Frisco startup MAX drives brand engagement through the power of music

Companies are desperate to reach young audiences in creative new ways as people ditch traditional radio and television for streaming services.

At the same time, local artists are looking for a break so they can get the exposure they need in an increasingly crowded music industry. Frisco startup Music Audience Exchange, or MAX, wants to be the matchmaker to bring those two together in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Which Chicagoans are best at mentoring women?

TROY HENIKOFF

53, managing director, Math Venture Partners; lecturer on entrepreneurship and innovation, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management

"I love helping entrepreneurs," says Henikoff, founder of SurePayroll.com and co-founder of Excelerate Labs, now Techstars Chicago. "It's awesome to see them succeed." Henikoff requires chemistry in a mentoring relationship. "There needs to be something there—I am passionate about the company or person, and the company has to want to work with me," he says. Honesty is also necessary. "Some people think I'm too tough or trying to be a jerk," he says. "I'm not. I'm trying to help."

Amanda Lannert, CEO of Chicago-based Jellyvision, welcomes "unvarnished truth" from Henikoff. "He will tell you what you need to hear so you can get better," says Lannert, 44. She attributes a third of her network to Henikoff, and says he has sent employees, customers and other advisers her way. He's also helped her with venture pitches, one of which just yielded a $20 million investment in Jellyvision, which creates interactive employee-communication software. "I am a CEO because he was incredibly helpful with advice," Lannert says.

Henikoff mentors via 30-minute open-office appointments every Friday, a service he publicizes via Twitter, and through Techstars Chicago. The heaviest mentoring takes place through Math Venture Partners, where he invests time and ultimately money in startups he'd like to succeed.

Even while mentoring, Henikoff protects his network. One example is the way he handles requests for introductions. Henikoff asks for a forwardable email explaining why a mentee wants that introduction. He then forwards it to the person of interest. "I don't want people to feel obligated," Henikoff says. He sends four to five such emails a day with a success rate of 95 percent to 98 percent. "It's really amazing how this community is open to helping," he says.

Retail app maker Tulip raises $40 million from Kleiner Perkins, others

(Reuters) - Canada's Tulip Retail, which makes an app for retailers, said on Tuesday it raised $40 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Series B funding, which included existing investors such as Jump Capital, gives Kleiner Perkins' general partner, Mood Rowghani, a seat on the startup's five-member board.

Q&A with Troy Henikoff: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Q: Troy, you’ve started several successful companies. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

No! I got into entrepreneurship by mistake. Like many people, when I graduated from college I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. At the time, PCs were just becoming a legitimate business tool. I’d seen a tech company in Boston I was interested in, but there wasn’t anything like it in Chicago. A friend suggested that I should leverage my previous couple of summers of programming and start a consulting company myself.

Brunonia: Always an entrepreneur

How do you become a successful entrepreneur? Troy Henikoff, class of 1986, shares his story.

“In hindsight I was always an entrepreneur, but didn’t realize it. When I was young, I had a love of sailing, and dreamed of owning a sailboat. So I cut lawns, washed cars; delivered newspapers. By the time I was ten, a friend of mine and I bought our first sailboat with the money we made.

The 5 Worst Things You Could Say to a Venture Capitalist

As a venture capitalist, I meet every day with two or three entrepreneurs who pitch me to invest in their dreams. (Last year, we reviewed more than 2,000 new companies.) Having done this now for 20 years across three funds, I’ve heard every kind of pitch imaginable. Here are five examples of what not to say to a VC:

I have a big potential customer that is just about to close.”

Kellogg Does Its Own Bay Area Startup

Mark Achler starts his first class with a video that Apple used years ago to introduce its iPad. As the MBA students in Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management watch the TV advertisment, they hear the voice of comedian Robin Williams from a scene in the film Dead Poets Society. Not until the very end of the 90-second spot does the Apple logo appear ever so briefly on the screen.

MAX Helps Musician and Brand Partnerships Go to 11

As digital continues to fragment audiences, artists and brands are looking to innovative platforms to deliver better targeted content that delivers on consumer satisfaction and business ROI.

With that in mind, the music marketing tech startup Music Audience Exchange has announced a $6 million funding round led by MATH Venture Partners and KDWC Ventures, along with G-Bar Ventures and Gregg Latterman, Founder and CEO of Aware Records.

Its goal is simple: to match brands with artists and music fans, and help musicians get paid.

Music matchmaker: Plano startup that connects brands and bands raises $6 million

A Plano startup that matches up big brands with musicians for ad campaigns has raised $6 million in a round led by two Chicago-based venture firms.

Music Audience Exchange, or MAX for short, uses a database of more than 2.4 million artists, 765 music genres and 200 consumer attributes, from political affiliation to hobbies to alcohol preference, to find the ideal match. The brands work with an artist who's featured in music-driven ads on Pandora, YouTube, Facebook and other streaming sites or social media apps.

Why It’s Okay to Tell Your Investors That You Don’t Have a Clue

Of all of the misconceptions about startup life, I think the most profound—and ultimately damaging—is the myth of the savior leader: the magical CEO who creates the perfect product/service and business model that erupts into a runaway success. The cold, hard truth is that it takes both time and much iteration before most entrepreneurs get it right.

Jiobit raises $3 million to make a new kid-tracking wearable

Jiobit, the Chicago-based maker of a small wearable device that helps parents keep track of their children, has raised $3 million, the company announced Thursday.

Its first product, which the company describes as a "smart tag for kids", will be available for pre-order later this year and will start shippping this fall, said CEO and co-founder John Renaldi. The funding will go toward production and monitoring of the wearable device, the company said.

Why Your Boss Is Still a White Guy

We’re not even talking about the right causes of the diversity problem in tech yet.

For the second year now, VC firm First Round Capital has released a fantastic “State of Startups” annual report. First Round surveyed over 700 founders and CEOs of technology startups to get their impressions on the current landscape of the startup world. The survey covers things like whether or not we’re in a bubble, how the IPO market is looking, and--yes--diversity in the tech world.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, you should definitely check out the report. It’s a relatively quick read and will give you a good fix for how folks are feeling about the environment we’re in today. But I want to dig into one particular topic that is near and dear to my heart: the fact that only 3% of venture funding goes to women and a measly 1% goes to people of color.

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