🎙Founder Stories: How Tanya built a global social music platform called Lishash.

It was a tough start to the year, needless to say that I had to put a lot of things on hold to focus on recovering from COVID 😷 .  

I’m happy to tell you that I’m back to 100% and I’m so pumped to get back speaking to my founder friends. This afternoon, I’m going to be talking to Tanya Desai

Tanya is the Co-founder of Lishash, a social music platform that brings people together through their love of music. 🎶

It’s been an interesting journey for Tanya, finishing her post-graduate degree, getting her first job, quitting and following her dreams as an entrepreneur. 🚀

I can’t wait to dive into this interview and dig into some of the challenges that come with launching a social music Startup that centres around building a community.

…but before we get into this month’s blog, I’d love to connect with you!

Soooo, let’s do it follow me on twitter (DMs always open) 📨

Welcome to the Founder Stories Podcast Tanya and thank you for joining us today.  I’m interested in finding out about you and your journey into entrepreneurship.

💡 Please tell us about your Startup journey?

Thanks for having me Olu, not sure where to start…

Let’s just say that…one minute I was finishing my degree, the next I was running a Startup. Everything just happened so fast. Usually, people put a lot of thought into entrepreneurship, but my journey into Startup was different, it happened rather quickly for me.

So, here’s my story.

I finished my post-graduate degree just before the pandemic started. During my course I’d began to develop an interest in non-mainstream digital media and thought, perhaps this was going to be the career for me, so I decided to pursue it to see where it took me.

As with any recent university graduate full of optimism, I applied to quite a few jobs. I was hoping for the best but appreciated that first jobs post-university are very difficult to secure. Whilst I had a few rejections, luck was on my side.  I had a number of interviews, and one such interview was at an advertising and marketing agency. They saw something in me, and they gave an amazing opportunity as a marketing executive.

As life would have it, a week after I’d received my letter, the pandemic started. Life as we knew it changed overnight and we all ended up spending more time behind our computers.

So, imagine this, I’m fresh out of university, working at a digital ad agency as a creative strategist, but I had no way of interacting and engaging with my new team. This was extremely frustrating and certainly not the way I’d envisaged starting my working life. In fact, the very first meeting with my team was over a Google meet call.

At around the same time, a friend of mine who is a musician introduced me to this new app called Lishash. At the time Lishash was just a music recommendation app that helped you meet new people. It was at a very early stage and the social aspect didn’t exist.  

This was the beginning of my Startup story with Lishash. I started using the app quite a bit and I began giving Shashwat (founder of Lishash) some feedback as a user. I had regular discussions with Shashwat and this eventually led to our friendship. We became really good friends, and I’d found my passion. This was what I always wanted to do, so I quit advertising and joined Lishash as a Co-founder.

💡 I’d love to know more about your Cofounder?

Shashwat founded Lishash at the end of 2018, but his journey was a little more interesting, and I’m sure he’d love to share it with you soon.

He was studying neurobiology, physics, and psychology at UCLA whilst also being heavily into music. During his time at UCLA, he started working at a research lab where he began investigating how to work with emotions and music.

In his free time, Shashwat started building an emotion detection hardware that would give you music recommendation based on Goosebumps (Frisson is the technical term for this feeling).

The reality was that Shashwat is a creative, he wanted to scratch this itch and explore the world to find his purpose. Structured education was not for him, so he dropped out of UCLA to travel the world.

The bug to progress his initial experiments with music and emotion drew him back to India at the end of 2018 where he started working on Lishash full time.

💡 What is the essence of your Startup – Lishash?

If you love music, you’ll love our Startup. All experiences with Lishash starts online, of course you can take this offline and probably go for a coffee or go for a run together, but the starting point we want to create is a digital friendship that begins with shared music experiences.

We’ve spent the last 4 years at our Startup building a social layer on top of music streaming. We feel that music streaming is quite an individual experience, so we are bringing a social element to it.

When you login to the Lishash application, you’re going to see a bunch of listening sessions (similar to something like twitter spaces). These are music rooms where people come together to listen to music and chat online.

We’ve created the sessions in such a way that they are categorized or themed by emotion, by artists, by album or by day of the week – “Lazy Sunday Vibes” You enter rooms that you might be interested in, and you meet people listening to the same music.

We are changing the way social media apps currently work today, right now social media platforms are centred around randomly adding followers. This just creates an audience without common interests. We want to change that at our Startup, and we want to build organic friendships through music.  

💡 Where is your Startup today?

Lishash today is a Startup focused on creating a music community platform for shared experiences.

Imagine this, we started with an emotion detection hardware and through this experiment we discovered Lishash as a social music platform. We’ve been a bootstrapped Startup for the last four years and, we’ve had eight pivots. Yes, eight pivots, but each pivot has been a layer of understanding that’s gotten us to where we are today. We think this is going to be our final one though.

We now have a very holistic Startup, a music platform that’s accessible to people all over the world.  

💡 Are you fundraising for your Startup soon?

Right now we are looking for the right investors, the ones that understand how communities are built.

We are looking for investors who understand that the growth metrics for communities are going to be entirely different and the metrics for conscious technology cannot be about how fast you grow necessarily, but how that growth really converts into engagement.

A conversion for us must translate to meaningful engagements and deep connections. This is specific to the value our Startup brings to our users and I can say this is part of our value proposition.  These can be quantifiable and there are investors in this field who understand communities extremely well. 

Yes, we want to raise funds, but we want to raise funds from investors who understand our industry or we’d rather not fundraise at all. This is how we are looking at it.

💡 What challenges are you facing today?

One of the biggest challenges we face right now is how to educate people about growing a community. How do we tell them that growing a Startup like ours is not going to happen overnight?

We’re not building a social media Startup like Facebook that’s going go viral and to grow to 6 million users in 2 years. Facebook was launched as FaceMash in 2003 and by 2005 it had just over 6 million users! We accept that building a community is going to be a long process and a slow burn in terms of growth.

Also, not everybody understands the distinction between a social music platform and a social media platform. The Internet right now allows semi anonymity, and this means that you can behave in ways that you might not do in your real-life.

Our challenge is ensuring that we create an environment that’s underpinned by empathy and acceptance. This requires due diligence on each member, but how do we create this without ruining the onboarding experience whilst embracing user growth. That’s a huge challenge.

We want people to feel like they can be vulnerable, be themselves and hang out with each other online. That entire experience requires empathy and acceptance. How do we integrate that experience into the creation of our social music community Startup? That I think is quite challenging.

💡 What advice would you give first time founders?

If I have to give one advice, it would not be anything specific to our Startup. My advice is more around personal life goals, in the sense that every founder needs to be in love with why they want to become a founder.

Being a founder is much more than money or status. My advice is this, don’t become a founder if you’re not working for a vision larger than money and other material things.

I feel that being a founder and running a Startup should be for those people that care about adding value to the world, not just solving a problem. Vision is something that’s driven me up to this point.

I am not a big fan of how the Startup ecosystem works today, but I am able to persevere through these annoyances because I’m working towards a bigger vision.

💡 How can we help your Startup ?

We’re trying to develop a community, right now it’s India centric, and we want to reach people across the world who are really passionate about music.

We want to connect Lishash with people building communities all over the world. We just want to attract the right people right now.

We want you to help us with sharing our story with people who are interested in being a part of a music community.

After this interview, I made this above post about music and shared it with my followers. This was super engaging, Tanya and Lishash were tagged to generate engagement. I’ll continue to push Lishash to communities in my network

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We’ll catch up again soon, many blogs coming up

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main image provided by Photo by Sanjay Hona on Unsplash 🙏