Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

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Study Abroad Summer Program: part 3

Former Composition for Films and Video Games, and summer study abroad student Tyler Habig, kept a blog recording his 6 week experience at Berklee Valencia and traveling around Spain/Europe.

Hereby, we present to you Tyler Habig’s second and third post entries. However, if you would like to read more, you can find his full blog, including some of his compositions, here.

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student-experience

The Capital Network x Berklee

As my internship with The Capital Network finishes, here are some thoughts about opportunities for Berklee students. Starting from the premise that a musician is an entrepreneur I think what the organization offers is meaningful to any Berklee student.

Music business models have evolved a great deal over the past years and it is important for any musician to understand all the options they have for funding their next project. In fact, as new digital tools emerged to enable artists to pursue a successful music career without dealing with record labels (Eg Chance The Rapper) it might be interesting to look at alternative funding options with a microscope. And that is when TCN comes in. In fact, it has become more current for angel investors to fund music projects eg: help bands record an album or go on tour. Those investors might expect different things in return and navigating those deals is the same as any other investment deals (usually/at smaller scale).

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Fundraising cycle could become more relevant to musicians as music business models evolve

 

I think students should start by cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset through some Berklee ICE classes and events. Start projects in the safe Berklee environment and get a better understanding of the resources needed to scale beyond. Next step would be spreading to other colleges to build a team with different skill sets or find new fans/customers. A community event calendar for students called Greenhorn Connect managed by TCN can help with that. Greenhorn Connect is a first step put in place by TCN to prepare students considering an entrepreneurial path. It might be helpful for Berklee students to break out of the ‘music bubble’ and consider a musical career or music company the same as any other company and look at other industries for inspiration.

During the last years at Berklee I recommend business/marketing savvy students to intern with TCN and get a deeper understanding of fundraising. This is the best way to benefit from all the TCN services and network for free. I think for an appropriate fit and to make the most of the resources offered through working for the organization students should have a project/startup they started prior.
Furthermore, perhaps Berklee ICE will facilitate TCN memberships for some students to access events, resources and practice interacting with investors. TCN could also be extremely helpful for alumnis at more advanced stages of their business looking to raise more capital.

student-experience

My Internship at The Capital Network: Challenges

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How to work a crowd of the biggest VC investors in Boston?

My internship at The Capital Network didn’t go without a few challenges. 

First was combining classes with full time work. By taking a part time course load I managed to make myself a pretty hectic schedule. Some days I would have to run between downtown office and classrooms in Back Bay. In addition sitting in a classroom after an office was quite the cultural shock. I was surprised to find my classmates and lectures both soporific. Coming from the fast pace of the office to the classroom was like hitting a wall. I had to fire an espresso and keep my laptop in my bag in order to stay focus during (almost) the entire class.

Another challenge was dealing with criticism. It took me a while getting used to constant iteration requests on a project that lasted sometimes over a week. These requests were diverse. Eg if a marketing message sounded right in my head people who worked here for a while had a different idea of the right tone to address customers. I sometimes would have to change up to a word in a tweet. (DJ Khaled would say – Major Key Alert: Pay attention to details.) Additionally as I designed marketing materials and digital content it was often hard to agree on a visual or branding aspect before many iterations and figuring out every option. One thing I learned when doing creative work for someone else is to let any personal taste aside and make multiple suggestions until it aligns with the company’s vision. It’s harder than it sounds.

Challenge #3: explaining who you are and why you are here. At TCN we had regular affiliate meetings with big lawyers, bankers, accountants etc who sponsor the organization. My first affiliate meeting was rather interesting. In a big corporate conference room everyone was wearing a suite except me (We don’t wear suits at the office and my coworkers are all females so it was ok for them). Then I had to introduce myself to the table. I had to introduce myself countless times in work settings of this internship and I got to learn how important it is. In fact, it usually is that first impression people get out of you and you don’t get another shot if you introduce yourself in front of multiple people. They rarely change their mind after that first impression but the worst thing that can happen is not making an impression at all. I found that this happens you become invisible: people ignore you, forget about you or just don’t care at all. Reasons for that to happen are shaky introductions, lack of self confidence, inadequate body language or irrelevant introduction (when what you say about yourself doesn’t interest them at all). Obviously I got to make them up a few times. Therefore I simply made sure I always knew who I was meeting (by name), how to make myself interesting and show I wanted to be there with them.

student-experience

My Internship at The Capital Network: Cool Stuff I Did

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Cool view from one of our Sponsor’s office in Boston’s Seaport

