2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: TuneHatch, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

TuneHatch, Inc.

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

Industry: Music and Entertainment Technology

Founding Student Name(s): Christal Hector, Nathan Youssef

Brief Description of Solution: TuneHatch is an online platform that helps music venues book more profitable shows through predictive analytics and streamlined processes.

Funding Dollars: $120,000 committed, raising $550,000 pre-seed round for sales and technology expansion.

What led you to launch this venture?

Christal: Way before business school, I was an aspiring songwriter. During my quest to get published, I met many talented musicians who wanted to work full time on their music but didn’t know how to make a living in this manner. After getting to know people in the industry and researching how the industry worked, it became apparent that live music was the primary means for artists to make a living in music. Even more, there were opportunities to improve the transparency, efficiency, and profitability of the live music ecosystem. In the process, they could do this in a way that benefits not only artists, but others in the industry as well, including venues, fans, and more.

Nathan: I’m a music producer and a former factory manager. I saw ways to apply my background to solve venue and artist pain points. In lean manufacturing, your focus is shaving off seconds within repeat tasks, knowing that this will ultimately lead you to produce more at a lower cost. Most music-tech solutions are focused on creating a more “entertaining” product. They aren’t thinking enough about the people doing the work and how to consistently save them time and energy. My focus is to make the work easier for all the hard-working individuals within the music industry.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Serving 15 Nashville venues and over 1,000 registered artists! We also recently joined the Techstars Chicago Accelerator and just won the NEXT Entrepreneur Award for startups in Music, Sports, and Entertainment.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? Starting a business with a multi-sided marketplace model is hard in any industry. What helped us was identifying which side of the market would draw the other sides in and which side could we service well without a critical mass of the other sides being present on the platform. Once this was identified, it made customer acquisition a lot more straightforward.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The Owen School of Management provided classes geared towards starting and growing ventures, like Launching the Venture and Business Models, classes taught by Dr. Michael Burcham. There are also cross-functional classes that allow students in the business school to create and bring to market concepts with students from other disciplines and graduate schools within Vanderbilt University. Owen also offered amazing grants that enabled us to put more time and resources into our business during our program and beyond, such as the First Year Summer Grant, Chad B. White Scholarship for Entrepreneurship, and Sohr Grant. One of the biggest benefits, though, was the culture of the school. Early on, before we had a fully fleshed out product, we hosted pop-up shows and events to engage with the community and build brand awareness. Our MBA classmates supported us by coming out to shows, and once our product was built, they encouraged us to use our product in coordinating and ticketing school events.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you?

Christal: That’s a hard one! My parents started a small business when I was young, so I’m sure picked up inspiration from them by osmosis. I think I officially caught the entrepreneurial bug when I learned of the Airbnb founding story. Like most people, I was captivated by their creativity and grit. I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurs since then who’ve added additional inspiration and motivation to my journey, as well!

Nathan: I love talking to other founders and entrepreneurs. I’m inspired by local business owners who are making a living off their passions and hustling to lift their communities.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it?

Christal: Business Models (Dr. Michael Burcham and John Murdoch) – This class really opened my eyes to the fact that business models are not just about how your company makes money, but also how it delivers value. Small updates to the value chain, channels used to reach customers, and even the structure of the product itself can result in material competitive advantages.

Nathan: Launching the Venture (Dr. Michael Burcham) – Launching the Venture gave us key insights on how to frame the concept and refine our pitch deck. We took our course learnings and applied them to various collegiate pitch competitions where we won $65K through those contests.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?

Christal: I came into business school knowing that I wanted to launch a business, but Professor Rangaraj Ranga Ramanujam helped me think about my business from the perspective of organizational structure and how I can leverage it to create the kind of culture and efficiency that would lead our business in the direction that we truly desire. I’d never thought about business from this perspective before business school!

Nathan: Dr. Burcham’s courses were very helpful. I learn through applying principles and experimenting. His entrepreneurship classes gave students enough space to explore their passions and provided structure through valuable frameworks and guidance.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? In countless ways! Firstly, we’ve received so much support from the greater Vanderbilt University ecosystem, beyond the Owen School of Management. Namely, the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s innovation center, has provided grants, workshops, mentorship, and more. We’re currently members of the Wond’ry Launch Incubator, so we also have access to office space and paid interns! Beyond that, the Nashville EC, Founders Live, and honestly so many organizations and individuals have been supporters of our journey. There’s a lot of startup and investor energy here in Nashville, which, we recently learned, was dubbed the Tech Hub of the South.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our grand vision is to build TuneHatch into the world’s go to platform for live music and entertainment. Fostering an ecosystem that is transparent, efficient, and profitable for musicians, venues, and fans alike.


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