Leaders that are able to build and create a culture of openness and collaboration are able to encourage their team to better self-develop, communicate, and share what they are learning so they can capitalize on the actions they are or could be doing better, and promoting and pushing one another to do the same. But where do we begin in order to create and maintain this idea that we call product culture?
On today’s episode, we chat with Marcus Cobb, a technologist, product designer, public speaker, and successful entrepreneur. Marcus is a highly sought-after investor, mentor, and strategist for numerous organizations. He’s also the CEO and co-founder of Jammber, a Nashville-based music technology company that focuses on streamlining the incredibly complicated process of creating a song, sharing it with the world and ultimately getting paid and getting credit for it.
Throughout this episode, you’ll get to hear Marcus discuss his role as an entrepreneur, his personal experiences with building an amazing team culture, and his current role as co-founder and CEO of Jammber. Find out more on how Marcus and his team are disrupting the music industry with their platform, Jammber. Tune in for More!
In this episode with Marcus Cobb, you’ll learn:
- How positive product culture can be a secret ingredient for team success
- About the music tech industry and the opportunities available
- Marcus’s personal experience and growth as an entrepreneur
- How the Jammber platform is impacting the music industry
Please enjoy this conversation with Marcus Cobb!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Marcus Cobb quotes from this episode of Igniting Startups:
“I think one definition I heard for integrity that always stuck with me is that integrity is keeping your word to your own heart.” — @jammberceo @jammbermusic on @PowderkegHQ
“I mean, the one consistent currency of destiny is diligence, which is painstaking effort. No one can take that from you. And when you start seeing the reward of that, you don’t want anyone to.” — @jammberceo @jammbermusic on @PowderkegHQ
“How do you play your cards, so to speak? I think we have to make that decision ourselves especially as entrepreneurs, because it’s impossible. I’m going to go on a limb here and say I think it’s impossible to have a startup and play by all the rules.” — @jammberceo @jammbermusic on @PowderkegHQ
“I don’t think that any one company can bring about disruption. I think we write it.” — @jammberceo @jammbermusic on @PowderkegHQ
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and Organizations:
Venture Capital Firms:
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Marcus Cobb 00:00
When everyone realizes we’re all here for the same purpose, and we’re here to serve, we remind people that and the Eagles kind of realign. But you have to do it at the top. And I never throw titles around or any if I have to do that, and there’s something broken in the culture
Matt Hunckler 00:20
Hey there pattycake fans. This is episode 98 of powderkeg igniting startups, the show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators building remarkable tech companies in areas decidedly outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today we’re going to be talking to Marcus Cobb CEO at jammer, a Nashville based music technology company focused on streamlining the incredibly complicated process of creating a song, sharing it with the world and ultimately getting paid and getting credit for it. Marcus is a technologist, product designer, public speaker and successful entrepreneur. And he comes from modest and humble beginnings in El Paso, Texas, where he was born and raised. He’s definitely become one of the most highly sought after investors, mentors and strategists for numerous organizations. And his most recent role is the CEO and co founder of jammer, which is a company that I came across two three years ago as counterpick was expanding into Nashville. awesome to have Marcus here. Marcus, thank you so much for taking time on a Friday afternoon.
Marcus Cobb 01:20
Mad happy to man happy to but I appreciate it. I always love talking to you. So I’m here bells on, you know, kind of jumping into this beautiful entrepreneurial journey. So here we go.
Matt Hunckler 01:30
Likewise, my friend and you have been up to a lot right now a jammer in the last two years and following from afar on social media. And I definitely want to dive into that. But before we do, I always love to kind of go back to the roots. You know, where did you where did it all begin for you? Where did you grow up? And how did you first get exposed to this thing called entrepreneurship and technology?
Marcus Cobb 01:54
Yeah, you touched on I grew up in El Paso, Texas, which I’m at an age now in my early 40s, where I’m really more aware of kind of the circumstances I was born out of the brought me here. All the things I didn’t appreciate before. It’s funny. I was just I just tweeted when I first read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. That book really pissed me off. Matter of fact, I, I emailed him immediately read that book because I felt it was super, kind of we’re all a product of of our destiny in our environment, right? Even outliers are really lucky in the fact they are because of certain things they can’t control. And being an entrepreneur, that that really rubbed me the wrong way. Now 10 years later, that’s exactly how I feel. Is that super lucky to be here? Well, I had choices inside of my circumstances. I didn’t have choices outside of those circumstances, right. And I’m pretty thankful for that El Paso is a very industrious town. It’s been in the news lately, too. You know, tragedy we just had there that really brought the nation together, I think to wrap their arms around El Paso. But El Paso has been a city that’s wrapped its arms around his people for as long as I can remember. So our family there, yeah, my family there. I haven’t been on paths in a while though. So now it’s on my heart to go as soon as possible. But I say that to say you know that I think that foundation, even though I grew up in a pretty poor neighborhood, we had a state of the art computer lab. We had bookmobiles, which are like, basically, ice cream trucks full of books, that kind of writer. Really, yeah.
