“I can always learn more. I can always get better at being a manager, at being a leader. I’m always going to be a student.”
—Joe Famalette

When Joe Famalette ’14 (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) was a first-year student, he found himself wading through the Internet as he tried to download music, search for new artists, and find local concerts. “I sat back and said, ‘Why does it have to be such a monotonous process to discover music as a fan—and distribute music as an artist?'” he says. “So I started working on a solution.”

That solution is One Music Portal, a music platform that simplifies that process by incentivizing influential fans to discover artists and share their music with friends. Developing One Music Portal stretched through the rest of Famalette’s time at Macalester—and beyond. Through it, he tackled the dual challenge of navigating the music business and becoming an entrepreneur.

Key to getting started, he says, was asking lots of people lots of questions. Famalette began by reaching out to people with different areas of expertise, including Macalester professors and entrepreneurs in the college’s alumni network. “One meeting would lead to two more meetings and those meetings would lead to three more,” says the media and cultural studies major. “The biggest eye-opener was how much work it was—but at the same time, if you put in the work, the answers are there. It’s not an impossible feat.”

It helped that his project connected to Famalette’s longtime passion for music, which provided intrinsic motivation as his to-do list grew. Between classes, he kept coming back to One Music Portal: making phone calls, sending emails, and doing research. Over three years, Famalette raised capital from family and friends, built and tested a beta product, and cultivated a team that includes Macalester students and alumni, as well as 25 marketing interns around the country. “We all have responsibilities, we all have expectations, and we all check each other as we go,” says Famalette, who oversees the organization as its CEO. This summer the team is working full time in the Twin Cities and is focused on fundraising to launch the new product, build a mobile version, and add new features.

Among the lessons Famalette absorbed at Macalester and with One Music Portal, he says, one of the most important is figuring out just how much he doesn’t know. “I’ve realized this is going to be a process that never ends,” he says. “I can always learn more. I can always get better at being a manager, at being a leader. I’m always going to be a student.”

June 5 2014

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