“If Bono had a Record Label”

An interview with Max Grossman (ESIA BA ’17)

May 14, 2014

Q. Tell us about social entrepreneurship. What does it mean to you?
A. Social entrepreneurship is about citizens creating solutions to social problems that governments and traditional businesses have not yet been able to fix.

Q. What problem are you working to solve?
A. GenerationA seeks to solve three pain points: (1) social initiatives’ lack of funding and exposure, (2) artists’ inability to reach larger audiences, and (3) Millennials’ desire for socially conscious products.

Q. What is GenerationA all about? What does it aim to do?
A. GenerationA is a socially conscious record label that produces music, puts on events, and creates video content. We provide (1) social initiatives with funding, (2) music artists with exposure; (3) Millennials with the socially conscious music experience they desire.

Q. Who are some mentors who have provided insights for GenerationA?
A. Melanie Fedri, the Coordinator of GWupstart, has been an unbelievable resource for GenerationA. She’s honest, knowledgeable, and always seems to have the right critique or suggestion on how to address issues GenerationA has faced. Ron Bose, our mentor for the finals, has been extremely insightful in terms of our financials. Professor John Rollins has taught us how best to write our business plan, and Professor Lynda Maddox has shown us how best to pitch GenerationA! Also, for me in particular, my dad is my inspiration. He works like no one I’ve ever met.

Q. Have you had an “aha” moments of insight while working to get Generation A off and running?
A. Maybe not an aha moment, but definitely a pivot, going-back-to-the-drawing-board moment. Just this week GenerationA met a university student–a Millennial in our target demographic–who loved the goals of GenerationA but had suggestions as to exactly what kind of artists GenerationA should target, and how also to really hone in on the social component of the record label. The student’s comments were vital, unexpected, and we took them seriously. Aha!

Q. So it sounds like GenerationA has been “getting out of the building” a lot to understand what your prospective customers really want. How has that process gone for you?
A. As GW students, we tell a lot of our friends about the idea, because they are in many ways the Millennial audience whose pain points we are seeking to solve. They share comments, considerations, and questions that half of the time get us even more excited about the idea of GenerationA. The other half of the time, they get us brainstorming how we can reshape GenerationA’s product so it is exactly what our “customer archetype” is looking for.

Q. GenerationA seems like it thrives on collaboration. Have you had any early wins with collaborations?
A. GenerationA has worked with GRID (Gaming Revolution for International Development), a non-profit venture that creates video games that teaches best practices to address the nuances of international development. GRID just launched their pilot video game that featured music produced by GenerationA’s own Bryce Connolly. For GenerationA, this was our first experience working with a social initiative. It was a very helpful way to learn about social initiatives’ needs and concerns.

Q. How did competing in the GW Business Plan Competition all the way through the finals affect GenerationA?
A. The Business Plan Competition was an incubator for my team. It forced us to write our business plan, pitch our idea, ‘get out the office,’ and ask people what they thought. It provided us mentorship and, most importantly, allowed us to fail as a venture—we did not win the competition. Failure is essential to success, and has hardened us to pursue our vision.

Q. If a GW student was on the fence about turning their ideas into action through social entrepreneurship, what would you say to him or her?
A. I would say to someone on the fence about social entrepreneurship to hop off the fence and get involved! GW has so many resources to help actualize whatever it is you want to accomplish with a social venture. With hard work and the ability accept and consider feedback, really, the sky is the limit.

Q. How does your work with GenerationA support your professional goals?
A. If it were not for becoming a part of GenerationA’s team, I would not have had the experience of working with such a solid team to write a business plan, nor would I have pitched a business in my first year of undergrad. These two experiences have been invaluable. They’ve shown me the ins of what it takes to  start an entrepreneurial venture.

Q. What’s next for GenerationA?
A. Next for GenerationA is producing music, conducting more artist outreach, and streamlining how best to provide value propositions for all three of our customers.

Watch Generation A Record’s Finalist Pitch in the 2014 GW Business Plan Competition:

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