BlueJay is an app that enables users to live stream a playlist of their favourite songs directly from their mobile device to anyone – from close friends to an audience of thousands – in a real-time and interactive environment that includes group chat. The start-up is currently fundraising on Invesdor. But how did the idea come about, and what challenges and learnings have come out of the development journey? We talked to father-and-son team Peter and Sam Shore to find out.
Peter Shore has worked in the telecom, media and tech sector for more than 30 years. His varied and successful career includes spearheading several start-ups and tech companies in Australia, and an eight-year stint as Chairman of Arqiva, the UK's owner of television and mobile phone infrastructure. He is currently also a Director of Cellnex, the largest independent owner of mobile telecom assets in Europe.
His son, Sam Shore, originates from Sydney and has been based in London for six years. Sam’s career background is equally diverse – a former professional footballer, his business background is based in finance and technology advisory.
“I always wanted the challenge of a start-up”
However, he knew that a long-term career in finance was not for him. “Finance felt a little like being on the outer rim of where the real action was,” he said. “I was always interested in the opportunity and challenge of running a smaller start-up business. I knew that it was really only a matter of time before I made a change.”
As a pair, both have been interested in the capability of new technologies to fundamentally transform businesses. “We had seen it across many industries,” said Sam, “and it was clear that the improvements in software development, moving large quantities of data around, and the ability to process huge amounts of information would provide many, many opportunities.”
It was while both were working together on a project in San Francisco that they became involved in a discussion about how most music listening today – even online – is done alone, without social engagement or the ability to share the experience in real time. “At first the idea was about crowdsourcing playlists for physical parties,” explained Sam. “But it soon morphed into an idea of crowdsourcing a playlist for a global party.”
As the pair researched the idea’s viability, what started as a simple proposition immediately brought complexity, including grey areas around licensing and the technology required to deliver the solution. But they rose to the challenge and the product evolved, resulting in a patent application for their developed technology, which turns a smartphone into an internet radio station.
“It led us eventually to design more of a radio type service where you can set up, in principle, an unlimited number of personal radio stations with an unlimited number of listeners, listening together and engaging socially with each other,” said Sam.
It took a few months to specify and design the product to optimise the customer experience and make it sensible from a commercial viewpoint. They began building the product in India, but eventually moved the development to and completed the project in Australia.
Peter explains why. “Whether you build in India, Australia, Eastern Europe or the UK, I think there’s always a trade-off between costs of development, the amount of management overhead and the complexity of communications these different options throw up,” he said.
A new dimension to online music
The result? A new dimension to online music. With BlueJay, users can live stream a playlist of their favourite songs from their mobile device to anyone – from close friends to an audience of thousands – in a real-time and interactive environment that includes group chat. The product is now live and available on the iOS and Android platforms. “No other product today allows you to run your own radio station from your pocket,” said Sam, who is also BlueJay’s CEO.
Fundraising with Invesdor
BlueJay is raising money to accelerate its growth and has many product developments in the pipeline. “For example, we’d like our users to be able to source their playlists from anywhere and not just their song files,” said Peter, “and we are working on that.”
BlueJay was introduced to Invesdor at pitching competition TechPitch 4.5, of which Invesdor is a partner. “The first few meetings were very straight forward, which is what we are like,” said Sam. “It was an easy decision to partner with Invesdor."
Currently well into its funding round (with over 70% of the target goal achieved), BlueJay has clear goals for the money in mind. “We are really focusing on two things: 1. building the user base and 2. continuing to improve the product and customer experience. That’s going to take up the vast majority of the funds,” said Sam.
In the meantime, Peter and Sam are running a lean business model where most of the key functions – such as development and marketing – are contracted to experienced companies, enabling the BlueJay team to ramp resources up and down depending on need. “Over time we will probably appoint more full time staff, but we are very happy with our current relationships,” said Sam. “The CEOs of the technical development and marketing companies have joined our Advisory Board; our Board is extremely strong for a company of our size and provides tremendous advice to the management.”
“BlueJay is exactly what we look for when partnering with a start-up for an equity crowdfunding campaign,” said Henrik Ottosson, Senior Advisor for Invesdor UK. “The team’s experience is varied and vast, their passion is palpable, and the technology is ground-breaking. They will go far.”
Find out more about BlueJay’s campaign here.
Are you a start-up who wants to fundraise with Invesdor? Get in touch.