Serendip: A sound way to make a fortune
New Israeli start-up mines Facebook and Twitter to build a personal radio station, based on your social media posts and those of your friends.
Many start-ups begin their path to riches innocent of a business plan, let alone revenues. Facebook was the most famous. An Israeli start-up called Serendip.me is hoping to be another.
Serendip scans users' social media presence, on Facebook or Twitter, and uses the information to assemble a personal radio station based around the music video clips that users and their friends post.
"Serendipity means a fortunate coincidence, or to reveal something by happenstance, and, incidentally, is one of the words that is hardest to translate from English to Hebrew," says Serendip.me cofounder Sagee Ben-Zedeff.
"In the technology world, everyone remembers clicking on some random photo they saw on Google and then somehow finding themselves at an article that made them say, 'Wow!' On Facebook, sometimes we find a single song that makes having surfed the web all day worthwhile. We want to take that rare moment of epiphany and turn it into something that happens on a constant, daily basis."
Ben-Zedeff founded Serendip together with his business partner, Asaf Atzmon. The fledgling firm has only six employees.
"Asaf and I are both huge technology buffs as well as serious music lovers," says Ben-Zedeff. "Over the past few years I worked in marketing, and really got a feel for the power of social networks when it comes to getting a message out and spreading information. I also found people worth following on Twitter just because they listen to awesome music. But all those great songs were buried along with a million other things."
From his desire to mine the Internet for those aural gems, Serendip was born. "We tried thinking of what might happen if we were able to extract the music from the mess and give it a place of its own," he says.
Serendip catalogs every tweet or status update that contains a song (whether it's from YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo or Bandcamp ) and builds a playlist based around your musical taste and that of your friends.
"We try to suggest songs based on the choices of other people whose musical taste is likely similar to yours," says Ben-Zedeff. "We are doing for music what Flipboard does for news - trying to provide you with a snapshot of what's going on right now.
"For example," he continues, "when there are street demonstrations going on outside, you'll probably hear protest songs."
Serendip was launched in August 2011 and already has thousands of users, most of whom are Israeli. Thanks to Facebook, however, it is gaining more fans internationally, and the company believes it's on the verge of seriously taking off.
Users will soon have the option of purchasing songs that they hear from an online music store, like iTunes or Amazon.com. It's also likely in the future that the company will, for a fee, offer musicians a way to distribute their music to a target audience - such as a pop artist who wants to reach Madonna fans.
Serendip is also considering expanding the service to include other media platforms. Their next frontier could be smartphones, with the company expecting to offer an iOS version of their service, like the one used on the iPhone. An Android version is also in the works.
Further down the road, the company also intends to provide its service to Wi-Fi-enabled televisions, in what it hopes could serve as a 21st-century social media version of old-school MTV.
Serendip may be small, but it requires a huge amount of computing power. It relies on Amazon's cloud-computing services to catalog and analyze the vast amount of music tossed around social media networks.
And it may not be small for long. "Up until this point, the company has received thousands of dollars from private investors," says Ben-Zedeff. "And we are about to close on another round of financing."