Matt Hunckler 03:36
I was a patron of the bookmobile for sure. What do
Marcus Cobb 03:39
you really mean, I literally just felt old encyclopedia brown books that I used to love as a kid. And then, I’ve told the story many times my grandmothers were, you know, they would celebrate everything I would do, no matter how small was just putting like an electric motor to a nine volt battery. Wow. And how they celebrated. Usually, like just a lot of it was, you know, praises and applauds. And Pat’s on the back. You know, I think a lot of I think I think Destiny flirts with all of us when we’re kids in a certain way of saying, I believe that positive reinforcement really helps serve sparks of destiny, Blaze into flames. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. And my grandmother’s were all about that. There was no I could do no wrong in their eyes. Not I mean, except talking back control for them. You know, but as far as, like the curiosity that consumed me, it was cool. Just as a quick anecdote, I actually got in trouble one time because from the bookmobile the library and learn how to build or I thought I learned how to build a, a ruby laser, and all I needed to do was find a synthetic Ruby, which was really hard to do when you’re 11 and
Matt Hunckler 04:55
nobody synthetic Ruby dealers when you’re
Marcus Cobb 04:59
there are in the phonebook. But what I did find in the phonebook is for those of us who don’t have phonebook is, was gas suppliers, I could buy neon gas. And wow, I remember calling up this gentleman who answered the phones like Sunday, you know, neon gas can kill you. And I was like, Goodbye, thank you hung up the phone. So, you know, fast forward, I had a pretty definitely a tough rough childhood that I don’t like to shed a lot of light on, but just acknowledge that it was there. And were
Matt Hunckler 05:29
there any any particular circumstances that you feel like, really help? The fact that you went through those experiences helped you later in your career?
Marcus Cobb 05:40
Yeah, you know, I, um I was a, my stepfather was an abusive kind of angry guy, just not a good guy, not a good person at all. And if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, when your kid especially, you get some baggage out of it, but you also get some superpowers out of it, if you’re lucky enough to survive it. You know, the baggage is you might be a little more codependent, you might be a little less trusting and those kind of things. But some of the superpowers is that, you know, you you learn how to take a hit, and you learn how to get back up. And you learn how to go into an environment that would normally be full of fear, but find this bubble of hope you find ways to escape, even in toxic places. And those tools can become really powerful for an entrepreneur, especially kind of painting your own reality, I would prefer not to have gone through that. I don’t want to glorify in any way whatsoever, I don’t think was a necessary ingredient. But I do think that, you know, I am fortunate that I’m a little stronger today, I really don’t, I’m not afraid of much, you know, except maybe my kids growing up too fast. So with that in mind, those elements really made me escape into school more and escape into books more and I played
Matt Hunckler 07:08
were there any books in particular that for you are very inspiring, and I imagined to be able to turn that kind of experience into an opportunity and to your point, I would never wish that experience on anyone in the world, either. But to be able to turn that into opportunity is pretty amazing. And a superpower in and of itself.
Marcus Cobb 07:29
Yeah, I would, you know, definitely encyclopedia Brown Books. I thought I kind of was encyclopedia brown like this awesome guy. This we’re beyond his age beyond his years. I don’t know if you remember Calvin and Hobbes books. Of course, I there was something about you know, as much as Hobbes was was an imaginary friend a toy he came alive in the books in a way that I fantasize about sooner. I don’t like it. That’s, that’s my friend. And the adventures that would go on together. But really, any book that I could comprehend that would satisfy certain curiosity. I got really big in aerodynamics as a kid. I remember I wrote a bunch of I sent a bunch of designs for spacecrafts to NASA when I was young. And
Matt Hunckler 08:16
what was it about aerodynamics? I mean, a lot of kids are just like, into GI Joe, or they’re, you know, a little more normal skateboarding. But you’re like I was into aerodynamics. What was it about that? That really intrigued you?
Marcus Cobb 08:33
I never I’ve never been asked that question before, when you asked me I, my, I think subconsciously it was wanting to fly, you know, one of the fly away, and there was a science to that there’s a science to and science was always fair, I think subconsciously, it makes you feel pretty powerful to embrace the sorcery of science and to find a way to understand it and manipulate it to achieve these really amazing results. So as a kid, when I you know, learned about air foils and the dynamics of power and thrust that was a promise that with the right tools I can fly. And I even tried to build an airplane once with my brother as a as a test pilot, but we were low on budget, as well. So our airplane was actually a shopping cart with a two by four across the top of it, but that’s awesome. We did have an ejection seat made out of a stroller and walkie talkies just in case you happen to fly. I was we were very you never know. We were optimistic kids.
Matt Hunckler 09:33
I like the optimism goes a long way.
Marcus Cobb 09:35
And again, you know that’s kind of that’s actually also part of the the Mexican culture that is prevalent in El Paso is that there’s everything is a community project. You know, it’s it’s not just one person there were probably eight to 10 other kids helped me build this airplane and nobody’s afraid of work hard work is just in our blood. So I Data.
