These College Students Created an App for Party Playlists
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- Music Curated by Everyone, Everywhere (MCEE) was officially launched March 28.
- The app addresses the issue of a single-person-controlled aux cord at college parties. Now, the entire party can contribute to the song list and even vote for their favorites.
- The co-founders hope that other college entrepreneurs take the leap of faith to start their own businesses.
Jack Russell was constantly finding himself in the position that no college student at the party wants: the aux.
"I had this issue where I couldn't enjoy myself at events because I felt like I was constantly being berated with song requests ranging from the most obscure artist to mainstream … It was just so stressful," Russell told BestColleges.
So the Boston College senior got his friends together and came up with a solution: Music Curated by Everyone, Everywhere (MCEE), a fresh music crowdsourcing app that promises to keep the party's soundtrack democratic.
MCEE officially launched at the end of March, just in time for the final weeks of the spring semester.
BestColleges caught up with Russell, a finance and information systems major; Rhett Somers, a finance and entrepreneurship major; and Gianna Jarmain, a computer science major, to learn more about the app and how these Boston College students became app entrepreneurs.
Here's How MCEE Works
MCEE's revelation is that creating a party's music should be a democratic, not autocratic process.
So, with MCEE, the party starts with a host creating a party playlist with an access code provided to invitees, Jarmain explained to BestColleges.
Once they're in the digital doors, party people with Spotify Premium accounts can add to the queue of music by suggesting songs and also voting on others' picks, she said. Partygoers who don't have Spotify can still use the app to vote on songs for the party's playlist.
The songs with the highest number of votes automatically play next.
MCEE launched on March 28 in the Apple App Store and, in less than 24 hours, hit its one-week download goal, Russell said. Now, the app hopes to release new features soon, including better access for Apple Music users.
"It's blown any of the expectations we've had so far," Russell said. "The app could not sustain the amount of people trying to download and use it at one party, so we ran into some glitches within the app due to overwhelming demand that night."
Since then, the team has updated the app. And now, students at Boston College have been using MCEE at non-marketed events like formals, pre-games, and club-sponsored parties. The founders shared that the app is even starting to spread organically on other college campuses.
For now, MCEE is still focused on finding the right product market fit in the music industry on Boston College's campus, Russell explained. Eventually, the team hopes to expand the app to every college campus across the country, and maybe even to establishments like bars and restaurants.
Currently, MCEE has an ambassador program at Boston College for students in all grade levels to promote the app on campus. Russell suggested that the ambassador program could extend to other college campuses in the future.
"Everyone should be able to contribute to the party … MCEE allows more inclusivity within an event, and we want everyone to contribute their music taste," Russell said.
Collaboration, Boston College Support Key in Creation of MCEE
MCEE went from idea to startup when Russell shared his idea with Somers, who was engrossed in an entrepreneurial management class.
With encouragement from Somers' professor in the class, the co-founders decided to pursue the Accelerate@Shea program at the college's Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a nine-week crash course providing student startups with resources, funding, and advice.
Acclerate@Shea provided one key realization to Russell and Somers: They didn't know how to code the app.
Enter Jarmain, who was originally recruited to help find a computer science major to code MCEE.
Eventually, the three decided that even though Jarmain was not fluent in Swift, the coding language for iOS, she would join the team as a co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) and learn the language herself instead of outsourcing another coder to create the product.
At the time, Somers, Russell, and Jarmain had an important decision to make. They were juniors about to enter an important summer for career development, but they also understood the potential MCEE had.
"Junior year is a pretty important summer in terms of finding a good internship that leads into a post-grad opportunity. For us, we knew that we wanted to keep pursuing MCEE that summer. We felt like there was no better time than now to start a company. We [were] so early in our careers, so something like this [wasn't] detrimental at [that] time," said Russell.
The crew also reached out to a group of Boston College alumni, Soaring Startup Capital (SSC) Venture Partners, who solely invest in Boston College-related startups from current students and alumni. They were accepted into SSC's accelerator program during the summer to continue fleshing out the idea while Jarmain learned how to code the app full time.
"We were all fully bought in after that. We knew that from there we got a lot more confidence in the idea seeing that other people were really interested in it [and] gave us the validation we needed to continue running with it post-summer and into this year," Somers said.
The three said that feedback from other students and their mentors has been key to their success. Somers pointed to "the rule of threes," which the team uses to evaluate positive and negative pieces of feedback about MCEE.
"If you hear the same thing from three different people, then you know it is something you should focus on, something you should run with," said Somers.
"On the flip side, if we hear negative comments, we take the first one with a grain of salt. But if it gets to that three margin, then we know we need to take a closer look and address it more efficiently."
Starting a Business in College
Even though adding CEO, COO, or CTO of a company to your resume as a college student isn't too shabby, the MCEE team agreed that starting a company on top of dealing with schoolwork and the internship or job search is not an easy feat.
But the three of them also agreed that starting MCEE while in college has been worth it and that other college students interested in starting their own business should try their hand at it.
"My biggest advice would be just to go for it and push through. Everything is going to work out in the end. I hit multiple points where I was super low in motivation. But there will be so many people around you supporting you, and the payoffs will be immense and so worth the difficulties," said Jarmain.
From learning an entirely new coding language to enhancing social skills with investors and customers, Russell, Somers, and Jarmain said their experience creating MCEE has been invaluable.
"I don't think there's anything cooler than creating something from nothing," said Russell.
"It's so rewarding, especially in the past couple of weeks since we launched. If I could give my two cents to a college student, it would be that there is no better time to do this than right now. You will learn so much from this experience."