In the startup world, oftentimes the big idea you start with isn't the right idea to stick with.
Marcus Cobb and Adam Clabaugh began Jammber in 2013 out of tech incubator 1871 as a professional network for the music industry, a la LinkedIn, but a visit to a record label office inspired the co-founders to instead create a music production management platform. "I saw stacks and stacks of payroll checks that were returned to sender," says Cobb, Jammber's CEO. "These checks were taking three months to two years to print, and they were wrong addresses, or there were stage names instead of legal names."
Today, Jammber provides digital tools to automate payments and manage workflow as well as tasks like completing union contracts and tracking names for album credits. Companies pay $65 to $250 per month for administrator access, and Jammber collects a transaction fee of 2.5 to 5 percent, Cobb says.
In 2015, Jammber participated in the first cohort at Project Music in Nashville, Tenn., a music business accelerator sponsored by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the Country Music Association. Cobb, 40, a serial entrepreneur, invested $300,000 of his money in Jammber and raised $415,000 in early funding. He has also raised $950,000 of his $1.2 million seed round goal. He splits his time between Jammber's Chicago headquarters and a second office in Nashville, which together employ 16 staffers, and plans to open sales offices in Los Angeles and London within the year.
Jammber is Cobbs' third company. (Clabaugh left in 2015.) He sold Eido Software in 2006, a year after its launch. In 2008, he founded a lingerie brand called Marc Wayne Fashions, which led to costuming gigs for music videos that first exposed him to the inner workings of the music industry.
As for education, Cobb will tell you he went to the School of Hard Knocks. His childhood in El Paso, Texas, was riddled with abuse and instability. "I had moved 24 times. . . .My stepfather was a full-blown crack addict. He would disappear with money; we got evicted a lot," Cobb says.
During a computer science class when he was a high school senior, Cobb discovered he had a gift for programming. After graduation, a classmate's mother hired him to program for her business, and he continued to teach himself, coding on paper and taking his notes to the community college computer lab to practice.
Nashville-based Brooklyn Basement Records is one of the 107 companies currently on Jammber's beta platform. "As a small, independent label, we mostly work off everything in Excel spreadsheets," says Blair Clark, the label's CEO. "(Jammber) is really just like a one-stop shop for pretty much everything."
Jammber's next step is to roll out a full platform, Jammber Bridge, to 3,000 wait-listed companies, including Big Machine (home of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts, to name a few), which was one of the first major record labels to sign a letter of intent to use Jammber. Sony Nashville also signed a letter of intent. Cobb says he expects $1.5 million in revenue this year and to reach 7,000 companies by next year's first quarter.