Founding Student Name(s): Tony Sims II
Brief Description of Solution: Apollo Music is a music-tech startup that helps musical creatives prep for, organize, and collaborate on musical projects with AI-enhanced creativity tools like our AI songwriting assistant. With Apollo, artists, producers, and music creatives alike have a centralized space to create song drafts, write lyrics, upload, share files for music projects, and more. You have everything you need to hop in the studio and create a song with Apollo Music.
Funding Dollars: $25K+
What led you to launch this venture? I created an AI-generated Drake song, posted it on TikTok, it went viral, and people wanted to hear the full version. That inspired me to build a Spotify-like streaming platform, which launched and gained over 1,000 users in under 72 hours. Through raising, building and launching; we’ve adjusted our scope to focus on the creative tools needed to prepare to create a song.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with the venture? Raising capital, growing the platform to thousands of users, going viral on social media, and rebuilding and launching version 2.0 this past summer.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? At Olin (Wash U), our Entrepreneurship major helped lay the foundation for how I view the startup space and how to balance the business perspective with the creativity that naturally exists in the entrepreneurial world.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The League (of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs) w/ Doug Villhard – This class acted more like an in-house accelerator program where we ideated, built and launched tech startups over the course of a standard academic semester. During these weeks, we had intimate conversations with some of the world’s best startup founders who also happened to be Wash U alumni. Through them, I learned one of the most crucial lessons.
9 times out of 10, your startup will experience the Startup Curve: an observed timeline of the average startup life cycle that can accurately help you pinpoint when you will find PMF.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Doug Villhard – His commitment to finding the happy marriage between academia and entrepreneurship has helped his students (including me) gain a true understanding and love for entrepreneurship without being overwhelmed by the fast-paced, quickly evolving startup environment.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? One entrepreneur who has greatly inspired my own entrepreneurial journey is Jeff Bezos. His emphasis on prioritizing the customer’s needs and his leadership philosophy have been deeply motivational. He has a belief that “If you focus on the customer, everything else will follow”. This underscores the significance of customer-centricity in business success. Additionally, his candid admission that one of his biggest regrets was not attempting certain endeavors sooner serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of seizing opportunities and taking calculated risks in entrepreneurship.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Long term, Apollo aims to be a staple part of the emerging music tech scene. With advancements in AI and the new frontier that is the decentralized internet, I see Apollo being a centralized platform to create, collaborate, and distribute music creations all from one platform.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? The St. Louis startup ecosystem fosters success through funding opportunities from investors and grants, support from incubators and accelerators, and a collaborative community that offers valuable networking connections. Access to top talent from top local universities —like Wash U, and others — further bolsters startups in the region, making it a great environment to birth and grow Apollo. Additionally, St. Louis’ strategic central location and industry clusters provide access to diverse markets and connections outside the Midwest.
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