Lawyer Karyn Scott was a juvenile prosecutor in Travis County and a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Texas when she decided her side gig as a manager for bands such as Alpha Rev might somehow be a help to kids in the court system.
“We started pairing kids with musicians. It organically turned into a nonprofit that still exists today, Kids in a New Groove,” she said.
But while she’s still on that nonprofit’s board, she decided she wanted to do something similar at a larger scale. After a stint at the Executive Program for Social Entrepreneurs at Stanford University, she got the idea for a technology startup that could match music instructors with those who want to learn music instruments, songwriting, or other music skills. And it would also require instructors to mentor foster kids through music.
Care2Rock, which allows anyone to get music lessons via web videoconferencing for about $35 per half hour, launched this month with a kickoff party at The Townsend (Photo Gallery). We spoke to Scott about her new company.
WHAT THEY DO: Like other companies that use the Internet to match supply and demand, Care2Rock is a matchmaking service for music lessons. But, Scott says, one crucial difference is that it uses webRTC technology, an open-source platform that allows for browser-to-browser video chatting without needing to install software such as Skype. “You can start a lesson just by opening up your email,” Scott said. Music instructors are screened and are required to mentor a foster child for free with weekly lessons in addition to paid lessons for other clients. Music instructors make about $44 an hour, Scott said, and can set their own schedules for when they can do lessons, which could be ideal for touring musicians or those with full-time jobs. Care2Rock’s platform offers specialized software that takes advantage of computer webcams to show music playing on both the student and instructor side. Customers who want to keep a video of their lesson pay an extra $5 for a permanent copy they can view repeatedly.
WHO THEY ARE: Scott’s background in nonprofits gave her a passion for social entrepreneurship, she says. She’s partnered with Texas CASA for a pilot program that has dovetailed with the Computers for CASA law, which distributes surplus laptops to kids served by CASA. Those laptops, she said, are crucial; it allows foster kids who are moved from location to location to continue their music instruction by having access to their own computers. “It was great timing on our part,” Scott said. “It’s a life changing thing for kids who don’t have access to tools like that.”
At the launch party for Care2Rock, Lisa Briggs, a program management specialist with Texas CASA, said, “It can help a child express emotions they can’t give words to. We’re so excited for what it can do for our kids.”
INVESTMENT: Care2Rock is privately funded and is part of the UnLtdUSA incubator for social startups.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Scott says startup life is tough, but she’s optimistic that she can scale a company such as Care2Rock faster than a small nonprofit. She says she’s picky about instructors on the site (so far there are about 150 in the pipeline and growing) and the company has a rigorous screening process. Promoting the company and getting people excited through events like Care2Rock’s launch party is important, she says.
“People are really excited about anything that can help our music scenes and kids in our community,” she said.
The Statesman's Startup Spotlight series highlights Central Texas startups that might otherwise be overlooked. To nominate a startup for the series, email Lori Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org, Omar L. Gallaga at email@example.com or Sebastian Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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