How this app is bringing payment transparency to the music industry
If you're an independent musician, it's never been easier to drop an album. Streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music let artists distribute their music directly to fans. This new model has shaken up the music industry in a number of positive ways for musicians--but it has also come with some major headaches. Tracking payments from streams for every service distributing your music, along with the revenue splits you might owe to any collaborators, has turned into the most tedious of accounting tasks. Stem co-founders Milana Rabkin, Tim Luckow, and Jovin Cronin-Wilesmith noticed this emerging problem and decided to team up and build a way for artists--whether they're dropping songs or films--to easily manage the financial side of their business from an online dashboard. In exchange for a 5 percent transaction fee, Stem distributes content to streaming platforms including Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube, collects the revenue earned on each platform, and pays out the earnings via PayPal to anyone who had a hand in the creation process. The service is still in private beta but it already has same famous fans: DJ Jazzy Jeff is a customer, and investors include Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk's investment arm, and Scooter Braun (who has represented Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande). --Lindsay Blakely
Millennials don't need watches--but they love this watch brand
MVMT Watches (pronounced movement) was founded on the belief that style shouldn’t break the bank. Since 2013, the watchmaker's goal has been to change the way consumers think about fashion by offering high-quality minimalist products at revolutionary prices. With over 700,000 watches sold, MVMT has solidified itself as one of the fastest growing watch brands in the world.
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How chronic pain and a bad diet inspired this fast-growing startup
Katlin Smith was in high school when she started experiencing joint pain. Around the time she turned 21, she consulted a doctor who couldn't diagnose the aches but hypothesized that they were likely growing pains. Smith didn't buy it. She talked with people who experienced similar symptoms and they suggested that processed foods could be the culprit. She started inspecting the ingredients of items at the grocery store and found words she couldn't pronounce. She cut processed foods and sugars from her diet and the joint pain lessened, she had more energy, and her seasonal allergies dissipated. She felt a difference after a few days and was inspired to create Simple Mills, a company that sells snacks and baking mixes that are free of gluten, grain, soy, and GMOs. Every ingredient on the back of the box is something familiar. Smith started with muffins and the brand has grown to include crackers, pizza dough, artisan bread mix, and even frosting. "If there is something you're passionate about and it can have an impact on people and it's not just something that people want, but something they need, go and pursue it," Smith says. --Emily Canal
This startup's technology is pushing movies into the stratosphere
For Brian Streem, drones are simply a means to an end. A graduate of NYU's film school, Streem produced a number of commercials and independent films throughout his 20s. Then he saw a video online of a drone gliding through the air and realized the opportunity in front of him: The film industry needed this technology. "These entertainment companies are experts in whatever they do," says Streem. "They're not experts in flying, operating, and maintaining fleets of drones." In 2015, Streem co-founded Aerobo with Jeff Brink and began equipping powerful drones with high-tech cameras. (Brink has since left to pursue a separate career in the film industry.) The company, which owns its fleet and operates as a service for those who need aerial shots, was the first drone operator in New York state to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. It has already earned clients in Amazon, Netflix, and Fox, and footage its drones have filmed can be seen in movies including The Fate of the Furious. "I'm less interested in the drone, and more interested in being able to move a camera anywhere in three-dimensional space," says Streem. That's what fascinates me." -Kevin J. Ryan
Why celebrity chefs are flocking to this 'Shark Tank'-backed company
Working in restaurant kitchens during college, Lisa Q. Fetterman became obsessed with large, industrial sous-vide cookers. These appliances heat vacuum-sealed food, slowly, in a low-temperature water bath, preserving flavor and texture. She told Abe Fetterman, her future husband, about the devices on their first date. They finished out the evening building one. The couple started making sous-vide cookers for friends, and then created a DIY kit that they sold, along with classes, in maker spaces. In 2012, they raised close to $600,000 on Kickstarter and moved to China to study manufacturing. Now the Fettermans' company, Nomiku, is manufacturing the $250, Wi-Fi-enabled appliances in San Francisco and selling them to home cooks and restaurants around the world. A best-selling cookbook, an appearance at the first White House Maker Faire, and a Shark Tank moment (Chris Sacca bit) have further raised Lisa's profile. The company chiefly sells direct, but recently made its debut in Williams-Sonoma. Investors include Y Combinator, which helped Nomiku develop a sous-vide recipe-sharing app. The company recently dipped its toes into frozen foods. "In the beginning, it was just us and our friends," says Lisa. "Then it moved to professionals and food fanatics. Now it's anyone who knows how to put food in a bag." --Leigh Buchanan