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The Coolest Apps Started by Our Fellow Bostonians: EchoMe

August 31, 2017

Small Business

Mobile

Site Launch

Fun

Boston Innovative Apps


In the second installment of our “Coolest Apps” blog series, I spoke with co-founder Christian Nicholson about his app, EchoMe

Prior to speaking to Christian, I’d pictured EchoMe, an app Christian co-founded with fellow Boston College student Michael Gordon, as being perfect for you if you’re that guy at the party who won’t unplug his phone from the AUX or allow anyone else to make any song requests because you’re loving the chance to play DJ. I knew you could connect the app with your music streaming service and listen to music in real-time with your friends, influencers, musicians, athletes–anyone. I also knew, as someone whose songs are constantly being vetoed on long road-trips for being too overplayed (I’m a little behind in the music scene, alright?), I’d probably be more of a listener than a leader.

But Christian described it more like this: “It’s like radio 3.0. We’re democratizing radio. You know, you’re on a certain emotional wavelength when you listen to music. Now, someone else can join in [to that wavelength]… a significant other, a friend, an athlete you admire, even your musical hero.”

The idea started three years ago, when a couple college buddies with mutual interests in skiing, long-boarding, and music asked themselves, why can’t we collaborate in real-time on a playlist? They visualized the idea, drew it out, and then began planning how to market it, speaking to about 1,000 other students (in person, at competitions, in survey-form) to figure out if other people liked the concept. They did–it won at the Boston College Venture Competition in 2015. EchoMe has since grown and now employs an additional 25 “student brand managers” at colleges mainly in the Northeast area.

The idea makes a lot of sense. Look around on the subway in Boston. Plenty of people are tuned into their own worlds, listening to music through a set of headphones. If you’re really special to someone, maybe they’ll let you share half the headphone set. This app essentially lets you share half the headphone set with anyone you want–or everyone.

EchoMe also offers silent tours; they’ve raised money for charities and had artists and local influencers lead tours around the city, all while listening to the same music at the same time, together.

Boston, Christian affirmed for me, is a great place to start with an idea. “The Boston ecosystem gets smaller and smaller each week. Look, don’t keep your idea secret–there’s this idea that another entrepreneur will steal it, and yes, you should be wary, but most people out there are willing to help you. I’m always open to offering my own advice.” SSC Venture Partners gave them $2,000 in funding and important mentorship, so I see Christian’s point–Boston was a good community to begin EchoMe. Being a Boston College graduate, he didn’t really consider anywhere else, and he’s glad he didn’t.

But always at the forefront of our conversation, more than funding or start-ups or Boston or entrepreneurship, was music. “There’s something both mathematical and magical about it…” And here, Christian seemed at a loss of words himself. “There’s something transcendent… you know, that thing you can’t put into words.”

Seeing as music is a “universal language” and all that, I’d assumed asking Christian who EchoMe’s audience is was a waste of time. But he had a pretty unique answer for me: “We’re trying to get to music aficionados more than anyone… you know, the music aficionados are the ones who listen to more than 4 hours of music a day. The ones at schools starting their own musical trends. Sometimes it’s musicians, sometimes it’s yoga instructors, or athletes.”

So where does Christian see EchoMe going from here? Like the rest of our conversation, there’s no shortage of passion. “We have a very big vision for EchoMe,” he assured me. “We see millions using it, across the globe. We want to be the app that is real-time and about connectivity through music. There’s plenty of text and visual out there already, but we don’t see a lot of audio. We want our product to bring people together in different ways: Artists dropping their music live on our app; Athletes playing their songs for fans to listen to… Shaun White at the 2018 Winter Olympics, snowboarding and playing music for us.” He doesn’t sound unsure or hesitant when he says any of this to me. He says it like he’s already seen it.

**Have a suggestion for another app/inventor to be featured in this series? Comment below!