Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm
When Jared Judge and Keaton Viavattine started Dream City Music LLC in June 2016, the string quartet booking service was just focused on the Milwaukee market.
But the company has grown quickly, and now handles booking for 11 musical groups in seven cities. As a result, it recently raised a $100,000 seed funding round to finance its growth.
“We want to multiply our efforts, so we’re looking to double down on some of the marketing efforts we’ve found to work, we want to invest in our technology infrastructure, and all of that is to grow,” Judge said.
Dream City Music plans to expand to 20 cities in the next year, Judge said.
“We’re looking to grow quickly because we’ve found a solution that really solves a lot of the headaches for the musicians,” he said.
Jim Mueller, president of Waukesha health benefits consulting firm Mueller QAAS, invested the entire amount of the round, which closed Aug. 30.
Judge met Mueller at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business’ advisory council meeting. Mueller is a member of the advisory council and Judge, a graduate student, had won a business plan competition, so he was given an opportunity to pitch his company at the meeting. The pair happened to sit next to each other at the luncheon.
“Afterwards, I went to sit back down and enjoy my meal and Jim turns to me and says, ‘What are you doing next week?’” Judge said.
That advisory council lunch turned into a one-on-one lunch, and a months-long vetting process became an investment.
With the seed funding, Judge plans to contract additional software developers to help relaunch its proprietary software platform, and marketing professionals to help with the expansion into new markets.
“We are launching our mobile app for musicians, and then we will be giving our website and proprietary backend software a major overhaul,” Judge said.
With the national expansion, Judge has also decided to change the name of the business, which was a play on Milwaukee’s cream city brick, to “BookLive.” It will retain the branding that exists in each market, including Dream City Strings in Milwaukee and Rochester String Quartet in Rochester, New York.
Mueller said he decided to invest in Dream City Music for three reasons.
“Jared is local and he’s a very bright, talented, driven individual who understands the business. You’ve got to have the people,” Mueller said. “The concept’s solid because it’s scalable nationally or even internationally. It’s not something that is just local to any one community. No. 3, there’s a need in the marketplace and the need is for events, including weddings and other gatherings, people are always looking for talent, they want to make sure the talent is high-quality.”
Mueller has been involved with several Milwaukee-area startups over the past couple of decades. He co-founded Wauwatosa-based insurance software firm Zywave Inc. in 1995 and later sold it. He founded Mueller QAAS in 2012. And he’s also invested in Milwaukee-area startups Trivantage Pharmacy Strategies and FlagshipSails RX.
He called on other Milwaukee-area investors to help finance the growth of the local entrepreneurial community.
“A lot of the infrastructure here in Milwaukee has been built and the skyline is starting to change dramatically, but we do need innovation and we do need investment in order to leverage the infrastructure that’s been built over the last 10 years or so,” Mueller said. “So I would ask other Milwaukeeans to invest in this part of the country. It’s going to take a village. We need some locals to step up.”