After learning about all the operations of the organization I was able to put my marketing skills at work and started with small tasks. I learned the organization’s tone for communication and was put in charge of social media (Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn) and newsletter crafting. That allowed me to get a better understanding of who our customers were, how to reach them and talk to them. I was brought in event programming later on. Some events were part of an already established curriculum we just had to follow. Others we brainstormed and improved based on demand and feedback. Thus we had to bring speakers together in respect to a selected topic and coordinate date, venue and other logistical elements. Once the plan was laid out and agreed upon we would open registration and create content for promotion. We had to create a new page on the website using WordPress, make an Eventbrite occurrence and design flyers and visuals. I took the opportunity to learn new skills and improve my knowledge of graphic design and page layout softwares (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign).

It got a bit dull and repetitive however as I got better at WordPress I was put in charge of a new project: redesigning the website. It had been on the map for more than a year now though the team never found the time or people to do it. As a result, I came in just in time to jump start it. It significantly improved my skills in WordPress, html and CSS. My supervisor signed me up as well for google analytics workshops which taught me a lot about leveraging users data to make marketing decisions.

During the internship, I looked at every learning opportunity through the eyes of a startup founder as I wanted to get more out of it than writing great newsletters and tweets. I attended countless events sometimes up to 3 per week and learned about the whole TCN curriculum. I interacted with successful entrepreneurs from famous and less famous companies in all fields. I made invaluable connections with investors and mentors events after events. My most memorable event was probably during my first few weeks and regarded unicorn companies. I met the founders of Draft Kings and SevOne who gave incredible advice about starting high growth startups and making them into billion dollar companies. The founders started from nothing, failed many times and faced great challenges before getting there.

In addition, I was fortunate to attend pitch workshops with one their sponsor, Silicon Valley Bank and learned how to improve my own pitch. I then was offered to pitch my own startup in front of the board of advisors who gave me feedback. Through that experience I met an entrepreneur who introduced me to John Fanning, founder of Napster who is currently mentoring me on how raising capital. I am also getting advice from a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners one of the biggest VC firms in Boston.

student-experience

My Internship at The Capital Network: Work Vibes

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We organize events at cool spaces like this about every week

The organization operates from a startup co-working space/incubator based in Boston named LearnLaunch. The accelerator focuses on EdTech so we share the space with other startups in that field. TCN employees are usually here from 9-4 Monday to Friday however we move around a lot. On Monday we are often at Boston University’s startup space they named Buzz Lab as some of their interns help us run Greenhorn Connect – a more student focused part of TCN. As our events are hosted at different spaces around Boston we usually work from there on the days they happen to limit travels. Throughout my internship I was able to visit some of the coolest Boston offices where we hosted our events: Cooley’s, Google, Bessemer Venture Partners, The Hatch Fenway, Nutter McKlennen & Fish LLP, the CIC, Morgan Lewis, Wolf & CO and more.

The organization is managed by Meredith Sanford who – active in this ecosystem for many years – knows the startup journey inside out. Meredith is the managing director and is helped by event programer Marie Meslin to coordinates educative and networking events for entrepreneurs. TCN functions on a cycle basis with events based on different topics which logically follow each others in parallel with the fundraising process. A diversity of investors eager to give back rotate throughout the cycle to teach entrepreneurs about their experience on the topics. Entrepreneurs can jump in those events at any time during the cycle based on what is most relevant to their stage. The events vary in formats and sizes too to accommodate all types of entrepreneurs. There are lunch roundtables, panel discussions, evening talks, full day conferences with attendance ranging from 15 to 100. Entrepreneurs pay small fees which cover the logistics to attend. In addition, there is a membership providing access to those events for free as well as other special events and more interactions with mentors, investors and successful entrepreneurs. However, most of TCN’s capital  comes from sponsorship. Indeed, huge law firms, banks, accountants and other service providers are always needed and get a lot of business from startups. As a result, TCN would not exist without funding from those companies.

My supervisor is Meredith Sandiford and I work directly under her with Marie Meslin. As Managing Director Meredith leads the global vision for the organization and manages relationships with sponsors, the board of directors and the board of advisors. The board of directors is made of very successful members of the Boston innovation ecosystem who want to increase value and wealth in the community and create a better life within the city of Boston. They have a fiduciary duty towards TCN and meet once a month to steer the organization in the right direction and make sure it fulfills its goal. The board of advisors is made of influential members of the community as well but with a smaller implication in operations. There are many advisors on the board who help create the required connections, come to speak during events and take advantage of it to meet new entrepreneurs and invest in exciting opportunities.

 

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