portfolio believe they should be household names overnight. And even if you break through, like Rebecca Black, with “Friday,” you’re usually thrown on the scrapheap shortly thereafter.
You see all the smart people are not in music. Where some baby boomer runs the label and you do the grunt work. Where there’s adherence to old paradigms, where radio rules. Just ask a label head, they pray at the altar of over-the-air, it’s insane.
So, where do the smart people go?
And smart people are taking over the world. Doesn’t matter if Trump is President, if he’s elected by his lauded “uneducated,” you can’t mess with someone who’s gone to school and learned how to analyze, how to put the pieces together, which is the key these days, since you can look up all the facts online.
So, all the creativity is in tech. Which the musicians hate. As they replicate old, tired sounds and expect us to be interested.
So Anthony Mendelson had an idea. He got a team and raised some money and went on Kickstarter, where he asked for 300k and got nearly a million.
And that’s when the hard part started. Not only did they have to design and manufacture the product, they had to make a deal with Spotify!
That’s right, they broke the rules, something that’s anathema in today’s music business. They raised capital and sold the product on air.
They needed Spotify to say yes.
That took a long time. Negotiating.
And when the streaming giant put its thumb up, there were issues. Of compatibility between Spotify’s software and Mighty’s, which is why you cannot shuffle quite yet, although it’s coming along quickly.
As for voice control…
That’s in version 2, about a year off. Yup, the new product sells at the old price and the old product’s price is dropped, just like Apple.
Anyway, the clock is running. Kickstarter was back in 2/16. The product didn’t launch until 7/17, but the team said they’d give the cash back if they couldn’t launch.
Now you’d say iPods are history. You can use your Apple Watch. But a Mighty is much cheaper, at $85.99. And how did they come to that price? There’s a calculator you use. Why are these people so smart and everybody in the arts so dumb? It’d be one thing if the artists were just that, but scratch one and you’ll find they want to sell clothing, perfume, concentrate on everything but their own work, while the truth is these educated youngsters can run circles around them.
And the stunning thing is set-up was seamless. You download the app, go through the prompts, and voila!, it works, right out of the box. It’s glitchless, although the transfer of songs from Spotify is slow, and if you crank the music up to the max you’ll get some distortion, but…
We keep hearing about the downtrodden. People say they hate school. And I don’t want to sound like a Republican here, I believe in a safety net, maybe even a universal income, but if you want to have cash to buy these goodies, you’ve got to climb the ladder.
So, let that be a warning to you.
Now, back to the product.
You go through the prompts, and then you can synch playlists. You can’t shuffle the songs in those playlists, not yet, but you push a button and a voice comes on to tell you you’ve switched to the next playlist, its name is spoken.
And the rest is…intuitive. Forward and backward buttons, up and down volume buttons, and a pause/play button at the center.
And one other thing, it takes a while to power up. But for a 1.0 product, it’s pretty impressive.
But not as impressive as the team.
So, if you don’t want to carry your phone around. If you want to jog or ski or hike or… The Mighty is tiny and water resistant, and the next iteration will be waterproof, and on one hand you say the product is redundant, but the truth is your phone now costs a grand, is heavy and a specialized accessory…
Might be just the trick.
Check it out.
P.S. You don’t have to use Bluetooth headphones, although I can’t see why you wouldn’t. And the headphone jack is how you charge the Mighty, via a USB port.
P.S. Here’s the team:
P.P.S. And here’s the Crunchbase:
That’s right, millennials are all about transparency, and when they take over the music business it will be to everybody’s advantage.
P.P.P.S. Next step is a series A, the initial round was from angel investors. That’s right, these people know how to do this, they learned this in school. And I’m not sure a school can teach you how to be an artist, I actually think schools can drum the inspiration out of you, but when it comes to business…
P.P.P.P.S. I just got this note from Anthony Mendelson:
“I’m glad that you’re up and running!
Re: audio quality, Mighty’s codec is similar to what you’d find in current iPhones. We allow users to adjust Spotify audio quality by navigating to the Connections tab (bottom left), clicking the Spotify logo at the top of the screen, then clicking Download Quality. High and Extreme sound better but reduce battery life. Users also want the ability to adjust EQ settings – we’re working on that right now.
Our next big software update will include shuffle mode and the ability for Mighty to wake itself up and update your playlists overnight, no manual effort required. Want to chat again before we make that release?
Thanks again for stopping by.”