Case Study - Songflow

February 27, 2024

During the pandemic Jacob Critch and Rikki Scicluna were met with one the most brow-furrowing problems of music production: real-time collaboration between producers and artists had become nearly impossible. Like any passionate producers though, they pushed through, made music, and created hits; to them, the difficulty seemed to be more of an inconvenience than a show-stopper.

Their perspective was short lived. As the struggles of remote collaboration amplified, inconveniences became roadblocks, and the entire creative process was challenged. Undeterred, the duo saw their struggles as an opportunity wrapped in two questions: How do you remove the headaches of music production to easily work with artists around the world? And how do you disrupt a well established industry?

In search of their answer, Critch and Scicluna created Songflow, a real-time, remote music collaboration tool. Drawing from their own experience, they roadmapped the platform and built their first minimum viable product (MVP). Still though, questions came quicker than answers. How do you turn an idea into a business? And more importantly, would customers even care? 

Like many first-time founders, they had to step out of their comfort zone and challenge the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mindset. When the team first joined the Propel Vision & Validation cohort, they came full of uncertainty about their market and, like many of their peers, had an MVP that relied heavily on a subjective interpretation of needs, derived from an incomplete set of assumptions and experiences. While a good start, introspection is best considered a first step; to understand who they were going to sell to, they needed to understand the market that was going to buy it, and to do that, they needed to speak to customers.

Under the guidance of their coach, they began an intense customer discovery journey that helped them redefine their audience and create their first ideal customer profile (ICP). They were no longer focused on the broad, ambiguous market that is “anyone who.. ”, but rather a tangible subset they could directly target and engage. Using the Propel customer discovery frameworks they created an initial sales process and crafted a new unique value proposition (UVP). They learned that good customer discovery goes many questions deeper than simply knowing whether a potential user liked what they were building, and that it is a skill that requires consistency and practice.

As they worked through their customer discovery process, the accountability of their startup coach kept them on track, and kept their biases in check. The deep, meaningful conversations with their new ICP gave them a better sense of the product their customer wanted, and of the one they needed to build.

They also started to build the foundation of Songflow as a business. They came out of Propel with a strong understanding of their operational and legal requirements, created their first financial model, and had a clear sense of the human and capital resources required to scale.The fog was lifted, and they now knew exactly what they needed to do.

Key Takeaway: Founders come from many different backgrounds and have many different perspectives. Sometimes though, these perspectives can create biases that actually inhibit the scalability of a startup. It is important to understand that ultimately, success is found when a clear market is defined, and defining that market comes from an engaged customer discovery process. Afterall, it is not only important to build the software correctly, but to build the correct software.