UmJammer Lammy

London startup of the week: This Is My Jam

Elliot Bentley
jam-startup

Our exploration of London’s startup scene continues with a music-centric social network begun “as a lazy weekend project”.

Each week, we’ll be featuring the most exciting and innovative
startups in JAXenter’s hometown of London. To nominate startups to
be featured on the site, email elliotb@sandsmedia.com.

Our exploration of London’s startup scene continues with an
interview with Matthew Ogle, the co-founder of This Is My Jam, a year-old social
network for music fans.

What’s your elevator pitch?

This Is My Jam is the best place to put your favorite song right
now — the one you can’t get out of your head. A bit like a musical
“current status”, we make it easy to personalise and share a song
across all your networks. Then when you follow people, you get all
their current favourites in a convenient playlist. Our focus on
slow, considered song sharing means the quality of music and
discovery is really high.

When was the company founded?

We actually started out inside another company! The first version
of Jam began in late 2011 as a side-project incubated by our parent
organisation, Boston-based music data startup The Echo Nest. By the
time we launched our public beta in February 2012, we were getting
enough traction that we started taking steps to spin out into a
separate entity, and we’re figuring out how to finalise that
process now.

How many staff, and what do they do?

There are just four of us so we all wear a lot of hats. Roughly, I
(thisismyjam.com/flaneur)
lead product, Hannah Donovan (thisismyjam.com/han) leads
design, Ralph Cowling (thisismyjam.com/_ralph) and
Andreas Jansson (thisismyjam.com/ndreasa)
manage the front- and back-ends of the service, respectively. All
four of us are pretty immersed in music and tech; Hannah and I each
spent 5+ years at Last.fm, Ralph runs club nights and does pirate
radio, and Andreas has just started a part-time PhD at City
University in music informatics.

Where are your offices based, and what are they like
inside?

The Jam Factory is inside Shoreditch Works, a fairly new
co-working space on Scrutton St. We share the space with a lot of
interesting young startups, and the building itself with some more
established players like MOO. Our corner has a lot of band posters
and stuff posted up, plus a couple displays mounted on an autopole
that reflect site stats and usage back at us. Unless, of course,
there’s a space
launch
or a tech
keynote
on!

What technologies are you working with (client and server
side)?

Our stack is fairly diverse, but at its core is a pretty
traditional LAMP setup running almost entirely on Amazon servers.
(You can blame the PHP on me, a symptom of Jam starting on my
laptop in 2011 as a lazy weekend project!) Things get more modern
at the edges; we have a Python-based testing and deploy setup, an
increasing amount of data in Redis, and a healthy sprinkling of the
usual JS frameworks plus some Node on the front end.

What technical difficulties did you overcome to get to
market?

We wanted Jam to “just work” with existing sources of music content
online, so that the next time you found an amazing track on
SoundCloud, YouTube, or any other service, Jam could help you
personalise and showcase that song, as well as help you share it
out to Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Last.fm, etc.

Doing that in a way that is not only efficient, but also looks
great, always plays, and is downright fun is an ongoing challenge
that spans everything from API plumbing through to copywriting. But
it’s a challenge we relish; the end result is a much more focused
and beautiful kind of song sharing that’s more rewarding than just
chucking another Youtube link onto Facebook.

What are the company’s plans for the future?

We’re in the process of figuring that out! We have big ambitions,
from going mobile to building cool new ways of sharing and
exploring our growing universe of favorite songs. We’re currently
to talking to a lot of folks and looking at various structures that
might let us do that.

What are your three top tips for wannabe
entrepreneurs?

If you can, scratch your own itch. If you’re working on something
you care about and that you genuinely want in the world so that you
can use it, you can rely a lot more on instinct and move a lot
quicker.

If you don’t have the skills to draw, code, or develop your own
prototypes to explore your ideas, then spend some time learning
how. It’ll help you find the right way to execute your idea, and
when you hire people more talented than yourself to help scale
(which you should also do!), you’ll understand each other a bit
better.

Answer support emails from your users yourself. Nothing helps
prioritise feature development like having to write the same
response over and over.

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