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Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Raising $2.6M to Build an AI-Powered Music Stock

Alexey Kochetkov
Alexey Kochetkov
October 26, 2021
Category of startup
Music
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
No Data
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Raising $2.6M to Build an AI-Powered Music Stock

Alexey Kochetkov
Alexey Kochetkov
October 26, 2021
Category of startup
Music
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Alexey founded Mubert, a platform that helps creators generate royalty-free music with AI. Mubert's mission is to democratize the creator economy. They raised +$2.6M and pivoted to B2B, creating the AI music stock for content creators, agencies, and brands.

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Hi Alexey! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

My name is Alexey Kochetkov and I’ve been developing Mubert for over 6 years. Our startup is a platform powered by music producers that helps creators and brands generate unlimited royalty-free music with the help of AI. Mubert's mission is to empower and protect the creators and to democratize the creator economy.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Despite having a technical and jazz music education, I chose to pursue a career in the creative industry as the owner and creative director of agencies that developed creative ideas and concepts for Nike, Adidas, BMW and other companies.

As a hobby, I used to run long distances like 10, 15 or 21 km every week. One thing that annoyed me was playlists & mixes with unstable tempo & mood. One day an idea came to me -  why can’t the thousands of samples & loops mix automatically into an unlimited stream with a specific tempo related to my pace or cadence?


How did you go from idea to product?

Right after the idea of Mubert came to me back in 2016, out team immediately started creating the MVP. At the time, it was just a web interface with a list of genres and endless generative streams. The first people to see the concept were our friends and colleagues. Our first public release was at one of Russia’s largest music festivals, where all the participants could influence the music stream in real-time by scanning their emotions. As the feedback was positive, we decided to raise funds for the initial product development and that's how I found myself in the US back in 2017.

We were a team of professionals with a deep passion for music and tech and though there were some challenges on our path, we did it! We built the whole ecosystem in less than six months.

The first public launch of the app was in late 2017 – an interface with three channels of functional music – but it was first publicly recognized in mid-2018 when we got the App of the Day award in Japan. And since then, Mubert kept growing to what you can see now.

We wanted to be freemium, as it’s rather hard to ask people to pay for a product before testing it, especially when it’s an innovative music concept. Though the first versions were completely free, we’ve since limited access to additional channels on a subscription basis.

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What were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

At Mubert, we genuinely believe in our brand and the power it carries. For us, cultivating our community through word of mouth, collaborating with companies that share our values, choosing to endorse B2B API solutions, supporting artists and democratizing the creator economy is essential.

We've collaborated with companies like Sensorium, SkillBox, Restream, DepositPhotos and we’re preparing a bunch of new amazing collaborations in the future. 

Moreover, we’ve used Product Hunt as an instrument for lead generation. We had 6 launches there, one every time we launched a new product. The last one was last month, and we had a massive push for our latest product - Mubert Render.

Mubert Render Product Hunt

All the launches brought us leads, developed our community and validated our ideas. As we’ve made some pivots (sometimes I call myself the Chief Pivot Officer), we started different marketing campaigns for every new product.

Of course, we don’t rely only on brand power. We also do SEO-focused articles, ad campaigns, influencers campaigns and PR. 


How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

We have the following accomplishments to date:

  • App of the year on Google Play 2019
  • App of the day in App Store (170 countries) - November 2019
  • Mubert Render Took Product of the Day and of the Week on Product Hunt (Sep 2021)
  • 2+ million overall downloads worldwide
  • 282K app users
  • 40 API clients

After successfully pivoting to the B2B market with our API last year, we decided to move further into the creative economy. We created the AI music stock for content creators, agencies and brands and market it now.

Mubert Landing Page

Since starting Mubert, what have been your main lessons?

Over the years, I realized that challenges are inevitable and I learned to accept them as part of the routine.

I like the concept of an ownership mindset, so I focus on taking ownership/responsibility for the results, making decisions and being transparent and honest.


What are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome? What were your worst mistakes?

It’s always hard to be the first. Mubert was the startup that presented generative music to the world. I mean it. As a result, the biggest obstacle was that it was tough to explain what generative music is. But when people get what it is, the first word is WOW! Due to this, we faced obstacles with new users and sales as people didn’t know that they needed it.

We tried hard to bring our mission to our users with the help of other artists and influencers, blog articles, etc. As time passed, we began to have competitors. And in fact, their appearance also helped convey the correct understanding and value of generative music in the modern world.

Moreover, someone may think that all our pivots resulted from previous mistakes made in product or marketing. But I wouldn’t say so. Every pivot gave us a new breath and a new product. All our previous products still exist and work. More than that, all of them create the massive ecosystem around music and content creation that I always dreamt about. 


What tools & resources do you recommend?

Being a fully distributed team, we use various tools to organize work and lead communications.

The main ones are Asana for task tracking, Notion for data storage and Slack for communication.


Where can we go to learn more?

You can check our website or visit our social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

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