Chew.tv: “A sideline project [turned] into something more.”
Chew.tv, runner-up of the last Music TechPitch 4.5, aims to “help the world make more music, share more music, and love more music.” Chew is an online community that enables DJs to communicate, provide support, and share music samples. As well as DJs, Chew is also for lovers of electronic and sampled music.
“A sideline project [turned] into something more.”
Ben Bowler’s music and technology career began early. A drummer since the age of six, he also studied technology at school. He left college to freelance and run an e-learning start-up. But his interest in electronic music and DJing grew, and he came to London to get experience via internships.
“I started at a company called AEI Media as a marketing intern and went from there to become a key member of the team, building their live streaming and e-commerce platform,” he explained. “From there I moved to Vice to work on their ad sales and internal business apps – and enjoy the pub they own in Shoreditch!”
Bowler says the seed that became Chew came out of working for AEI. “Live streaming was a critical way of pushing new content and promoting releases to a global audience,” he said.
Meeting Chew co-founder Wil Benton was, Bowler, said, a turning point. “I’d been introduced to Wil the year before and loved his writing style and approach to life from his blog FatKidOnFire,” he said. “After working on a small project together, we started on what was then a sideline project that turned into something more.”
“We had the core of a live-streaming platform for music.”
With the help of a start-up loan, Chew officially came into being at the start of 2014. “We had the core of a live-streaming platform for music, but we lacked focus,” said Bowler. “By the end of the year we were charging as much as £500 per month to use the platform, but we’d become more of a production company than a platform.”
At the end of 2014 Chew was accepted into the Ignite accelerator program, which helped them re-focus and re-build the platform into what it is now. Since then, Chew has seen a rapid increase in the number of DJs and music fans coming into the community.
Practice what you pitch
Chew’s time with Ignite proved a good grounding for their pitch at Music TechPitch 4.5. Bowler said he practiced the three-minute pitch “every day for the preceding week.” He admits he was nervous taking the stage and pitching to the near 100 attendees, but, he says, “I felt it came across just right.”
“Chew is exactly the kind of start-up that can do well at Music TechPitch 4.5,” said 2Pears co-founder Rassami Hok Ljungberg, who creates and organizes the event. “Chew is using technology to meet a need that has not yet been properly addressed, and a strong example of the high-calibre of start-ups in the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Bowler said the other companies at the event “were a really interesting mix.” He particularly enjoyed speaking to Peter at Musiqli, which aims to solve the organisational needs of musicians. “That feels like a unique area with a real need for improvement,” he said.
“Connecting and reconnecting with those in the music industry.”
For Bowler, the best part of the evening was the networking portion, which for him was connecting and reconnecting with those in the music industry. “Before and after the event I caught up with lots of interesting people from the BBC, ex-EMI and Universal employees, as well as those from the sponsors Clintons,” he said.
Chew closed a seed round just before appearing at Music TechPith 4.5, and is about to hire their first employee. Its aim is to rapidly grow its audience through marketing and exclusive one-off streamed events with big name artists and brands. “We’re also keeping our ear to the ground for any upcoming pitch contests,” said Bowler.
“Focus on the core of why you’re building your start-up.”
Bowler’s advice to anyone aspiring to start their company is to seek out and get together with like-minded individuals. “Nothing moved as fast for me until Wil and I teamed up,” he said.
Now a veteran pitcher, Bowler had learned what makes a successful pitch. “The key is to focus on the core of why you’re building your start-up. Go for the big vision that gets the attention of judges or investors. If they want to know more – if you’ve grabbed their attention – they’ll ask.”