A Springfield, Missouri, Aerospace Engineer Starts a Music Tech App
An aerospace engineer, musician, tech startup founder and recent college grad all walk into a coworking space in Springfield, Missouri…
Actually, these are all one entrepreneur named Seth Kitchen. As part of cohort 4 of efactory’s accelerator, he’s combining all his skill sets into new startup tech: Collaboarator is a music collaboration application that allows users to co-create music without ever leaving their homes.
The Power of Social Networking Expands to Music Composition
“It’s basically a social media feed like Facebook where if I’m a guitarist and I don’t have anyone to play with, I post my guitar riff on a social media feed. Then everyone within 50 miles of me can see that post and then add their bass track, their other guitar riff or some vocals or lyrics or whatever on top of it,” says Seth.
“It’s a great place for early independent artists to meet each other and make money. That’s the big issue for independent artists at the early stages. There’s just so many up-front costs and middlemen that you have to go through, so we’re trying to cut all of that out to where they can make it on their own, being small.”
Taking a spot in efactory’s accelerator program puts Collaboarator at the front of Seth’s plate, fresh out of his college career at Missouri University of Science & Technology (Missouri S&T) . His passion runs deep as an industry disruptor in the music space: He even turned down a full-time job offer with Boeing as an engineer to pursue the development of Collaboarator.
A Journey from Aerospace to Missouri Entrepreneurship
Starting out with piano at age 3 and moving to drums by high school, he knew that there was an issue with artists collaborating.
“I wanted to be in a band, and there was no one in my school that played drums. That was a big issue. I thought, ‘If I had some app where I could find a drummer nearby, that would have been perfect. That would have been the solution to my problem.’”
While the idea for Collaboarator came naturally to Seth, his beginnings started as a St. Louis native who attended Missouri S&T for aerospace engineering. While there, he participated in the University of Missouri Systems’ Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator, as well as the NSF I-Corps program. With some of the requirements for both overlapping, Seth was able to complete both simultaneously where he was able to secure the grants that come with I-Corps participation as well as an additional $2,000 in funding from the EQ accelerator program.
Now as a member of efactory’s accelerator, Seth finished up his time there with presentation. Participation in the program affords each entrepreneur with a $30,000 equity investment, curated programming and access to resources for 12 weeks. Citing huge opportunity for funding, resources and all around openness in the entrepreneurial landscape in the Springfield area, Seth definitely thinks it is a great home for entrepreneurs and business owners from all over.
Securing that funding and his place in efactory Accelerator were the tipping points in turning down the job with Boeing. But becoming an entrepreneur has its own journey and Seth said there was a major difference for him: everything in science and technology has a definitive answer.
“The problem is, in your pre-revenue [stage], there are no numbers. You need to be able to persuade someone that what you’re doing is actually useful. Learning those persuasive skills, learning how to make your project sound better than everyone else’s and then convincing someone to invest in you, that’s what is very interesting.” says Seth.
Other words of advice around being able to secure funding? Find the right investor.
And lastly, actually know what your investors dollars are going toward and pitch to that.
“A lot of times, people will just say, ‘I want $100,000,’ because that’s a number that everyone throws out all the time, but how to spend $100,000 is actually an interesting question. If you’re just going to go hire one person with that $100,000, that’s not super useful. You want to be able to find ways that you can use that money so you don’t have to go hire someone else and show that you have the time and the capability to do that,” says Seth.
What’s Next For Collaboarator?
With Elon Musk being an influence for Seth and his desire to work on multiple life-changing projects, it is no surprise that his future plans include continuing to work on aerospace tech. But for now, Seth has his eyes set on getting A-list artists to upload their work to the platform for other artists to work with. If Collaboarator can connect smaller artists to more established ones, for example Beyonce, those smaller artists will now have the clout from working with Beyonce on a track—without ever leaving their own personal studio.
“It should not just be a dream to be a musician. People should not be worried when they go into the music industry if they’re going to make it or not, which is how it is. There’s enough Spotify streaming happening that everyone should be able to have something good out there that people are listening to all the time. Making that happen for people to where it’s not just one band you’re listening to on the daily, it’s multiple great musicians. That would be the dream.”