Matt Hunckler 10:00
Were you the Tom Sawyer? Kid? That was? That’s awesome.
Marcus Cobb 10:05
Yeah, it was, you know, yeah. You know, it’s just so thankful looking back. So that backdrop really high school years were tough, but I think a lot of that was there. And the consistent, the one thing that was a little more pliable was computer science, right? I could I could get if I can just get to a computer, I could do something and explore some new magic. And so there was a, an old school graphic language called Apple logo, there was this little turtle on the screen, and you could basically send signals to the turtle like, go left go, right, you know, and the turtle, which now looking back was like poop was basically aligned to follow the turtle. And you could draw anything. Right? So those those are kind of my first programs.
Matt Hunckler 10:53
I think I remember that. I think I remember I didn’t have the attention span for it. I think I remember that
Marcus Cobb 10:59
way. You’re talking way back. I was. So I literally built a Choose Your Own Adventure book game, using Apple logo. That’s so cool. Here’s my kid, my friends 25 cents and Blow Pops to play it. And I carried that floppy disk around with me for like three years, just continuing like
Matt Hunckler 11:16
when the disk was actually floppy, literally a floppy disk I think was like,
Marcus Cobb 11:20
five 512 K, which was massive with its own row. But
Matt Hunckler 11:24
I remember that I was always using old computer gear and hacking stuff together.
Marcus Cobb 11:30
Right? It’s like there was this there’s a release in that you tinker and lights come on. And you know, there’s something really rewarding magic. Let’s come on. It’s magic. Exactly. It is. And I had a computer science teacher, my first formal setting was in my senior year of high school. And he really, again, just kind of celebrated saw how quickly I was picking up Visual Basic at the time. And let me my buddy teach class halfway through the year, as a way to, he came out so she’s like, Hey, guys, look, you’re picking us up really quickly. You’re skipping ahead and the chapters. There’s not much more I can teach you except to teach you guys have to teach yourselves and to do that you guys are gonna teach a class for the rest of the school year. I already cleared it with the dean. It’s a done deal. He was a no, I’ve tried to find a couple times that that was actually became a turning point in my life.
Matt Hunckler 12:20
Yeah. How did that feel?
Marcus Cobb 12:23
I joke all the time when I tell the story to kids that I was pretty short sighted when I when I got that information. Because there was this really, really pretty girl my class name is Misty and I got in trouble all the time for hanging out in Mrs. desk and talking to her, you know. And then my first thought was, now I can talk to Missy as much as I want to and not even. So, that was my teenage mind. That was my first thought there. But it made the school paper and I went to a great school in Las Vegas, Nevada, called Cimarron memorial at the time and it made the school paper and again the school itself had a culture of really setting kids free. It was mostly a wealthy school, upper middle class and upper upper class but there were a few of us that were lower class. And it didn’t matter. The school was just kind of a melting pot and our friends were the same way. One of the people got a hold of that kind of news article, if you will, was a woman by the name of Charmaine Yank. It was since passed when her daughter went to the same school I did we were all having the same friend group. And Charmaine was the first entrepreneur I’ve ever met in my life. What How old were you? I was 19 actually fine. So I was 19. And I didn’t even know what entrepreneur was. I definitely wasn’t sure what I was gonna do for work at this time. You know, I US jobs weren’t huge, at least in my in my purview. And that wasn’t really a career. And this woman who talked about herself was so amazing that one day she surprised all of us with an Easter egg hunt, and all the eggs had IOUs as kids, we thought we’re just, you know, entertaining this crazy old lady before we could eat them. But in fact, she had everything from like $5 for your college books to your class ring paid for in her backyard. That’s the kind of heart she had. She gave away a lot of money that day to kids who needed it and kids who didn’t need it because she just felt compelled to do so. After that, she wants to me she’s like, young man, I heard you do computers. I saw your name in the school paper. You’re a genius. Like yes, ma’am. Thank you. I appreciate it so much, because I’m gonna hire you. You start tomorrow, I’ll pay you X dollars at the time was 20 bucks an hour. Wow. So that was huge, man. I mean, I was living in Section Eight housing their projects at the time, right. And so this woman was making me this offer and what was a mansion at the time and so he talked about the tale of two cities. That she changed my life because what was so magical about hers even though I had this really turbulent background, she was everything I thought it wasn’t. She was, you know, very Hollywood in a way Tom, and you know, big blonde hair everywhere and gold bangle bracelets everywhere, her red sports car. And you know, those were things but in reality, Her background was actually worse than mine. And one of the most amazing things she did for me was attack what I call the poverty mentality. And the sense of the Cinderella complex of feeling like someone owes you something and wishing hoping for your fairy godmother to show up, right. And that’s a really, that’s actually one of the most dangerous things. I think one of the downsides of some forms of welfare is that you you’re always waiting to be held to rescued. She wouldn’t tolerate that. Like if mom was physical, I just call him I was a nickname. You know, it’s that respect was I went through physical abuse, like may need to work. How am I feeling? My parents are not very nice people, my neither get to work I don’t wanna hear. And all my excuses will fall flat. The only thing with only leaves we had was the language of work. And that was a turning point in my life.
