We continue our series of interviews with CEOs, founders and team members of successful crypto projects, asking them about their professional and personal secrets. For our second instalment of the series we spoke to Musards CEO and founder Ivan Shergill about facing prejudice and if failing to tap into the mainstream market will ruin your project.
Location: India Age: 16 Facts: Youngest entrepreneur in the world to receive seed funding at 13. Founder of more than 20 startups. CEO at 16.
Interviewer: Hey, Ivan! In your own words, tell us about Musards.
Ivan Shergill: Musards is an online audio entertainment platform built on top of blockchain technology to produce a decentralised music industry where artists receive maximum revenues and users get rewarded for their engagement on the platform.
I: What pushed you to create Musards?
IS: The lack of alternative solutions and advertising centric behaviour of current platforms is what inspired me to create Musards. Musards was initially a platform where you could download songs for free, legally and we were the first in the industry to utilise hybrid reward based mechanisms to provide better revenues to artists and allow users to download and stream songs for free.
I: Apart from investors, who would be interested in your ICO?
IS: Our primary focus has always been our platform and we believe that the crowdsale is just a mechanism for achieving that. That is not our only objective.
This is why apart from investors, many individuals and companies are interested in our project including artists, digital media ventures, copyright management corporations, content creators, record labels and, most importantly, other blockchain projects. We’re targeting a broad audience and developing our own niche to become the best at what we’re doing.
“Most of the projects in this space are primarily focused on the crypto niche and fail to identify the need to target a wider audience.”
I: How is Musards different from its competitors? I have personally heard about a few ICOs where artists can share music.
IS: We don’t think of other blockchain music ventures as competitors, we are all trying to achieve the same goal. But there are some differences between us and other projects. Firstly, most of the other projects are restricted to songs, whereas we’ve partnered and added podcasts and audiobooks. Secondly, though we support independent artists, we’ve also partnered with record labels to offer all the latest releases.
Musards [edit. note: eponymous token used on the platform] are not spent but earned by users when they stream a song, watch a partner video advertisement or download a partner app. We also have an exclusive Musards radio station on the app that will allow users to participate directly by choosing the next song.
We employ a product first approach in contrast to other projects. Our revenue streams are completely different and more sustainable than other ventures’.
I: How will you grow Musards’ presence in the market?
IS: Since I’ve been in the blockchain space for a long time, I’ve observed many great projects fail to tap into the mainstream market. Most of the projects in this space are primarily focused on the crypto niche and fail to identify the need to target a wider audience.
Our team is composed of experts with decades of experience in the music/entertainment industry and the blockchain space. Some of our team members are themselves artists and realise the significance of a platform like Musards.
Our foremost objective has always been tapping into the $7bil+ audio entertainment industry and introducing your average Joe to the blockchain technology. Our efforts don’t go unnoticed – we’ve recently sponsored a concert in Lombardy, Italy.
I: How does your team work? Do you use any specific techniques?
IS: One of the unique aspects of our team is complete collaboration. Our members represent many different niches and have many titles at Musards, simply because collaboration is what makes it all come together.
Everyone works on what they’re best at to produce something huge. I rarely hand out full tasks to a single person, I try to divide them into multiple components. This helps increase efficiency and productivity.
Another important element that helps the team succeed is casual networking. We have a common team group where everyone can share their strategies, recent events in their life, some music that they like, just to name a few things that are shared in our group.
“Everyone works on what they’re best at to produce something huge. I rarely hand out full tasks to a single person…”
I: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as a company?
IS: One of the biggest challenges that we’ve faced is that when many people and ventures come to know that we’re utilising blockchain technology or are linked to cryptocurrencies, their behaviour becomes slightly hostile and disinterested.
We believe this is because of the ignorance about Bitcoin and blockchain tech as a whole. Which is why it’s one of our primary goals – familiarising people with blockchain tech and how it’s the future for so many industries.
Another problem we’ve faced is ageism: most of the team members, including myself, are relatively young, leading many people to negatively judge or express disinterest in Musards just for this reason. I was once denied entry to a blockchain conference in New Delhi because of my age, but that’s a story for another time.
I: How was it starting a cryptocurrency and trying to take your company global?
IS: We’ve always focused on becoming global and not remaining just a crypto novelty. We believe that our token sale should just be a part of our project, not our primary focus. Our primary aim will always be becoming a mainstream platform and connecting everyone to blockchain tech.
Our advisory board and team consists of the best of the best from the blockchain and music/entertainment industry. We have 35+ outreach partners all across the world (East Coast, West Coast, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom etc.), who help us reach out to regional artists and content creators.
I: What’s next for Musards? What’s in the nearest future?
IS: The next, and the most important step for us at Musards will be launching our platform on the main net after the conclusion of the token sale. In the immediate future, you can expect new partnerships, development updates and onboarding of many artists and content creators to our beta platform. We’re also working to unite other blockchain ventures working in the digital media sector, and have many more industry leaders joining our advisory board.
“Another problem we’ve faced is ageism… I was once denied entry to a blockchain conference in New Delhi because of my age.”
I: Where would you ideally like to see yourself in 5 years?
IS: If everything goes according to our timelines, roadmaps and we hit all goals, I would ideally like to see Musards as one of the most popular audio streaming platforms and the first industry leader to utilise blockchain in the real world.
