Welcome to Trep Talk! Trep Talk features some of our city’s compelling entrepreneurs who are boldly building what is uniquely Memphis. The spotlight series is curated by Elizabeth Lemmonds, Director of Talent Programs for the EPIcenter.
A few weeks ago I posted about the groundbreaking Summer of Acceleration, where eighteen of the best and brightest startup companies from around the world have converged in downtown Memphis for a sprint towards business legendry. I focused on the newness of the collaborative accelerator program, where EPIcenter, Start Co. and ZeroTo510 have joined forces to run fifteen intense weeks of business building curriculum, mentors and seed investment. This time I want to focus on another exciting new business accelerator component, called Start MMT – backed by David Porter and The Consortium MMT – that focuses on music technology.
Soundways was one of two teams chosen and backed by Start MMT, and one that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past month. I am excited that Memphis, with our rich musical heritage, is leveraging our strengths with an accelerator focused on music innovation! But I’m also highly impressed with the founding team of Gebre Waddell and Connor Reviere. They are each audio engineers and software developers, so they have the utterly unique position of working in their field while developing their own software.
They’re also two of the nicest, most accomplished and passionate people you could meet! While the Q&A below is with CEO Gebre Waddell, Connor studied music recording at CUNY in New York City, Middle Tennessee State University and University of Memphis. The two met when Gebre spoke to one of Connor’s classes and tossed around the possibility of working together; a year – and intensive C++ learning – later, the two started programming together and are now co-founders of an exciting and extremely promising new Memphis startup company! Next up: global domination. At least of the music industry. And with no further ado…
Give us your elevator pitch! Imagine giving an audio engineer a plug-in that changes their work forever. That’s what we are doing, by solving problems that are costing millions of audio engineers their time, income, and reputation every day in cities around the world. For example, a recording that sounds amazing in the studio may not translate well to car stereos and mobile devices. Our audio zoom technology allows users to eliminate translation issues by hearing their audio in more detail allowing them to make better adjustments.
Even basic AB testing in studios today is terribly flawed, so our comparison technology allows objective testing that improves every decision an audio engineer makes. These are a couple of the many common problems we solve. But that’s not all, our underlying tech is being done in a way that can be deployed in listening systems like TVs and automobiles, allowing us to improve the full pipeline of music from its creation, through to the listener’s ears.
Gebre, what – or who – was your inspiration? My inspiration was my family – my Father the starving artist, my mother serving as a social worker for 35 years, and my sister who set the bar high by becoming a doctor. In our home in Memphis, it was all about creativity and being faithful to your natural gifts. My father was a sculptor, who dedicated years of his life to creating civil-rights era sculptures, with over 12 years spent developing two amazing sculptures of Martin Luther King, Jr. My father passed away in 1998, never having experienced true success from his work – a loss to both to him and society. I’m in music rather than sculpture, however I see the struggle for all artists is the same. My Father’s story makes it important to me to create tools that help artists reach their potential, whether they’re trying to make it, or they have already made it and are working to maintain success.
Another motivation is my family’s close ties to Memphis – a city with music at its center. My family on my Father’s side has been in Memphis for as long as anyone knows. My mother, a social worker, served the neglected, abused and abandoned children of our city. This made the concern for Memphis’ well-being a central theme in our home. The audio tech we are creating combines the cultural heritage of our city with the advantages of modern-day technology, in a powerful way that will benefit our community as well as be profitable for years to come.
Did you always know you were destined for entrepreneurship? If not, what lured you in? Even as a child, I was an entrepreneur. I remember at age 8, together with a friend, we developed a comic book character. With no prompting from school or parents, I typed a letter on our home typewriter to Marvel Comics headquarters in New York to try and sell the character. I received a letter in return saying they were filing our character for consideration. You must understand, to an 8-year-old, that was life-changing. I was hooked as an entrepreneur from that day on.Continue Reading …