Matt Hunckler 16:06
For someone who has that Cinderella mentality. And I, I think if most people if they’re honest with themselves, has that somewhere in the back of their mind? Maybe maybe some more prevalent than others? How, how can they maybe start to quiet that voice, or start to replace that voice with a more empowering message?
Marcus Cobb 16:30
I mean, the one consistent currency of destiny is diligence, which is painstaking effort. No one can take that from you. And when you start seeing a reward of that you don’t want anyone to, I think all of us when we endure some level of pain, we can’t help but romanticize about someone soothing that pain. And I like to say, I think the one voice everyone has is the one scream, we all have an alias I have value. And I think we all need love, we all need people to acknowledge that value in us. And sometimes being rescued is a promise, maybe even a false promise that people rescue us because they see our value. And the downside of that, though, is that no one can actually carry your destiny and theirs at the same time. So while people can meet us where we’re at, and they can inspire us, like like Charmaine did me and many, many others, live my life, that’s the difference is that you have arrest points, but you can’t just lay in someone’s lap until until the song goes away, you fill up and you fill up your tank and you you continue to pursue your destiny, in my opinion, that seems to be what I’ve read about my life. And you want to read the biographies of the many people that study that seems to be consistent across the board.
Matt Hunckler 17:50
And that’s, that’s great feedback. Well, it sounds like that sort of like coaching and nurturing was met with commitment and and follow through on your part. What was your next big breakthrough?
Marcus Cobb 18:09
Actually, it was a it was kind of a a bit of a whitewater rapids. after that. I got hired to join this marketing company was growing really fast. They had a falling out with their resident iOS manager at the time, they had over 300 employees couple of locations. And I was just there. So they put me in, and it’s kind of a Acting Director of it at the age of 19. And the job was relatively easy for me, I loved it, you know, I was both hardware and software. And I got to learn from other managers how to be a manager at a young age, which was cool. And then I got picked up by Microsoft’s really after that on their, like healthcare innovations team at the time. And both of those were pretty striking breakthroughs for me, and then it just kind of took off from there now, not to say, I mean, there were a lot of speed bumps. You take a kid like me and you throw me into corporate America, you’re gonna have some speed bumps, there’s gonna be some learnings.
Matt Hunckler 19:10
Do you remember a particular instance, that was particularly challenging to get through or recover from or maybe not recover from?
Marcus Cobb 19:18
Yeah, I just I just think the norms that we take for granted in business and everything from email etiquette to I one time showed up late for a meeting with Microsoft executives to show off our tack that we built with between Microsoft and WebMD at the time, and this was really breakthrough tech. And I was lead on it and I was the youngest person on the team when I was the only person without it without an advanced degree. And I think a little bit of arrogance might have came with that at the time because I still have this meeting with 90 minutes late with Starbucks on my hands and I had no idea what was wrong with that scenario. I got pulled aside and said I actually fired from that job. Not too long after that, just for those those reasons. And that was one of the best fires we ever had, it was a wake up call. And fortunately, Microsoft invited me back years later different roles. But, you know, I, it was definitely, my character had to catch up with my talents. And I had to learn that invisible language of respect and regard with people by just respecting their time showing up being responsive, but it was not an overnight thing by any means.
Matt Hunckler 20:33
What does that word character mean to you? And how can people whether they’re an entrepreneur, or they’re a software developer, or the project manager, how can they develop character faster?
Marcus Cobb 20:48
I’m not sure I want to project my definition of character, although people because it’s pretty intense. But you know, I come from a you know, Baptist background kind of fire Brimstone type of character. So it’s not quite that what I grew up with. But those you know, there’s, there’s still some biases there. I think one definition I heard for integrity that always stuck with me is that integrity is keeping your word to your own hurt. And it’s gonna take that a little too far for my for the codependent standpoint, but I still lean on that. Because if you hurt if you make a promise that you end up suffering from a little bit of pain for you’re less likely to to use your words and promises. So lightly, slightly the next time, right, you kind of hold yourself accountable. And I think that’s really what that what that means. So I think character is really most manifested when your life is bigger than yourself. And there’s a general healthy regard for other people around you. I think those ingredients, the more you have a regard for people in a healthy way, your character will kind of find its will find itself.
Matt Hunckler 21:59
What were some of the benefits that you cultivated from developing some of that character and applying it to your career? And how did that kind of set you up to what you’re doing now is the founder and CEO of Jabber?
