Alumni, Community

5 Questions with Vadio’s Elliot Swan

We recently shared news that PIE Alum Vadio, the platform that allows streaming music services to sync their audio with corresponding music videos, had raised $2 million.

Now we’re all aware of the fact that no company gets to $2 million without first facing a few challenges and tough decisions. So today we’ve caught up with Elliot Swan, cofounder of Vadio, and asked him to give us a glimpse into some of his experiences along the way.

1. When did you decide to jump ship and start your own company?

We had been working on Vadio part-time on the side and had a basic prototype put together that we would slowly continue to build and show around. I remember one evening suddenly coming to the realization that if I really wanted to see whether this thing would fly, I needed to take the full leap. And I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life always wondering if something could have come of this had I only taken a risk and tried.

2. What was one of the biggest challenges entering this industry?

The music industry is notoriously complicated, so getting buy-in from all the relevant stakeholders took a lot of work. I see too many music startups try to brashly jump into the middle of the industry and claim they’re here to change the world without bothering to get to know people or understand how things work. It can be tough, but patience and humility go a long way.

3. How has being in the Portland community helped your company become what it is today?

Portland has a great startup community, and everybody wants to see everybody succeed. It’s amazing being able to walk down the street to a handful of other startups and ask for input.

4. What’s a small change you’ve recently made at Vadio that’s resulted in large positive results?

Anybody over here would tell you I love A/B tests. One we recently ran tested various wording options for the buttons that launch our players — we increased click-throughs by 10% just by adding a single word!

5. PIE’s 2014 class is already one-month in to the program. Having been through PIE and now a couple years out, what’s one piece of advice would you give to its participating founders?

For the next 3 months you will be constantly surrounded by super-smart people. Get to know all of them! You have no idea how valuable they will be to you and you will be to them over the years.

6. (Bonus question:) What’s your favorite music video?

Hands-down, Dance Thief by Con Bro Chill. It deserves way more views.

I had’t heard of Con Bro Chill before this, but the moment I started watching their music video, I knew it had PDX + weird written all over it. Portland—let’s bump up these views!

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