But life is unpredictable. I believe that whatever happens, we’re headed in the right direction.
Expansion is important, but even more important is identifying change and recognising the need to change. I believe that in 5 years we might evolve into something greater than us, greater than what we can imagine and, truly, that’s what we’re aiming for.
You know, Craigslist started as an email list, Twitter was just a side project and Twitch was just a livestream of the founder and was initially called Justin.tv. We cannot predict the future but what we can predict is that Musards will find its own niche, and will be the best at what it does.
I: If you had to give one piece of advice to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
IS: I have a few.
- Put in the hours – People always tell me that they have a killer idea and they want to pursue it, but cannot take out time to work on it because of their day job, student assignments and a million other excuses. The reality is that if you believe in your idea and believe in yourself, you’ll make the time. Two of my favorite quotes are by Gary Vaynerchuk and they are “All you have is time” and “You’re gonna die”, and these are the universal truths. Don’t do something you hate, but even worse – don’t do something you don’t believe in. Nothing great comes quickly and you have to keep working towards your dream to make it true.
- Grass is always greener on the other side – The first part of any project is the most enjoyable. You’re bursting with creative ideas, meeting passionate people who believe in your project, but then comes the part where you have your first burnout. You might start hating the project you were so passionate about. You might start working on a new idea, and again – this vicious cycle will continue. This is the sole reason most people don’t succeed. Give the project your complete focus and build it to a point where it’s self sustainable to start perfecting it.
- Ignore the trolls, but acknowledge constructive criticism – You will encounter many people who won’t believe in your idea, but generally there are two types. You should learn to value the opinion of those who are genuinely interested and ignore those who just don’t want your project to succeed. Trust me, the difference will be obvious.
I: Is there something you believe your team can do better than anyone else? What is your strength?
IS: I believe that our team is the best at collaborating. All of our team members work together, we divide our goals into small tasks to increase team efficiency.
Another thing is the warmth that you will notice within our group. New members feel at home when they join the team and that’s what sets us apart.
“Ignore the trolls, but acknowledge constructive criticism.”
I: What is the skill you wish you or your team could perfect?
IS: I personally feel that my strength is thinking outside the box and finding creative solutions to time-sensitive problems. Another thing I feel I’m good at is persistence. Both of these combined means I try to find new avenues. If I believe it’s the right way to go, I’ll keep trying until I find what’s best for our project, what helps us in the grand scheme of things.
If I could perfect a skill, it would be focusing on one task at a time. Usually, I’m so overwhelmed with work that I have multiple primary tasks at hand. I would be more efficient if I could focus on a single task instead of juggling multiple tasks at once.
I: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever been given?
IS: A friend of mine told me that the best advice I gave him was “Do what you love cause you’re gonna die“. That should be our motto, cause life is unpredictable and if you’re doing something you hate – you’re wasting it. You might not succeed doing what you love, but you won’t live miserably. The worst advice would have to be investing in Doge. Just kidding, 1 Doge = 1 Doge, much love.
I: Do you believe failure can make or break a person?
IS: I believe that failure should not be something that defines the end. All of us are evolving and no one can improve without failing sometimes. We all make mistakes and that can be a positive thing, if we learn from it.
“All of us are evolving and no one can improve without failing sometimes.”
I: How do you know when you’ve succeeded?
IS: A person is successful if they’re doing what they love and positively affecting the life of others at the same time. You’re successful if you have people who genuinely care about you. But also, the benchmark for success is when instead of you people talk about your accomplishments. Waking up knowing you’re changing lives, that’s success.
I: Do you have any weird or extraordinary habits? Any guilty pleasures?
IS: Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a new idea and just start working on it. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 3 a.m., get super pumped about something and start working on it while my brain keeps shooting hundreds of ideas.
I: What’s the best decision you’ve made in the last 10 years?
IS: The best decision would have to be working on my first startup at 12. It completely changed my life, who knows where I’d be if I had not followed my inner passion.
I: What are the top 5 books you would say have influenced your life or your work ethic the most?
“A person is successful if they’re doing what they love and positively affecting the life of others at the same time.”
I: What would you say is or has been your worst time-waster both at home and at work?
IS: My worst time-waster has to be my curiosity. When I come across a new and intriguing thing, I start researching, and an hour later I find myself in a wormhole, studying everything there is to know about the field. I find everything interesting, that decreases my work efficiency.
I: Do you watch TV? If yes, what is your favorite TV show/movie?
IS: My favorite TV shows have to be Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty. My favorite movies are The Dark Knight Rises, The Godfather trilogy, The Wolf of Wall Street, No Pain No Gain, The Fast and Furious series (especially Tokyo Drift), The Social Network, Jobs, and The Hangover. I also watch a lot of YouTube, my favorite channels are Achievement Hunter and the RoosterTeeth franchise.
I: How do you wind down after a stressful day? How does one achieve that perfect work-life balance?
IS: I myself have not been able to perfect the work-life balance, so I don’t think I can answer that question. I usually wind down by watching a movie or playing some video games.
About: Musards is known for their platform where users get paid for listening to music. They’ve also been challenging the music industry by supporting independent artists and giving 100% of the revenue to the content creators.
Beta platform: https://app.musards.org
Telegram group: https://t.me/musardsgroup