Parker Wells is the founder of Overhead.fm, a streaming background music service founded at Brown University.
Wells, who graduated from Brown in May with a degree in mechanical engineering, talked to Providence Business News about his triumph at the R.I. Business Plan Competition and his experience launching a technology startup.
PBN: Can you tell us a little bit about Overhead.fm and how it works?
WELLS:Overhead.fm is a streaming background music service. We have created an online music service like Pandora or Spotify, but our music is licensed to be played in public spaces like coffee shops, restaurants, doctors offices. This means that any storeowner can subscribe to our service and play music over any computer, tablet or smartphone. We have organized music into business-friendly commercial-free playlists, so you can quickly gain access to the right sound for your store without having to worry about the complicated world of music licensing.
PBN: Since winning the student track of the R.I. Biz Plan Competition, you moved on to StartEngine, an Los Angeles-based startup accelerator, how has that been going for you?
WELLS:Getting our start with the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition was an unbelievable boost for Overhead.fm. It gave us the ability to focus on building a company full-time and gave our business model the initial validation it needed to get into a selective accelerator program like StartEngine. The program itself has been invaluable in making connections in the music industry and meeting California tech investors. Thanks to a lot of support from the RIBPC and StartEngine we have built our music service, signed licensing agreements for musical performance rights, and have started acquiring customers. Moving from concept to sales in three months has already been an amazing experience and we are picking up momentum.
PBN: Do you plan to come back to Providence or are you staying on the west coast?
WELLS:We are definitely excited about moving back to Providence. The startup culture in Rhode Island is currently going through a renaissance. One of the country’s best and most established accelerators, Betaspring, continues to attract some of the best startups from around the country to our little state. Brown University, our alma mater, is also transforming its entrepreneurship program. The new Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations concentration is focused on new ventures, giving technology startups even more support than we have already had. We have made some great connections on the west coast and will continue participate fully in their startup-focused culture during our early funding stages. Providence provides the community that young founders truly benefit from.
PBN: What has been your favorite part of your tech startup experience?
WELLS:This is a tricky question. The best part of being a young entrepreneur is being able to meet and learn from remarkable people. While building this company I been given the opportunity to meet many founders and executives from the most influential tech, music, and entertainment companies. I have also been able to work alongside inspiring entrepreneurs and watch them navigate the many hurdles we all face. There are so many great entrepreneurs and executives out there who are also just really nice people and are willing to sit down and share their experiences.
PBN: What advice do you have for other college students or young people looking to form their own technology startup?
WELLS:I recommend going for it. This is a great time to start a technology startup. As far as advice goes, I would say that the most important thing is the team you work with. If your team is dedicated, skilled, and works well together, you can overcome a lot of challenges.