Marcus Cobb 22:12
Well, on one hand, I’ve had some really amazing mentors and managers along the way. I grew up in an era while I’m learning this computer science stuff, there are these really big scandals on the screen like Enron at the time, right? Sure. It fascinated me that 30 people in a boardroom, I don’t know the exact number was but you know, 30 people in a boardroom could create such a vacuum and make so much wealth evaporate, that would leave a crater literally a black hole in the economy, people’s lives. And that’s like an injustice to me. And it felt like I was really heartbreaking at the time, having had the contrast of knowing someone like Charmaine, as an entrepreneur and seeing these people who were so nonchalance, at least appeared that way on TV, about the damages that were causing, and there are so afraid of, you know, being held accountable themselves that they the lie just went on, and went on and on. And I think a lot of people Fake it until they make it, you know, especially when you thought the startup founders, you see that across the board. But it’s something different to be reckless with billions and billions of dollars people’s people’s think so you make a decision. As a as a person. Where’s your line of? You know, where’s your line of integrity? When does it go from faking it till you make it until you’re suddenly Katie Holmes and Theranos? You know, what? Why do you play your cards, so to speak, I think we often make that ourselves, especially as entrepreneurs, because it’s, there’s no it’s impossible to I’m gonna go on a limb here and say, I think it’s impossible at a startup and play by all the rules. I think that the game is rigged. And it’s leveraged going into the game. I mean, even venture capitals leveraged, right. So I think it’s impossible to play by every single rule. And some of those roles. If you even look at people will put in rules to maintain their power. Just look at what’s happened with Airbnb, in different cities and what Uber went through, and its initial growth dealing with taxi medallions across different markets. So yeah, I think just finding that balance and and being aware of are you really bringing, having a be accountable people around you? I mean, I really think that she Katie Holmes thought that she was bringing, saving the world in her own mind and convinced herself that it was everything she was doing was worth it. But when you stop heating, all the advice and warnings around you, I think you’ve gone too far.
Matt Hunckler 24:48
Absolutely. Absolutely. And it seems like that momentum that you built through your career, while maybe there were setbacks along the way you get fired for Microsoft. Yeah, you picked yourself back up and threw yourself back in the ring and said, Okay, I’m gonna learn from that. And I’m gonna take that lesson and move forward.
Marcus Cobb 25:09
Yeah, very much. So I think taking responsibility is also empowering yourself to fix it. You know, if it’s my fault, then I can fix it. Yeah, I like that
Matt Hunckler 25:19
way. And I know it’s been a couple years since I’ve heard your full pitch on Jabber. But I’ve certainly read the headlines as you’ve raised some money. More recently, and love what you’re building such a cool product. How did you come up with it?
Marcus Cobb 25:39
We’re geniuses. That’s actually one of this. We’re just you know, my fairy godmother flew in through the window. I was like, Marcus, you’ve worked so hard, curious. Now. Here’s your billion dollar plan. And she rolled it out for me. And I just,
Matt Hunckler 25:51
you know, we just ran with that. That’s what we sent her my way.
Marcus Cobb 25:56
I want to talk to you right now. You’ll see Matt, thanks, man. A lot of falling forward. And actually, it’s it’s also it’s again, it’s also a tale to cities on one hand, chamber is the epitome of what my dream job would be as an entrepreneur, even though I’ve been entrepreneur for a long time, and I’ve had some success, financially. And in other ways with that, I never really felt like I arrived, I think it’s, I just got better at making money. If you’re doing it for as long as I have, you’re not making money and you can’t get profitable, you probably do something else. But, you know, when I would I imagined entrepreneurs feel this way too, when I would read, you know, Michael Dell’s book, or Howard Schultz from Starbucks, has his book, pour your heart into it, or stories about Edison or Bill Gates, especially, I mean, one of my favorite stories of all time is the story of Bill Gates. And Paul Allen was sort of Microsoft. Yeah. Or watching the social network movie about Facebook, right? You they walk into these moments where they’re like these, there’s a Greek word called Kairos. Kairos is basically this synthesis of everything being right the timings right? The people, right, the environments, right, and something explosive or amazing happens. And you kind of fantasize about that as entrepreneur or at least I do. And if you haven’t, if I don’t feel like that’s my mother right now. I mean, it’s kind of amazing to Jambres everything that as a start as entrepreneur, I would want it’s it’s needed. It’s a bit of a blue ocean of eerie blue ocean stretch strategies. There’s not a lot people doing, we’re doing. Absolutely, the timing is perfect, because streaming is, is forcing an industry to change that has not been able to change itself in over 100 years. And now it’s being forced to really rapidly. So I don’t think that any one company can bring about disruption, I think we write it. And because disruption is there’s also there’s it’s chaos theory is right, there’s so many things you can’t control. But here Jember is at the helm of what I think we have an opportunity to usher in this renaissance of the arts by removing a lot of the red tape the capitalism was put in the place of creativity. And all the first iteration of that is getting music creators songwriters paid faster. And it’s that simple use case is incredibly, incredibly difficult and when most complex as this has ever been in, which is with the Telstra city’s parks, even though I found my dream opportunity. In many ways, this mountain is bigger than any mountain ever climbed before. It’s taking everything I’ve learned in 20 plus years about software design, team management, I’ve done a lot of FinTech platforms, it’s taken everything. And even what I came here with is not enough, right? I’m learning every single day of how to stay on the surfboard, so to speak. So it’s it’s fascinating. I, I’m excited. I’m really,
Matt Hunckler 29:07
that’s great to hear, man. How did it all start with Jamberry? Was it something that you saw a problem that you saw? Was it uh, hearing someone talk about the problem?
