Featured Alumni Business: Moodsnap
What’s your name, and the name of your business?
I’m David Blutenthal, Founder and CEO of Expressionality Inc. We provide value B2C in the form of “personalized social” music experiences for music consumers, and B2B through emotive targeting opportunities and delivering behavioral music intelligence to brands and advertisers. The company’s flagship product is Moodsnap – the world’s first image-driven radio service.
What’s the mission or description of your business?
To deliver the simplest most intuitive way to match music to your moment.
Where is your business located?
We work out of the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. It’s a great environment for startups.
What inspired your business?
I’ve always been inspired by music’s incredible ability to latch onto life’s moments and augment them. In this way, music is a great experience facilitator, connector, and navigator of mood. I was inspired to capture those very human musical attributes in order to deliver a listening experience that matches music to your moment with utmost simplicity. What’s missing from today’s music discovery apps is the perfect balance of contextual relevance, trusted curation, and simplicity through intuitive design. Our team set out to build a product that delivers on all three. That’s how Moodsnap was born.
How did the idea begin?
We first built a very basic MVP, which was essentially a Google Doc with a bunch of photographs displaying universal themes such as friends huddled around a beach bonfire, or an emotionally charged photo of a couple arguing. We then asked friends and trusted music fans to pick any two photos, and assign 5 songs to each that they felt fit the mood of those photos. The process was basically a free association experiment that aimed to tap into the evocative power of images, and one’s own past experiences with music, in order to crowd-source a playlist that related to that image.
After getting an overwhelmingly positive response, we gave ourselves the green light to move forward and build the first functional mobile prototype.
What is your favorite thing about the business?
I love knowing that every song you hear in Moodsnap was actually a decision that someone made based on what they felt fit one of our photographs. Each song is a choice that requires creativity, judgment, memory, and some sense of intuition and taste. It makes you want to gave each song a fair chance in listening before you choose to skip because you know it wasn’t just an algorithm comparing 1’s and 0’s that put this all together.
And the worst/your least favorite?
My least favorite aspect of the business right now is that we’re still working in a distributed team environment. We need to continue moving fast, and being able to react to the market quickly is critical for our success. This inherently presents challenges when you’re not all in the same office. I also feed off the energy of others and the long hours alone can feel isolating at times. A common founder’s plight.
What is your most recent business accomplishment?
We were selected as a finalist in the startup competition at Midem, the leading international music business conference, which is held every year in Cannes, France. I pitched Moodsnap at the conference on February 1, 2014 and the response has been fantastic. It created lots of new ripples in the water, new discussions of strategic partnerships, financing, etc. It feels like a pivotal time. You can see our pitch in the video below (we’re at 1:44:45).
What’s been your biggest surprise with the business?
I’d probably say it’s the extent we’re experiencing what I call the “whack-a-mole” phenomenon. Whenever one problem is solved, or a new feature is added, it opens up new unforeseen complications around it, but also opens new opportunities which we never would’ve seen if we hadn’t made our last move. It’s all part of the journey and goes to show you can’t think your way into anything. You’ve got to act and CREact!
Anything else to add?
Yes! As of Mid-February, Moodsnap will be available for anyone with an iOS device. When we started you needed to be a Spotify Premium Subscriber to use it but now anybody can use it. This is a big milestone for us to be able to offer it freely and easily to a broader market of music consumers. Android version to follow. Check us out and tell your friends!
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Build. Measure. Learn. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.