Interview With Brenna Dematta
Describe your product or service:
“Uni will be a music streaming platform for independent musicians with the intention of creating an ecosystem that caters specifically to the local musician. Using features like location-based discovery, fan chat rooms, Live premieres, and more, we can give local musicians the career they want.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We say not every musician wants to be a superstar — some just want to make a living! Both of the founders, Cannon and Brenna are young, active musicians. We understand the real struggles of being a creative, and our value lies in working against the ‘starving artist’ stigma. Our mission is to give local musicians a platform that actually has all the tools they need to create their superfan base. We are akin to the theory that with 1,000 superfans, any artist can make a thriving career.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“We are bootstrapped up until this point, no outside funding.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“We have three core members: Brenna, Cannon, and Ross (senior developer). Cannon and Brenna both take on many roles, including project manager, product development, content creator, marketing, event manager, community manager, etc. We also work with a couple of graphic designers on and off as they are available, and we have a local content producer in Austin, Texas, whenever we hold events there.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“The problem we are solving is a problem we faced and many other independent musicians face to this day. The validation of the problem speaks for itself: ‘starving artist.’ We decided initially to build a streaming platform because streaming successfully connected fans and musicians like never before, BUT not for the local musician, and that's where we come in.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“‘Uni’ is the prefix of many words, but the one we care about most is ‘universe,’ meaning one song. Uni is not only a prefix but an obstructed abbreviation meaning ‘U & I.’ My partner and I came up with Uni together, and we continue to build it together; it was a sentiment between him and I, but also a sentiment for every creative out there who just wants to have a support system around their art. Uni is infinite in meaning and in the value it can provide.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“YES!! Me personally (Brenna), I've never been able to keep a 9-5 for more than six months. I HATED the traditional structure of jobs. I took more time and effort just to make sure I had gig jobs lined up, so I didn't have to work a traditional job. I was energized by the different situations, lessons, and opportunities that gig jobs allowed me. I've had a couple other startup ideas before Uni; some I took initiative with, others I didn't. Uni was the first one to stick, and I couldn't have done it successfully without Cannon.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Over-projecting was a huge issue for me. In the beginning, I was overly optimistic with projections of all kinds (financial and non-financial), steering towards the direction of stupidity ... Eventually, I learned my pace, I learned my limits, and I understood the way that the law of time and the universe works. It definitely doesn't work on my time; I learned that more than anything! I overcame this simply through repetition and sticking with Uni through the hard times.”
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Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Independent musicians and their local fan base. Independent musicians were an obvious market for us because we are independent and we believe in artistic independence. Our creative work should not be controlled by major cooperations that want to extract all potential financial benefits leaving the artist with pennies and no rights. Uni strictly accepts music that is 100% owned by its creator. On the consumer side, we established the fact that ‘superfans’ will be the ones more than eager to use a platform that is catering to their artist. Creating superfans where there are none is done [by] connecting on a local basis. That is why we are focused on local fans per city/per musician.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Events! Before even having a full-fledged product, we've already had many successful events under the Uni mission/product. Through the journey of throwing events, we realized a formula that can create more platform loyalty than any other formula, and that's real human connection. Both Cannon and I are very passionate about throwing events. I've been throwing events since I was eight years old, and I still get the same feeling every time. You can't fake real, and Cannon and I are serious about our music and our project. We care about what music does for other people and what it does for people when they can freely express themselves through music. It's true magic. When we began throwing events, it didn't become clear to us until we threw our SXSW event that this could be a major tool to onboard people onto — not just the product but the mission.
Iterating on our events this last year in Austin, Texas, we are planning a Uni Fest 2023 summer tour!”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We don't have digital customers because we don't have the product yet. But we have at least 30 musicians signed up to be on the platform, and we've sold 100+ tickets through our various events this last year.
We acquired the musicians and customers by meeting them in person and hosting #FEATURETALK events.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Musicians signed up, email open rate, event turnout, percentage of follow up from people we've spoken openly with about Uni, people offering to help in some way.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Adele, Hozier, Lauryn Hill.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Google Forms, Trello, Figma.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I didn't realize how natural it would feel! Also, being a true entrepreneur means you have to do some deep personal inner work, which is an amazing realization!”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“A lot of this has to do with making my me time a priority. Working out, eating sustainably, journaling, and making music is the highest priority. If I'm not making time for my music, I'm not functioning as the best entrepreneur.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“I'm actually still part-time, six hours a week, but every day I work for them motivates me more to become financially sustainable through my own means. When your part-time job becomes the motivation for leaving it, that's when you know.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“My first job was a summer day camp worker. It taught me how to manage people. Kids are some of the hardest age groups to manage!”
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