Marcus Cobb 29:19
Yeah, kind of a bullet points. I mean, it’s, it’s, well, things were in some ways a started, you know, when, when I was a toddler at my grandmother’s house, and I want to learn how to play piano and I wrote all the letters on the piano keys and permanent marker and wrote them wrong. And I just started from ABCD and went up the keyboard and that’s not exactly how it works. But I think that, you know, I’ve always been drawn music but I never saw how music and technology come together. I didn’t want to design instruments or anything like that. That wasn’t that wasn’t attracted to me. But now the bullet points are is really serendipitous portably The fall I sold a software company, my first solo as it. There’s kind of this season of extraordinary success. I was part of the early team tickets now. And that’s the you know, my filmic sold that company for children 70 million to Ticketmaster, and the being part of that founding team. We had a lot of swag coming out of that, because we knew we built something amazing and great. And really, really quickly. So a lot of us wanted to try and reproduce that success. I went on and started another software company, and I sold that. But by first of all, I’d say without that same team around me was a bit depressing. I realized I didn’t care as much about the monetary benefits of building a company. I like to build and create replaces the work. So I went into a bit of a depression, honestly, when you, I think for me, and I’ve heard them talk to other entrepreneurs who felt this way. Become a bit of a ronin, when you exit out, and you It took me two years to find the light at the end of the tunnel and a purpose up again. And I went to a TEDx Midwest in Chicago. And for some reason, just the messages that that TEDx really resonated with me. I had some healthy cleansing tears just about, okay, look, we can, what’s my new purpose here, and I was I was still making money. I actually had a consulting company at the time I was, we were doing really, really well. But I just hated my job. I hated everything. So fast forward, my buddies like Walmart, you know, what else do you have? Like? What are what else is in your brain? And so we did about two weeks of show Intel. I was my original co founder. And he’s like, what’s that one? I’m like, I don’t know. It’s kind of like a LinkedIn for music industry. Man, I see this really big opportunity there. And that became chamber. I saw because, and everyone gets a bit of a head fake when I say this, but you know, the story where I became a fashion designer for a little while. So after I sold my company, the tech company, I was just burnt out on tech. Right, burned out, we’re talking, you’re working 20 hours a day, everything hardware software, you just use at some point in time, I think he just burnt out.
Matt Hunckler 32:18
I’ve got a buddy doing the same thing right now is started a custom men’s menswear business.
Marcus Cobb 32:26
Right, because it’s just not a tech. It’s like you’re building and but actually, that changed my life realizing that before I was a tech guy, and in my circle, I was the tech guy, you want something to go to markets, right. And matter of fact, when I became a designer has been an intervention, they also made a dinner and told me I lost my mind. And I was you know, and I was ruining our mutual opportunities, because I was a tech guy, and now from designing fashion. And then last read that, you know, I’m not much used to these guys if I’m designing a fashion, so but I just like, you know, I held on to it. And it ended up being the yin to the Yang, which would lead to chamber.
Matt Hunckler 33:08
But I’m sorry, go ahead. No, I
Marcus Cobb 33:11
was just saying he’s became you know, I want to give this I want to be very succinct, because it’s a bit of a lot of story. But essentially, I started designing I didn’t, I’m not really good designer. I realized I’ve always been a designer, music, software. Now fashion, they’re actually all designs. And I love creating designs that would resonate with people and make them happy or change their lives and have some kind of positive value and fashion or just a new medium. So some ways that set me free from this box just being the tech guy. And we got pretty good at it. Even though I wasn’t I’m not a good seamstress. Still, I mean, I can I can, I can still uh, means exact three step stitch. But I’m not. That’s not my gifts, but I could put together products design and stories and really resonate with a customer customer segment. And in fashion, I found it relatively easy to build a team of people that had all these strengths they’d been working on for years decades that I could hone into a product that was became Markwayne which was the fashion line. Fast forward we get a phone call one day from this guy’s like Hey, I Googled you like your designs. I’m doing a music video for people he says artists maybe heard of Look, we’re not going to pay you guys but if you guys want to come down we need some custom pieces. And we have the three days and like wait, I’m sorry, start over again. Like you know, I’ll see what we can do we hang up the phone for people you know it’s people on baby bashes music really they had so So I flew down there and that’ll put a lot of doors across music industry for me and I don’t even think people knows because I was just a designer behind the scenes, right. And I was this designer now and I, I got an opportunity to put together girlband. A guy who was working for Sean Combs at pathway records at the time, as well as producers like, hey, Marcus, we want to put together a girl band with this kind of formula. You love music man, you love fashion. Come help us put together products. And I’m like, yeah, how hard can it be to put together girlband? I’m down. Yeah, I can see you’re laughing. It was the hardest I’ve ever done in my life. It was so hard. And I I never get started tell the story. Yeah, it was just really hard. And that was such a contrast to the success I had in fashion. I was really successful the fashion with no background, because I also put a team around me, right. And here I am in music in Chicago at the time with 8 million people. I can’t put together a girl banner for girls. That was infuriated. And I was like, We need a bigger funnel I need I need in the fashion world. I can say I’m looking for, you know, a mental model 510 who has experience doing suits and I I’ll get 10 options to work with, right. There was no way to do that in music industry. And that’s where we started at that time. Actually, the music listing board was Craigslist. And I always say anytime Craigslist. Number one is something there’s a market opportunity
