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Hack To Start
Episode 134

Mike Schmidt

Building @Dovetale w/ @Expa previously built music products @Beatport & @ListnApp

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Mike Schmidt is the co-founder of Dovetale. Mike grew up outside Toronto, Canada and later attended Queen’s University, studying Chemical Engineering. While at Queen’s, he quickly developed an affinity for tech startups and was accepted into the Next 36 (an exclusive program in which he’s still involved to this day). After graduating from both programs, Mike launched Listn from a dorm room at the university. As the CEO, Mike helped raise money, create the vision for the product, sign major partnerships, and helped the company get acquired by SFX Entertainment. Following the acquisition, Mike’s career in tech continued to flourish. He lead mobile and many other product initiatives at SFX Entertainment as part of a product called BeatPort. After a few year there, a mentor introduced him to another startup called We Heart It in San Francisco where Mike was the Head of Growth, Product, and Engineering. Under Mike’s guidance, the app grew by 5M users and reached as high as the #12 spot overall on the App Store in less than 12 months. Throughout his career, influencer marketing was a common area of interest and fruitful tactic that Mike came back to time and time again. But it was often complicated to execute, expensive, and unpredictable. Today, Mike is the co-founder of Dovetale, a startup that’s looking to change exactly that. Dovetale is backed by Expa, a startup studio created by ex-founders of companies like Uber, Foursquare, and more. Mike joins us to share his story, how he turn a chemical engineering degree into a passion for tech startups from a dorm room at Queen’s University, what motivated him to launch Listn, what it was like being part of the Next36, what it was like raising funding, how Listn was acquired, how he’s trying to change the way influencer marketing happens for everyone, what it’s like being part of Expa, and much more!

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about how Mike got into startups
  • Learn more about what it was like getting into The Next 36
  • Learn more about what it was like building & growing Listn
  • Learn more about what motivated Mike to launch Dovetale
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Mike Schmidt is the co-founder of Dovetale.

Mike grew up outside Toronto, Canada and later attended Queen’s University, studying Chemical Engineering. While at Queen’s, he quickly developed an affinity for tech startups and was accepted into the Next 36 (an exclusive program in which he’s still involved to this day).

After graduating from both programs, Mike launched Listn from a dorm room at the university. As the CEO, Mike helped raise money, create the vision for the product, sign major partnerships, and helped the company get acquired by SFX Entertainment.

Following the acquisition, Mike’s career in tech continued to flourish. He lead mobile and many other product initiatives at SFX Entertainment as part of a product called BeatPort.

After a few year there, a mentor introduced him to another startup called We Heart It in San Francisco where Mike was the Head of Growth, Product, and Engineering. Under Mike’s guidance, the app grew by 5M users and reached as high as the #12 spot overall on the App Store in less than 12 months.

Throughout his career, influencer marketing was a common area of interest and fruitful tactic that Mike came back to time and time again. But it was often complicated to execute, expensive, and unpredictable.

Today, Mike is the co-founder of Dovetale, a startup that’s looking to change exactly that. Dovetale is backed by Expa, a startup studio created by ex-founders of companies like Uber, Foursquare, and more.

Mike joins us to share his story, how he turn a chemical engineering degree into a passion for tech startups from a dorm room at Queen’s University, what motivated him to launch Listn, what it was like being part of the Next36, what it was like raising funding, how Listn was acquired, how he’s trying to change the way influencer marketing happens for everyone, what it’s like being part of Expa, and much more!


Some Of The Questions We Ask

2:40
Where are you from and what did you study?

3:17
While in school, you were also part of The Next 36. Can you tell us more about that program and what it was like for you?

5:35
So where did that passion for entrepreneurship come from for you?

7:12
So after graduating, you founded a startup called Listn in 2012. Can you tell us more about this startup and what motivated you to launch it?

10:28
So continuing on the thread of figuring out how to build this startup, you managed to raise $500,000 in funding from a combination of angels and VCs like: Real Ventures, BDC, Mark Suster and more. What was that experience like for you?

13:44
So Listn grew to over 400,000 users with some big partnerships with brands like Soundcloud and YouTube. How did you approach BD and growth at that time? What were some of the most effective channels?

16:45
Listn was then acquired by SFX Entertainment and became part of of a product called Beatport. What was the acquisition process like for you?

18:50
So speaking about jumping right back in, you were then hired as the Head of Growth, Product and engineering at We Heart It. So can you tell us more about this product and how you created the opportunity to work there?

21:32
We Heart It grew by 5 million users while you were there, and reached as high as the #12 spot - overall - in the App Store. How did you approach growth for a product that was rooted in a community you didn’t necessarily identify with and what were some of the most effective channels for you?

23:54
You’ve obviously done a ton of work on mobile products over the course of your career. So what are some of the most important insights about that role that you’d share with other PMs or new PMs?

26:10
So we’ve alluded to the importance of influencers and the fact that it’s a focus for you now as the Founder of Dovetale. So can you tell us more about Dovetale and what motivated you to start it?

28:30
Why do you think that influencer marketing is such an important growth driver / channel for startups and companies of all sizes and what have been the biggest mistakes you’ve seen other marketers make that Dovetale is trying to solve?

33:36
Dovetale is also backed by Expa - can you share more about what Expa is and any insights you’d have to share with other entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funding?

36:46
I know you guys are mid-way through your launch, but what does 2017 hold for Dovetale?

38:40
What are some of the most recent apps that you’ve downloaded or used?

40:31
So do you have any recommendations on some great content that you’ve come across lately?

41:55
So to not take up too much more of your time, do you have any last thoughts or personal mottos that you live by that you think others should know about?


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Mike Schmidt on Twitter
Dovetale on Twitter
Dovetale on the web
Expa on Twitter
Expa on the web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

Devices, Apps, and Books

Ando
Current
Matt Mazzeo
Powerhouse CAA
Capital
Planet Money

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