If you had your dream job lined up months before college graduation, do you think it would be tempting to let senioritis set in? For most people, the answer would be yes but not for Max Fergus and the Live Undiscovered Music (LÜM) team. As Max was nearing completion of his BBA degree in finance, investment, and banking, he was offered his dream job: to assist in developing a healthcare practice with a prominent global investment bank. Fast forward to today and it does not seem possible that not only did Max and the LÜM team forego their coveted job offers, but they have amassed unbelieve success. To understand what transpired, it is important to start at the beginning.
Max and the other co-founders of LÜM began meeting during their senior year in a think-tank environment to discuss industries that had a lot of room to grow but had antiquated business models. Even though the team was industry agnostic, “streaming was growing rapidly and music is what our team was really passionate about.” Hence, their journey began to change the way the music industry operated. Even though the team had little experience in the music industry, they spent four months conducting research to learn the ins and outs of the industry. What they found is that existing platforms pushed commercial artists that required high royalties and ignored emerging, undiscovered artists. As their idea progressed, the team realized they were on to something substantial. “You start a business to solve a financial problem, but we realized that we were fixing a human problem.”
In February of 2018, most LÜM team members planned on starting their newly offered jobs after graduation but as their idea picked up steam, they began to have second thoughts. Armed with a 42-page business plan, the team decided to see if they would be able to raise funds for LÜM. In setting a goal to raise $250,000, the team was extremely encouraged when the first round raised $500,000. This was just the first of many wins the team experienced during 2018. Other firsts included LÜM being invited to the Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2019 as well as Max, LÜM’s CEO, being named to Wisconsin Inno’s 25 Under 25. LÜM also entered and won the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Pressure Chamber pitch contest and was accepted into the gBETA early-stage accelerator program.
During this time, LÜM experienced an increase in listeners since launching in August 2018, acquiring over 1,000 users on its first day of launch. In a world where corporate sponsored applications can trounce homegrown entrepreneurs, LÜM has amassed a growing popularity. At universities across the country, student ambassadors are advocating for the growth of emerging artists. These music lovers have been instrumental in promoting LÜM on their campuses as the best method to support local, undiscovered artists.
As the team prepares to further expand LÜM across the country, Max recounts one huge factor in the company’s success. After they determined to forego their job offers and focus on LÜM full-time, they wondered where the best place to grow their idea would be. Los Angeles, Nashville, and Austin would have all been the most obvious music cities to consider. “In the end, the best decision was to stay right here in Madison” says Max. They have their office in American Family Insurance’s Spark building, a nucleus of entrepreneurs from Wisconsin. Max also highlights Madison’s plethora of venture capital firms and points to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship as incredible resources the team was able to access. Launching a venture this ambitious required advisors, mentors and well-meaning challengers. Everybody that has encountered Max and the LÜM team are excited for what lies ahead. Stay tuned!