Don’t be afraid to fail.
Every Wednesday we will be highlighting a new Utah-launched crowdfunding campaign. If you would like Beehive Startups to highlight your crowdfunding campaign, contact us here.
Utah Valley University Senior Andrew Nielsen launched a Kickstarter campaign to generate revenue to produce 8Scape, an innovative sheet music folder. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Nielsen to learn more about 8Scape, his background, and much more.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Montana but spent most of my life growing up in sunny St. George, UT. I attended Snow Canyon High School followed by Dixie State University. I graduated a half year early, so I could get an early jump on college and ended up graduating from Dixie with my A.S. just prior to leaving for a 2 year LDS Church Mission. In May 2009 I left for a mission in Ghana, West Africa. I loved my experiences as a missionary. I returned to Dixie for an additional year of study before transferring up to Utah Valley University. I will be graduating at the end of April with my B.S. in Business Management.
My first experience in entrepreneurship was prior to my mission. I was 17–18 years old at the time. I noticed my Dad had a lot of old Vinyl records and wondered what kind of music he grew up listening to. I researched the matter further and found some good equipment to purchase that would allow me to transfer records from LP to CD format. My Dad eventually became the first of many customers for my interesting side business. I later expanded to transfer cassette tapes in addition to LP’s.
Tell us about 8Scape.
My Father, Perry Nielsen, was the one who actually came up with the idea for the “8Scape” folder. My family, dubbed the “Nielsen Family Singers,” used to perform at venues like the St. George Tabernacle and St. George Visitors Center in addition to other local performances. During the course of all these performances, my Father became frustrated with the hassles associated with using sheet music. If his music wasn’t getting lost, it was getting bent, blown, or turned wrong. He set out to solve the problem and the result was the first prototype of 8Scape. It was created using multiple file folders that were taped together. Seeing the potential that lay within the invention, I took it upon myself to take the product from concept to reality. After many challenges, I was able to find a satisfactory manufacturer and raise some money for product development. I won two competitions at UVU to help raise money for the product (Opportunity Quest ($3,500) and UVU Innovate ($500). Most of the money was used to pay for patent expenses (patent pending) and manufacturing set-up costs. Personal and family contributions have about exceeded the amounts I won in competitions.
8Scape is more than a sheet music folder! It is a hope, a faith, and dream in cheering for the “underdogs” in life. 8Scape is a belief in something (music) that influences, improves, and enriches lives. MuZicScape (the company) is a company that promotes harmony in a “noisy” world. Investing in “8Scape (product)” and “MuZicScape (company)” means investing in an individual who believes in working hard to catch their dreams. It means investing in an entrepreneur who has many other fascinating ideas if he can muster enough resources to bring them about. Standing by MuZicScape means standing by a family who have largely dedicated their lives to music and the pursuit of a higher calling, something more than money can ever bring.
If successful in raising $5,000 we would use the money to purchase inventory, do more product development work (we have a cheaper version of our folder in the works that should be done very soon), and engage in a variety of marketing activities. $5,000 is a meager but sufficient number that would allows us to accomplish the above mentioned goals. With more money, we could accelerate our progress and serve our customers more quickly.
Kickstarter provides a good platform for entrepreneurs to validate their business ideas. It also gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to interact with potential customers without having a huge risk. The financial backing that comes with a successful Kickstarter is also instrumental in being able to allow entrepreneurs to iterate when they need to. I have heard many experienced businessmen say that a startup is a business in search of a business model. This rings true for me as well as a multitude of other startups.
What does the future of 8Scape look like? Where will the company be in five years?
We are already registered as a business. The business is known as MuZicScape. Our first product is “8Scape” an attractive, multi-page music presentation folder that has a surprising amount of additional uses (business presentation, client presentation, portable storyboard, menu, school folder, business event folder, etc.). I see MuZicScape expanding it’s product line to include more musical products in the next five years. For starters, we will have a standard and deluxe version of 8Scape. The current 8Scape folder would be considered the deluxe option. I plan to have both of those products selling online and in music stores no later than the end of the year and most likely much sooner. My oldest sibling, Amy Nielsen (recently accepted to a PhD program in vocal performance) is also near completion on an ear-training course. My eldest brother, Jacob Nielsen is an avid composer and has yet to release some of his great work. He plans to release some of his compositions under the MuZicScape name. I see MuZicScape as a niche botique musical destination for the lover of music whether hobbyist or professional. Entrepreneurship is about iterating quickly and creating solutions that improve peoples lives. In a business sense, entrepreneurship is about finding repeat customers. Do I have a business model designed for 5 years out? Nope…but I am good at solving problems and working with my customers. Developing a startup is tough yet rewarding. Melodies are starting to ring out. Beautiful “MuZic” will be heard. We can’t say everything with words and we shouldn’t, so we say things with music. My family speaks the language of music as well as any language and probably better than all the others. “What we can’t say with words, we say with music.” We believe in promoting the mission and power of music throughout the world….that anyone anywhere can speak a language that speaks to every heart :).
Year 1: MuZicScape launches two versions of 8Scape: Deluxe version and standard version.
Year 2: MuZicScape continues to research the music market including (sheet music, music education, musical products and accessories, etc.)
Year 3: MuZicScape continues to iterate and develop its customers into loyal fans. Begin to discover a repeatable and sustainable business model.
Year 4: Honestly, I don’t know.
Year 5: Honesty, I don’t know.
While we are currently functioning as a business, we are also exploring licensing opportunities with interested companies as that would allows us to grow more quickly and develop more products and services. We hope to see our products in every local music store whether it is through the efforts of running our own business or the result of licensing deals.
What advice do you have for other entreprenuers interested in raising money through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter?
Research the best: Find the best campaigns that have been successful. Study what they did. Pattern what you do after them as you would a role model. Have a marketing plan and strategy (hard!). This is something I’ve struggled with, due to my lack of resources and experience. You may have the best product in the world, but if you don’t know how to promote it, you’ll probably be “dead in the water.” The age-old advice of finding mentors, networking, and selling your project to everyone you can is as applicable to a Kickstarter as anything else. In the end, if you do nothing else, just go for it, pivot and learn as you go, and even if you “failed” you have succeeded. Be creative! Think outside the box! There are a hundred ways to promote an idea or business if you aren’t afraid to “get out of the building, out of your chair, and off the phone,” so you can talk to real people and potential customers.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Mitigate your risks as much as possible but accept the fact that their will always be things you may not understand or foresee. Believe in yourself, work hard, and remember your vision. Get out of “the building.” Don’t hide behind a desk, phone, or computer. Talk to people. Talk to your customers. Serve them to the best of your abilities. Entrepreneurship is more about attracting resources than allocating them (Kent Millington). I love Richard Branson’s list.
What’s your favorite startup quote?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain