If there’s one thing I’ve learned about running a business over the past four years, it’s that there are plenty of skills that I don’t have. No matter how much passion, excitement, and good intentions I may have for festivals and the festival community, it doesn’t always translate into a successful business. Thankfully, I’ve matured enough to recognize this shortcoming, and the universe has always provided me with everything I need right when I need it.
This was exactly the case last March: I was at the Pandora party during SXSW and while I was waiting in line for a drink my buddy Trey came running up and said that there was someone I HAD TO MEET! Apparently he’d met a guy who worked on some sort of app similar to FestEvo (my app). After I got my drink, Trey introduced me to a guy named Stefan. I could instantly tell that Stefan was one of those uber-cool San Francisco tech nerds who are taking over the world right now. Stefan explained that he worked as a user interface designer for a company whose app allows you to listen to bands that will be playing in your town within the next week. I liked Stefan instantly; he was very witty and had a unique sense of humor. After a few drinks, we friended each other on Facebook, parted ways, and headed back into the craziness of SXSW.
What makes Facebook such an incredible tool is the way it gives you a glimpse into someone’s life. And checking out Stefan’s page gave me a real appreciation of how truly awesome he is. His posts introduced me to Balanced Breakfast, a weekly group chat he leads that allows musicians to come together and learn about the business side of the music industry. Just from following along on Facebook, it was clear to me that Balanced Breakfast meant a lot to a lot of artists. It was also catching on fast, having spread to Oakland and Toronto. Keeping track of this page made me ever more intrigued about this random guy I’d met at SXSW.
Fast forward to a few months to July. I was driving from LA to Mendocino County for a festival called Northern Nights. It was a long drive up a straight, uncrowded highway (don’t text and drive kids!). I checked the ol’ Facebook, only to discover a post from Mr. Balanced Breakfast himself explaining that his ride fell through and he wasn’t going to make it to the festival. I immediately messaged him that I could pick him up, and the next thing I knew he was riding shotgun as we drove into the mountains of Northern California.
There’s no better way to get to know someone than to go to a festival with them. You get to see the person interact with strangers, you get to see how they function on little to no sleep and, most importantly, you get to see how hard they dance. Stefan passed every test with flying colors. He was also a super-solid festivalgoer. The downtime at the festival and hours of driving there and back also allowed me to get to know him as a person. By the end of the trip, I was certain that I’d come across a true legend in the making and I decided that this guy needed to be the co-captain of FestEvo.
I offered him the job of Vice President right there, but he couldn’t accept. He loved the idea and the potential of FestEvo, but he wasn’t in a position to make the leap into a barebones startup. Leaving his steady job would just be too risky. I was denied, but Stefan agreed to help out on the side with some graphic design work I needed, so I took that as a win. That lasted about a month, when the universe did me a solid. Out of nowhere, the company Stefan was working for downsized, which put him in a position to give FestEvo a go. BOOM! I got my guy.
It’s been four months now, and Stefan has completely changed FestEvo. The new product we will release in March is absolutely stunning. It far exceeds anything I imagined my idea could turn into. And the best part is that we’re just getting started!
Here’s a video of Stefan fronting a band called Frokost (Norwegian for “breakfast”) at a Balanced Breakfast event called Rock Lotto. Essentially, the members were randomly divided into nine groups of four, and each group had a month to form a band. Stefan clamied he had no musical talent and was nervous about not being able to contribute to his own band. Of course, he became the lead singer of the band that won the whole event.
Welcome to FestEvo, Stefan. I’m thrilled to have you here.