Above: Ravi Ramkeesoon.
BitDepth#1123 for December 14
Here’s everything you need to know up front. Ravi Ramkeesoon is developing a data-driven app designed to connect musicians and bands with their fan base across the world.
Here’s something you probably don’t need to know. The 36-year-old entrepreneur was raised on a chicken farm at Las Lomas No.1 before leaving T&T to join his family in the United States thirty years ago.
The migration began with his father’s departure in November of 1988 and he made the trip in June of 1989.
It would not be accurate to say he’s never looked back.
“Five years ago, I was listening to Machel Montano’s Mr Fete,” Ramkeesoon recalled.
“That song just represented such a leap forward in how soca was packaged and produced. I couldn’t see any difference between that and anything that was playing on mainstream radio in New York. Why wasn’t it on the radio?”
So he decided to find out. He convened focus groups and braintrusts of people interested in Caribbean music and in mainstream music marketing.
“I needed a wider scope of talents and experiences, not just people who are embedded in the music industry.”
So he called on people from a range of disciplines, people at Viacom, Billboard, MTV and more.
The discussions revealed common themes that kept arising and a led to deeper discoveries about what’s happening in the music industry globally and a deeper insight into what the problems are.
He also began to draw on his interest in the analysis of datasets. The problems and challenges tumbled around in his head until March 2016, when he ended up chatting with a Microsoft engineer at the MIT Global Entrepreneur Bootcamp Startup Pitch Competition in Korea and a solution began to take shape.
A month after that, he immersed himself in data visualisation and began to realise that the “avalanche of numbers” could be turned into actionable form.
Ramkeesoon presented the concept to the IDB in Washington in June at a 30 under 30 conference and began to win interest in the project.
“Information is king,” Ramkeesoon said, “and I became interested in data, and being able to predict what people will do before they decide to do it. Data analysis is a change agent.”
Curiously enough when he attended college in the US in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, he refused to get involved in technology and instead moved toward management.
He was offered jobs in banking and finance, but ended up drifting to tech, and his first job out of school was with The Rauch Foundation, where he worked on the longislandindex.org, a big data project. He was hooked.
“Entrepreneurship is a holy word for me. Having a vision and building a company are both complementary and necessary things. I need to have a understanding of the technology as well as all the elements that support the business.”
“I’m not a programmer or a developer, I’m an entrepreneur,” he said, “I conceptualise what to build and how to develop the architecture to support the idea and make it successful.”
The passion project that Machel Montano fired up five years ago is now called Findmyfans and it’s actively seeking funding. It has an introductory website at findmyfans.co and will begin by providing data analysis culled from social media to give musicians insight into where their work is being played.
If an artist is big enough (or organised enough) to have Wikipedia page, the app will be pre-populated with information from that source.
At launch, musicians will be able to view the popularity of their music and drill down almost to the street level to see where their fans are.
The Findmyfans app will also create localised charts of popular music at the same level of granularity.
Ramkeesoon is working on the project with Patricia Meschino, a writer for Billboard who is handling PR and Media Relations, Dave Ramdehal, a former designer at ESPN and Edwina Tom, who advises on entrepreneurship and finance.
“This really isn’t a music business, it’s a data business, and the first problem we’re solving is a music problem.”
“Every single time we have analysed data for artists both big and small, there have been surprises. There will be these pockets of interest in countries they had no idea about. Music gets to people. This project is an opportunity for the creators to connect with their customers.”
“Fans you don’t know about are a pot of gold you haven’t visited yet.”
Beta testing for the app will begin in June or July 2018 for a month, with a planned launch date of September 2018.
Ramkeesoon has been funding the project to this stage of its development on his own.
“It’s been quite a chunk,” he admitted.
“We are being very selective and vigilant about finding the right people to partner with. We would love to have a Caribbean investor, a Rihanna or a Nicki Minaj to get on board. If that doesn’t happen I’m committed to making it happen on my own.”