Divided by Distance, United by Passion

Light the Music is a startup living almost exclusively in the digital domain

One aspect of being a full-time-on-the-road musician for a decade was the long standing romance with a multitude of cities, towns, and beautiful places. Fueled by a passion for playing music, we lads in the band “everything” traveled to hundreds of amazing places, leaving me with a sense of having dozens of potential “homes” in the world. When someone asks me where I would love to live, out pops a list that seems to get longer each time I try to answer.

For the past 18 months, our team has built Light the Music from separate cities; Steve is in Richmond, VA, Dylan just moved to St. Augustine, and I’m on the scenic Outer Banks of NC. Admittedly, I have pined over creative hubs like Denver, Austin, NYC, San Francisco, Boulder, London, Asheville, LA… (another lengthening list, I know), because “happy collisions” occur in places that celebrate startup ingenuity and attract more movers, shakers, and makers. Our ‘base’ of Richmond certainly has that. For instance we’re psyched to return to the RVA MakerFest in four weeks! The question remains though–how effective is a company ‘distributed’ in the digital domain vs one centered in a geographical location?

The answer for us lies in finding the right people, wherever they are. We recently added two new developers, so we’ve been ROCKING on the project with Boris from Frankfurt, Germany, and Dr. Aure Prochazka in Marin County, California. More on Boris next week, but Aure is the man behind AudioKit, which is an amazing set of digital audio tools for iOS developers that was born out of his passion for music and sound. When we started with him in August, he was embarking on a lifelong dream–the grueling Leadville 100 bike race in Colorado. “Hooch”, the hit song Steve and I had with the band “everything” was very Colorado inspired, so we like the connection, but more importantly we love the passion that Aure has for living the life he wants.

The team we have put together is divided by many miles, but it is united by this passion. Our team’s desire to build an amazing visual music app is ignited by our love of a creative, connected, adventurous lifestyle. This esprit de corps creates the opportunity to do something truly ambitious–to build a cutting edge company that makes great products, while existing in a multitude of inspiring locations.

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On a Practical Note: Being fully distributed as a team has some pitfalls that need extra attention, so there are a few things we are focusing on to help build the right culture:

  • Regular face to face video calls: seeing faces and spending time is crucial
  • Dedicated Channels to Fun Stuff: we have a Slack channel for random awesomeness
  • Process, Process, Process: creating simple, intuitive and thorough processes that everyone can use to keep track of who is doing what
  • Ask a lot of Questions: overlooked, but the simple act of asking questions allows for the esprit de corps to grow.

Craig, COO and Passionista