Matt Hunckler 36:20
for disruption for sure. So yeah,
Marcus Cobb 36:23
fast forward. That was the that was the impetus for not to say that jumper was conceived in Chicago, but born in Nashville. So we had enough traction that we got into the 1871 co working space, which was a massive in Chicago, right? I know you’re familiar with it, it’s pretty cool space man. They were a group of entrepreneurs at the time or are and so was the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, they were in the same network. So Nashville came up to tour 1871 and announced this music tech accelerator they were launching, and Howard Tolman, who was CEO at all times like Marcus, maybe you should go down to Nashville and check out this music tech thing. We had no fucking this already, but in Nashville, like Chicago. And it turned out to be a life changing experience for us going to Nashville, and it was the best thing we ever did. Matter of fact, I’m still a natural part time. That’s been that was 2015. And I met you the first time about a year and a half after that we’re talking about. Yeah. So and this brings it all to a head we the problem I was trying to solve was a discovery problem. How do you recruit talent, and matter know you’re doing some cool things around similar problem sets, recruiting talent, and you know, a lot of the right people with the right things at the right time, right. And there’s a bit of a science to that. But in the music industry, the top 1% of the people make 70% of all the money. And at the same time 40 to 50% of that money never makes it to some of the rights holders that need it most. And we realized we had to solve that problem first, nothing else we did at the bottom of the pyramid was really going to have impact. And so we finished the inefficiencies of the marketplace, how the money moved.
Matt Hunckler 38:04
That’s such a cool opportunity and sort of Genesis story. And I know you’ve iterated a lot on the product since then. And you’ve kind of It seems like you’ve really captured some magic in how you go about building products and probably because of the different kinds of products all the different experiences of different kinds of products you’ve built from your shopping cart airplane to your to your girlband. Well, what is it about? What is it about sort of that culture, that product culture that you’ve created? There is maybe a secret ingredient that that other people could potentially cultivate on their own teams.
Marcus Cobb 38:45
I think it’s about taking fear out of the environment. There’s this company called IDEO, which Yeah, they’re a phenomenal you’ve heard of them, right? Oh, yeah. Now they’re a phenomenal design Think Tank and they’ve evolved over the years. But one of the famous stories is that when the computer mouse first came out, it was you know, really expensive to build. And Steve Jobs approached IDEO, I need a better mouse I need it for nine bucks. And I don’t know the exact number was was level like that. And the founder, the designers were inspired by roll on deodorant for how the ball the trackball moved across an X and Y axis. And that became the inspiration for those less expensive mice. The first ones are actually laser mice, Xerox develops ideal has done a lot of innovations like that and they they like they cultivated an out of box thinking environment by removing a lot of the ego and pretension that is easy to creeps into design very easily.
Matt Hunckler 39:48
How do you how do you address that when that does come up in the culture. When that ego flares up when that
Marcus Cobb 39:58
we call it out at Jember And I think top down. One of the reasons that I chose Mike cofactors, in the same way, they know they’re good at what they do. They don’t have to Lord that over anyone else, we’re here to serve. And we’re here to make a positive impact people’s lives. And while we all have an ego, we have a little, we all have PTSD from high school, so to speak, right? It, it shouldn’t get in the way of what’s best, you know. And when everyone realizes we’re all here for the same purpose, and we’re here to serve, we remind people that and the Eagles kind of realizing that you have to do it at the top. And I never throw titles around or if I have to do that, then there’s something broken in the culture. So we it’s a delicate balance. It’s everything right now we’re going through a hiring burst. So every time we go through new hiring phase, it’s harder and harder to maintain that standards. Because all of us have baggage and all this. There are plenty of cultures out there where it’s kind of dog eat dog, and there might even be cultures where that’s necessary. But at jabber it if you’re afraid of announcing a better idea, because your first day in the job, and we all lose, yeah. So how do we create a culture where we pull those ideas out of you, the moment you started our company, and I will say we’ve arrived, but I do think culture is is the most important part of design. How people feel because design is about feelings. It’s about emotions. And that’s all we know is human beings are experts in the world through these five plus senses, we’re experiential beings. And so design is evoking emotion on some level all the time. And if you’re not aware, if you’re designing from a toxic or limited place that will come through in what you produce as a product. And if you’re designing from a place of servitude and high regard, that will also come through because software is a good example, I’ll end with this. Software always has a tendency to go back to zeros and ones it is binary by nature. But people were analog, right? So if you let your tech team often drive product, they’re going to do what the hardware wants them to do. They’re going to do what the the tools want them to do, they’re going to stay in those boxes. And you have to work from the human experience backwards to to resist that gravity and make software do what is supposed to do in which is enrichment lives.
