Inge Andre Sandvik – Adventures in Product and Entrepreneurship

#MusicMonday at ProductTank Oslo saw co-founder Inge André Sandvik take center stage to talk about one of his entrepreneurial adventures. Inge has had a long and varied professional background (including Telenor and Opera Software) before spearheading Soundrop as a CEO and co-founder. Inge relates how the idea behind Soundrop came to be, the early building blocks of success, and the challenges that came along.

The Product Journey

Inge starts with an introduction to Soundrop as a service “at the intersection of social and music”. It all started with a weekend hackathon, creating a music-based product that combined the idea of a radio and a playlist with inputs from a social platform. Leveraging the success of Spotify, Soundrop was one of the early launch partners of the Spotify app platform – getting it the right attention to help raise funds for further development the basic features.

He takes the audience through some high points of the journey. After some initial success, the team added an artist events proposition to its portfolio, generating interest from individual artists and record labels like Warner Music. Validating a customer need before investing engineering resources, Soundrop tasted further success with more than 450 artist events. Illustrating his point, Inge states. “We really didn’t have any product. It was just Soundrop, but we found out that we could use this for artists themselves”.

Despite resource constraints, Soundrop went into an aggressive growth phase. Reducing the dependency on just one partner platform, it integrated further onto Deezer, a service competing with Spotify. Adding more labels, agencies and partners (like Microsoft), preparing for a mobile-first solution, Soundrop was also expanding across multiple geographic locations.

Did Soundrop Survive the Challenges?

Like many other startups, Soundrop had its fair share of challenges trying to support an accelerated growth with limited resources. Inge shares how, with all the hype and activity, there was a dilution of focus, lack of clear communication and the emergence of disagreements within the leadership team. Unfortunately, Soundrop didn’t survive in its original form. The product and the team dismantled, but not before they had sold off some assets to Warner Music.

Closing Comments

Before closing, Inge reflects on the lessons learned through this journey. He has three key takeaways for product managers focused on building and executing new product ideas

  • For a new product idea, leverage partner ecosystem to scale

New businesses can scale and gain visibility by addressing gaps in an ecosystem play

  • Breathe! Don’t let early success dilute your focus

Keep a check on rapid and random developments on a product. Take a step back, pause and focus the resources to streamline the product development

  • Stay connected with your team – closely!

Communicate frequently with internal team members. Ensure everyone understands the challenges each stakeholder faces and shares a common vision.

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