Founders Bootcamp Alumni Spotlight: Amp.it (W18-FBGB)

Amp.it

Amp.it is a technology and media entertainment industry company that looks to disrupt the current processes of engagement with entertainers and their audiences. It’s an interactive digital media “echosystem” that makes it easy for content creators to connect with their best fans. Founder Derrick Ashong created Amp.it in hopes of connecting fans with their entertainment idols. By doing so, the company understands different audiences and groups much better than other media platforms like YouTube. They have developed more advanced analytics that allow producers and content creators to better understand their markets and their consumers’ behaviors.

At first, Derrick got started in the industry as a touring band member. He was creating and producing a lot of great content, but he shifted his focus when he returned to his alma mater, Harvard, for PhD research on how concepts of open-source software could influence content promotion. Derrick began to notice certain trends on how programmers and content producers think about intellectual property. Despite naysayers – including his professors –  graduate school guided Derrick into media and entertainment entrepreneurship, where it led to him running business development for a multi-platinum music producer and hosting a show on Oprah Radio. Later, he was recruited by Al Jazeera English to build a show where young people around the world use Twitter to decide what the news is, and what they want to hear about – they had the perfect opportunity to make their voices heard, as immediately after Derrick began hosting the show, the Arab Spring broke out, shaped by the voices of young people on social media.

Derrick’s band, Soulfège, had charted #4 in his native Ghana, right behind Beyoncé, reaching 100 million+ fans in 50+ countries.  That’s when Derrick realized that he didn’t know who his fans were, so he could not re-target them for his next album release.  A lightbulb went off in his head that Beyoncé, and the entire Media & Entertainment industry, had the same problem.  That’s when he knew he wanted to utilize digital and social media to transform how artists and other content owners connect with their audiences.

What came next was the question of how one can engage with the content beyond the viewership. No one had any idea who was buying the music, tickets, movies, and so on. There was a missing piece in understanding who the precise audience was and who the best engagers for a piece of content were. The lack of data pushed Derrick to produce something where the content creator can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the content consumer. There is a consumer-facing component, but there is also a business-to-business aspect that is more important for the content aggregator and producer. Amp.it is designed to help those people understand the nature of the market and how to communicate with their audience for their needs.

Derrick took the initial risk to start Amp.it after working with a lot of influential people in the media world, but he aspired to be his own boss. By starting Amp.it, Derrick felt like he could explore his full creative potential. Before he entered the market, the industry was being run by large companies like Facebook and YouTube. What differentiates Amp.it from them is that those companies tell you how many people viewed your content, but they do not tell you who they are. Netflix and Amazon, on the other hand, are not that interactive, but they produce amazing content. These companies will not show the audience data results and the analytics to the content producers. You could be a world-class producer for a show on Netflix and not know who your viewers are. Amp.it changes the content climate by bringing a social feel where you can share the audience with the producers. With Amp.it, the user controls their own data, and the creator can push out a message to receive a response at a much more rapid pace and monetize their platform by sharing audiences with other companies.

Initially, the company did not see the growth that they wanted. The biggest roadblock Amp.it had to overcome was capitalization – raising money in Silicon Valley. It took years to receive the capital they needed, but this caused them to figure out how to generate the revenue they needed to grow. They would take meetings with investors, but many of them would not understand the pure potential in the marketplace.

Derrick met Kim Folsom during an executive screening call, where she encouraged him to consider the Founders Bootcamp. Derrick says it was one of the best decisions he has ever made for his company.  It provided the roadmap of how to be a fully functional company. They were able to focus on scaling, fundraising, developing recurring revenue models, operations and building infrastructure. After going through other accelerators, Derrick thought it would be similar to the rest, but he was blown away by the attention to detail. Going into the Founders Bootcamp, Derrick did not know enough about how to manage personnel nor how to create internal systems. Once he went through the Founders Bootcamp, he developed the skills and knowledge on how to implement the necessary processes into his business. By establishing new recurring revenue models, Derrick was able to scale Amp.it instantly.

In the next 3 to 5 years, Derrick believes Amp.it will be a multi-billion dollar worldwide enterprise that redefines the industry by establishing a better relationship with consumers and content creators. Amp.it was accepted as one of the top eleven startups in the world for Google Demo Day. He received a lead investment from Astia Angels in Silicon Valley. And Amp.it won the Founders First Capital Growth pitch contest.  Derrick recently closed several deals with global companies that will generate an increase in revenue in several different areas.

The company has put a lot of investment into Amp.it, and in order for them to become the global brand they hope to be, they have had to cultivate an immense amount of patience. All of that patience seems to be paying off. Derrick estimates they will be profitable by June 2019.

One piece of  advice that Derrick wants to share with the small business community is:

“Take a hard and honest look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses and pivot as many times as necessary to reach a brighter destination.”

-Derrick Ashong

Make sure to check out Amp.it to learn more about their journey and their plans for the future.

 

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