By Heidi Darling (CEO & Co-Founder, Songnote)
Born in Guatemala while my father was helping start the tea company Celestial Seasonings, I spent a good deal of my life watching companies ebb and flow… music on the other hand was permanent fixture. Graham Nash was part of our circle on Kauai, as was Natalie Merchant – she gave my sister voice lessons. All six of us took piano and voice, listened to music constantly and related to each – other primarily thru song. Making mixtapes/CDs/iTunes playlists for Christmas presents was the way we shared what was going on in our lives, how we said “I love you.”
Fast forward 10 years, I had enjoyed a successful career in marketing and was ready to stop working to start a family with my new husband. As it turned out, I loved my new daughter to the ends of the earth but I really missed working and being part of something bigger. I didn’t, however, miss working for a large corporation.
As I thought about what my next move was going to be, it became more and more clear that I needed to put my type-A drive to good use – for my own company. On a parallel track, I was listening to a lot more music being home on maternity leave; almost every song brought up a memory, a person’s face, a time in my life or simply another band that was similar. And there was no easy way to share that song and sentiment from my smart phone. There was no existing platform that connected via music, especially one that transcended a variety of listening habits.
Once the weight of that settled in, and the realization that I needed to build the solution to that problem, there was no turning back. I started doing market research, tossing different business models around and then I told some friends about it. Their exact words were “if you don’t do it, I’m going to”. Game on.
It’s been a long journey, full of blind turns and some desolate stretches. We hired the wrong developer, ran into some copyright issues but we kept at it. I always heard my dad’s voice “saying persistence is key”…I don’t know if if it’s persistence or stubbornness but it seems to be working.
Songnote really started taking off when I got accepted into Astia’s global entrepreneur program. Their “bootcamp” and ensuing advisory period has been a key part of our success. From panels on valuation and vesting periods, to my awesome advisors who help with everything from patents to leadership advice, Astia is a critical accelerator for my startup.
We released a new version of our app last week that’s ideal for Valentine’s Day messaging. We have another in the pipeline for March release and are actively pursuing a seed round to help us scale to meet demand.
Songnote 3.0 lets music do the talking by leveraging the emotional impact of a song into a powerful communication. We’ve been thrilled by the number of downloads and the number of users sending Valentine’s Day cards with it – really cool timing.
It’s a wild ride and I would have it no other way.
Women 2.0 readers: Will you be joining Women 2.0 for our annual conference on Valentine’s Day, with Songnote in hand?
About the guest blogger: Heidi Darling is the CEO and Co-Founder of Songnote. As former Marketing VP at Moana / Auberge Group, Heidi is never satisfied with the status quo and is exceedingly driven when challenged. Innovative and agile, she’s known for doing more with less and for excelling on the road less traveled. Her years in the corporate workforce managing 25+ teams to meet projected sales while staying on budget have made her comfortable with making tough decisions. Follow her on Twitter at @getsongnote.