Practical Founders Podcast

#13: Founder with 2 exits shares how he achieved product-market fit twice – Seth Radman of Crescendo and Upbeat

Seth Radman created, grew, and sold two music app startups in his twenties. A saxophone player in his college marching band, Seth was passionate about helping musicians and school band directors to improve how they learn music using technology.

Seth was the founder and CEO of Crescendo, an interactive music trainer that provides real-time performance assessment feedback using acoustic pitch detection and machine learning as a mobile app. With a little angel funding, Crescendo grew to over 1M users and 7,000 schools before being acquired by Ultimate Guitar in 2018.

He was also co-founder and CEO of Upbeat, a bootstrapped startup providing a virtual music collaboration platform for school music departments. When schools shut down during COVID, Upbeat allowed musicians to rehearse and perform music virtually with others in real-time without sound delays. Upbeat grew to over  200,000 users in 12 months and was purchased by 5,000 schools before being acquired in 2021 by MakeMusic.

“Having a company acquired seemed like this big elusive goal that every founder wants to achieve. And then I did it. And then I wasn’t sure what to do next at all, I was completely shocked on the first day,” Seth says. 

“I say it was one of the happiest days of my life when I saw the money hit the bank. And then the day after, that was probably one of the most depressing days of my life, because I was like, whoa, what do I do now? And so I definitely thought there was a loss of identity for me going through that.

“And I spent the next several months, kind of doing nothing. I was honestly just depressed. I just felt super lost and was not sure what to do. And that was a really tough period. “

In this episode, Seth explains:

  • How he had hundreds of product ideas, did hundreds of customer interviews, and ran dozens of experiments to eventually find problems that customers would actually pay to solve
  • What product-market fit really means to him and why it’s so important to experiment before you invest lots of time and money
  • Why he felt that he wasn’t the right person to scale up his first company and the deep anxiety he felt when he successfully sold it
  • How he’s managing the emotional ups and downs of being an entrepreneur now after experiencing mental health challenges
  • What product-market fit really is for founders and what it feels like when you have it
  • How he developed a strong persistence habit as a musician that helped him do hard things every day that he didn’t want to do

Crescendo Company Facts

  • Founded: 2016
  • Practical Funding Type: $500K investment from angel investors
  • Number of Employees: 35 employees
  • Acquisition: Acquired by Ultimate Guitar in 2020
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Upbeat Music Company Facts

  • Founded: 2020
  • Practical Funding Type: bootstrapped with self-funding and revenues
  • Number of Employees: 4 employees
  • Acquisition: Acquired by MakeMusic in 2021
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Links

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Greg Head recorded this on episode on September 16, 2022 for the Practical Founders Podcast see all of the episodes.

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