Co=Founder & CEO
Singapore HQ (originally from UK)
Joining us today is Hazel Savage, CEO, and co-founder of Musiio. Musiio are a British-run, Singapore-based music tech start-up who builds AI software that is reshaping the way the music industry scans, tags and categorizes music. Their software can scan 83 days’ worth of music in just 4 hours – providing information on genre, BPM, key, mood, and more.
Hazel started her music-tech journey as an early employee at Shazam and spent time understanding the pain points of the industry at Pandora, Universal and HMV before launching Musiio in 2018. Read on below to find out more about Hazel’s exciting journey.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.
My name is Hazel Savage, I’m from the UK but I live in Singapore. I have been working in the Music Industry for about 14 years, usually with a focus on the tech side of the music industry. I started at Shazam and HMV in the UK, I have also worked for Pandora Internet Radio, Universal Music and a few startups along the way.
I started Musiio with my co-founder Aron two and a half years ago. We met at Entrepreneur First (joinef.com), a Talent Investor based in the UK but with a branch in Singapore. We have been building Musiio ever since we met in Jan 2018 and have raised 2m SGD in VC funding to date and have a full-time team of 12 people.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
Well, due to Covid and no travel but having lots of UK and US-based customers I have had to switch my workday around a little, I currently do midday till midnight every day, although I am a founder, I don’t expect 12 hour days from the rest of my team, they work relatively normal hours! Luckily for me, I am a night owl, which is good because midnight in SG is 9 am in LA.
So I don’t get up super early, I drink a lot of coffee… and my life is run (more than I would like) by my emails, I suppose being as busy as I am is a nice problem to have as a founder. As a fully paid-up member of the work-a-holics club, I don’t have a problem staying productive… but that isn’t very helpful advice, I suppose I try to make sure I keep up with fitting in exercise and making time for friends and family, it’s easy to forget the important things as a founder sometimes.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
As I mentioned I met my co-founder Aron at EF. EF does give you seed funding of 75k SGD for 10% of your business in Singapore. Which makes it a great way to get into company building for new entrepreneurs.
It was actually Aron who selected me out of our batch of 100 eligible co-founders, I was just having a good time meeting everyone at the start! The EF methodology is that you are looking for someone with a compatible skillset, so as a business person with industry experience I was looking for a Tech co-founder, and Aron the opposite. We gelled straight away, we are the same age and with a similar level of experience in our respective industries. With the name, I just workshopped it in my notebook, whilst cross-referencing a domain purchasing website (ask my team I have a domain URL buying habit, I own some absolute corkers!) I got it to a top 3 and I had a clear favourite, and Aron agreed without me prompting, so Musiio it was. I forget all my ideas but one was ‘The Music Concierge’ which is a terrible name, and 100% available if anyone wants it.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
My biggest achievement is probably raising our Seed Round of funding. It is not only complicated to raise VC money, there is a lot of maths involved, but it is also something that requires complete alignment on skill, team, industry, product, market and more. Few people tick every box, so I am proud to have done it.
The biggest challenge I have as an entrepreneur, and I never really refer to myself as an entrepreneur, yes, I am building a company, but that is because I love the music industry and it’s all I have ever done, but a true entrepreneur is someone I think of as building for any market… they are hustlers and opportunists… I have several good friends as true entrepreneurs, I am just one for now… but I digress, the biggest challenge is that I worry about my people. When you hire a team to work for you, it’s your responsibility to pay them, create a healthy and positive environment, build them up for their next opportunity and bring in the revenue to do so. I feel a great sense of responsibility for my people, and this is the thing I care about most… and we are a start-up… so, it’s a challenge, for sure!
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
My background pre-Musiio was as a marketer, so I love marketing. I was never worried about our go-to-market strategy, well I wasn’t worried I could do it, I probably did worry it might not work! Our GMT was simple, I get on a plane, go to every music event globally and tell people about what we do and sign them up. Pre-covid it worked well, I clocked a lot of air-miles and jet lag but as a b2b company, our costs were simple, cheap flight and cheap hotel.
In 2019 I was in the USA 6 times and the UK 5 times, as well as China, Australia and mainland Europe. It was busy! Luckily for me, the face-to-face demands of 2019 have translated into video calls for 2020.
My other top tip is to be where your customer is online, Musiio is a b2b music company processing audio, our biggest channel is LinkedIn, we don’t use FB or Instagram for business, because we aren’t b2c and we don’t have a huge visual component. To me, it’s about being smart and dedicating your resources to the right area.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
I am excited about the future, we have some great customer deals coming up, which of course I can’t share the names of, but sales is the core of our business (and should be for most tech startups). It’s also foreseeable that we will open a global office, but the location is also highly secretive for the time being. Ok, this is my least exciting answer so far…. Sorry!
My end goal, my ideal future is a fully sufficient and profitable business that adds great value to the music industry. Bringing AI tech to the music industry so my whole industry can skill up is a great passion of mine.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?
If you are raising money, you have to go with Brad Feld ‘Venture Deals’ if you aren’t raising money it’s probably a very dry read, but if you are raising it will be invaluable decoding all the terms found in VC contracts and how they affect your business.
Also, a great business book myself and my co-founder love is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horrowitz. We both read it 2 years ago and still regularly reference and discuss certain chapters together.
For the nuts and bolts: https://fioapp.co/app/ – the best time zone calculator in the world, I have gotten so many people onto it.
And lastly networks… I have the EF global community, but a great open community for female founders is https://elpha.com/ – I highly recommend it.
WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?
I don’t come from a traditional business background, I didn’t grow up around people who ran companies or worked for the Big 4 in consulting, but I credit my work ethic to my Dad. I don’t think I know anyone who works harder or is more focused and I like to think I get that from my Dad.
In terms of day to day influence, I often say that I have learnt a lot from both the good and bad bosses I have had, there have been nowhere near enough women (typical for Music and Tech and Music Tech!), but for all the bosses I have had, I learnt just as much from the bad ones as the good. Sometimes seeing the perfect example of how not to behave makes you a better leader and manager in the long run.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Just know that you can do it if you want to, I’ve taught a lot of guitar to women in the past and often I find teaching guitar is 50% skill 50% support say YOU CAN DO THIS and I feel business is the same way. Plenty of people will tell you all the reasons why you can’t but I like to tell people the reasons why they could.
Before Musiio, starting a business involved things I didn’t know or had never done, but it turns out you can learn it, and you can figure it out. Even raising VC money, I assumed there was a big secret to it all, but it’s a process just like anything else, you do the research, your network and you get your company ready to present. Of course, the idea is important, which is where you need The Mom Test: http://momtestbook.com/
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
Oooo great question, I have a tonne of ideas… most of them are probably not great ideas… but I have lots of them, they say execution is 90% of business, so I have no issue sharing my ideas, also the ability to ideate fast and iteratively is important. I do have a couple of documents that I want to turn into cool tools, one is a marketing spreadsheet I use for user acquisition in B2C, I used it in most roles I have ever had in Marketing and I figure it would be a cool SAAS product… that is a small but sensible idea, and then I at the other end of the spectrum, at Musiio I often run ‘pub quiz’ style events for the staff and there is a popular round called “Cat-Roulette” for this round I use my 3 legged cat Tiffy to select playing cards (there is a treat on each card) and you use your points to bet Red or Black, it’s hilarious and I think it should totally be an app.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
If you read this far, good job! Thanks for reading. If anyone would like to connect or find out more head to musiio.com
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
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