Matt Hunckler 42:35
I love that man. I love that and appreciate you pulling back the curtain a little bit about some of the magic that’s giving you guys on attraction a jammer? What, just before we close here, I would love to hear a little bit more about where you’re at with Jamba right now, what some of your big opportunities are. And, you know, maybe if if some talent is listening here where they can go to check out jobs?
Marcus Cobb 43:00
Well, yeah, I was gonna accidentally talk it over you there I, I looked at the most important part, which is hiring really amazing people. So I have some pretty awesome designers on my team. And we, it’s, we all hear people say this all the time, you know, hire people that are that are smarter than you. We actually do it a Jabber. And it’s, we know we’re doing it when our insecurities come out a little bit. And we don’t want to hire that person. That’s the person we hire.
Matt Hunckler 43:28
So you recruit and find those people.
Marcus Cobb 43:32
I still believe that A’s attract A’s and B’s attract C’s. I don’t mind telling people that I’m one of the best at what I do. And I’ve honed my skills over time. And if they if they research my background, they’ll they’ll hear that realization, I’ve worked really hard. And I’m really good at what I do from a tech delivery standpoint and product delivery standpoint. I’m good at monetizing products. But you know, I’m not that great at certain graphics, and I’m not that great at certain operation aspects and, and so I’m really looking for someone who’s better if I’m if I’m top tier, let’s say I’m top 4% I’m really looking for someone that’s top 2% I want to win. And I’m not going to lose because we brought the wrong people on board. And I’ve done that I’ve hired many wrong people, but there just weren’t a culture fit or just weren’t good people for that matter. So that’s the most important part, which is where chambers are now and how do you hire a skill when unemployment is under fourth under 3%? And then unemployment in it is under one in certain markets, right? How do you recruit you recruit on culture and mission? There are people that would love jabber as legitimate chats to change the world stock verbally. Absolutely. Music is the history of the world. You’ve heard me say that before. And we can set that free because of the power of technology and design. What a cool thing to tell your kids that I was a part of the next wave of music, bigger than Spotify bigger than all the labels that millions and millions of artists lives were changed because we showed up and got to work. That’s, that’s pretty compelling for me anyway. And I think I think it would be for other people too.
Matt Hunckler 45:14
I love that I love the culture first mission first approach to recruiting talent. If someone listening is interested in Jamba and wants to follow to see if there’s a job for them, where should they go?
Marcus Cobb 45:28
Well, if you want to find out that it’s not that hard. How bad do you want it?
Matt Hunckler 45:33
I love that.
Marcus Cobb 45:36
Obviously, our socials are out there at chamber music.com J MMB. Our music or handles rather, and then jabra.com We’re pretty easy to find. I’m easy to find them on LinkedIn too, or at champers SEO. But yeah, we’re always looking for amazing people and even other entrepreneurs out there. If you guys want to just have that sounding board about that. I know I need to and we can all talk. Matt and I had a good conversation before this podcast was kind of catching up. So we’re here. Here’s her.
Matt Hunckler 46:04
Hey, Marcus, thank you so much for sharing your story. And I’m super excited because I know you’re going to be speaking at 3686 this year, which is basically like the south by southwest of the southeast. August 28 and 29th. This year in Nashville, Tennessee. That’s right. That’s right. Wow. Unfortunately, cannot make it to be there this year, but wanted to give launch Tennessee a huge shout out for putting that on. That 3686 conference is incredible. And I know you’re gonna rock the stage there, man.
Marcus Cobb 46:38
Thanks so much for the love in the shadow. I appreciate that. And I’ll never forget when you surprise me with the article you wrote about you remember, those couple years ago, you have no idea what momentum that put into ourselves. So I love what you’re doing for entrepreneurs, man. And we’ve definitely been a recipient of that. Great, so keep it up.
Matt Hunckler 46:54
I appreciate that. Man. That means a lot to me. Thanks for continuing to be a part of the community. And hey, this is your host, Matt Hunckler. Again, just wanted to say thank you for tuning in. I hope you walk away feeling inspired and arms armed with tons of insights. Make sure you follow Marcus at Jambres CEO, that’s J A m m b e r and then of course jamboree at Jamba music, as Marcus said, and to be among the first to hear the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Give us a subscribe on iTunes. powderkeg.com forward slash iTunes. We’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups