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Zane Barbao, Management and Entrepreneurship student at Auburn University Herbert College of Commerce, spent his high school years feeling like school and the job he was doing were meaningless. Barbao felt he had no outlet to apply.
One place he found solace, however, was in music. Much of her childhood was spent singing with her parents in the car and learning to play the guitar. As his love for music continued to grow, he says he developed a special appreciation for songs with multiple artists on a single track.
Knowing that Barbao made the decision to go to college only in the summer after graduating from high school, he began to find meaning in his classroom work and realized that creating a business was his vocation. This revelation came during an entrepreneurship class in his first year, where he was challenged to imagine and generate the concept of a new business in a class project. An idea which, in Barbao’s case, has since turned into a company of which he is the founder and CEO.
Barbao took this as the perfect opportunity to bring his love for music to his newfound passion for business. The assignment was to come up with a new business idea, formulate a business plan and get feedback from the class. As he began to reflect, he noted the fact that the most successful songs in the R&B and HipHop genre are when two or more artists collaborate and feature on their songs.
But he also identified an unmet need.
“Starring is so desired, but the collaboration process is expensive, difficult and risky, especially for amateur artists,” he said.
From there was born the idea of Feature Finder, a social music platform that makes the process of featuring more accessible, entertaining and competitive. With the creation of an app, artists could upload their completed tracks with a 30-60 second gap in the voice for other members of the app to record a verse and submit their voice as an “attempt”.
All other users of the platform, artists and non-artists, could then vote on their favorite attempts, with the original artist then being allowed to select one of the top three to use as the featured verse on their song.
Once the assignment was completed, Barbao continued to formulate his idea realizing that the concept of an app that could potentially revolutionize the presentation process was not something that should remain an idea for a class assignment. It was an idea that could turn into something incredible.
“I became so obsessed with what Feature Finder might become that I emailed everyone I could think of and texted all my friends asking for someone with a background in software. of that, I literally went door to door asking people in the IT building on campus if they could build me a prototype,” Barbao said.
After his initial search, however, he was still unable to find anyone with the technical skills to bring his idea to life.
Asked about his fears following his initial failure to find support for software development and his understanding of the statistical odds that most startups face, Barbao said, “The idea of not taking a risk seemed a lot scarier. .
This dynamism and passion that Barbao has for his business led him to find Harbert College New business accelerator, a space where students, faculty and recent graduates can cultivate and develop their entrepreneurial research, skills and techniques – a place where new ideas can be tested, evaluated and potentially transformed into successful businesses. Within days Zane was connected to a software developer who was able to prototype his app and within weeks he also had his own office in the New Venture Accelerator.
From there, Feature Finder went from concept to reality. Today, Barbao runs his business from offices provided for student entrepreneurs and is surrounded by like-minded people who share the same passion for their businesses as he does for his. He also has daily access to Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who have extensive experience in building businesses, whom he can turn to for advice and support.
Barbao assembled a team of software developers, industry specialists, and data and financial analysts who were able to bring his idea to life, and as of April 14, Feature Finder is now available for download on the Apple App Store.
He has also pitched his business ideas to professional industry judges and so far has competed and placed in the top five for the Harbert College of Business Halloween Pitch competition and tied for third place. of the 2022 Tiger Cage Pitch contest. He went home with $7,500 to fund and further grow his business.
Barbao’s journey began with his contemplation of not going to college at all, of participating in a class project that led him to the exciting concept of creating something entirely his own. In the span of two college semesters, Barbao managed to grow an idea that started as a class project into a fully functional technology company. His ambition and passion for business is truly inspiring and his story is just one of many in the New Venture Accelerator.
More information on cultivating a business idea or growing an existing business is available by contacting Lou Bifano at New Venture Accelerator.
(Written by Lia Junghans)