Security Guard to CEO

It’s 2:00am. I just finished bleaching the toilets. I’m clocked out, making my way down dumpster alley. My legs are beat. Ahead of me, the cross street at the end of the alley, I see a thick, intoxicated mob of burnt orange Longhorn polos and khaki shorts flowing upstream from dirty 6th street. Girls hold hands, arms, shoulders, balancing, heel straps hanging on finger-tips.

I merge into the mob. I’m in all black, quiet and unassuming as I slip around future hook-up partners and in between groups of sloppy, “Where’s a taxi? Excuse me wherrs a taxi, please?” Most find their way to one of the many school buses turned party convoys parked on 7th and San Jacinto. They’re blasting the 2014 version of “Superman Dat Hoe” and are definitely breaking fire code (do buses have fire code?).

As I walk past the hordes of underage drunks, the mayhem, I look up to my left. I can barely see the sixteenth floor of 701 Brazos Street, but I’ll be there tomorrow morning. I dodge a scuffle, “yo, bro, chill, bro,” and beeline for my car. I need to sleep. It’s Wednesday.

I left my job at the Parish, one of Austin’s most notable music venues, in September 2014 for more flexible hours and better pay as an Uber driver.

If you’re an Uber driver you know there are ways to boost your hourly rates by driving during high demand hours, which are typically late weekend nights. I tried my best to avoid these times — I preferred daytime trips to the airport with business people I could practice my pitch with. However, I often ended up attempting to hit my weekly goals Saturday night back down on 6th street.

I had some close scares, but no one ever actually threw up inside my car. No vom splattered across my backseat. I have had an glitter clad UT freshman blow out my speakers though. I’ve had some cryers. One guy asked me how many girls I’ve had sex with. “Like more than a hundred?” No, stranger. I feel uncomfortable.

The worst drive I ever had was with a middle-aged couple out on the town with a friend. I picked them up at Donn’s Depot, a carpeted honkey tonk where old timers in cowboy hats go to dance with their wives to country classics.

As I drove them one woman bragged about how hot they were and how jealous this made the elderly fucks at Donn’s Depot. “You’re so hot,” the boyfriend kept saying, “you’re just too hot for them.”

“We’re so fucking rich,” she would respond, as if this was a natural call back. You’re so hot. We’re so rich. People should stop doing coke in their twenties.

________________________

It’s never been my career goal to be a security guard at a music venue, or an ad hoc Uber driver. I doubt it’s really anyone’s goal to beast mode 18-year-olds out the back door for scrubbing Sharpied Xs off their hands. “No one washes their hands that well!”

The truth is, I probably have had some of the least appealing jobs of any Claremont McKenna College graduate. But, then again, I also have one of the best jobs.

I launched Music Meets Video (MMV) with my co-founders Luis and Darshan about 5 months ago. What is Music Meets Video? For us, a year and a half long project of learning, designing, fundraising, building, pitching, developing, partnering, and, of course, more learning. We built a company, guys. We’re still building a company.

What is Music Meets Video to you, and everyone else? It’s a gamified promotional platform for music artists to connect with new listeners through competition. We host original song and cover contests.

Our vision for MMV stems from the sheer market mass of YouTube cover videos (about 40 million), and the continued popularity of reality music shows like The Voice and American Idol. Here’s an example of what we do:

Taylor Swift 1989 Cover Contest

I didn’t have any concept of the startup world before I came to CMC. I remember Eric Scott ’11 working on a startup called Splitr where people could split the price of a gift. I was impressed. It was a great concept in the early stages of crowd-funding. More importantly, he MADE it. Homeboy just started his own business.

Experiences like this at at CMC changed my perspective big time, especially concerning my career opportunities. I learned about startups. I learned about the fast track to a finance job. I learned about the value of coding. But one of the most important things I gained at CMC was confidence in myself as a professional.

The skills I gained at CMC and the success-driven individuals I spent 4 years with were critical in helping me arrive at this reality. They helped me gain the confidence I needed to work nights at a music venue, to drive for Uber, to not make it rain in the club, all in exchange for one beautiful reward — the time and energy to create my own company.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get across is this:

Claremont McKenna College is great. You know that already. There are a lot of paths to take, and Claremont Career Services will definitely walk you through them. By all means these are amazing opportunities.

But, if you’re considering pursuing creative writing, or documentary film making, or founding a startup, and are worried it won’t make you enough money to survive, don’t be. Find a way to pay the bills and bust your ass to hone your craft. You’re smart, CMC has prepared you. As cliche as this might read, right now you have the opportunity to take a chance on your passion, to do what you love — TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Think about it. It might be hard as hell in the beginning, but the rewards are gigantic.

I promise.

Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

Alex Mitchell
Co-founder @ Music Meets Video

P.S. When the idea for MMV sparked, the first person I contacted was Jeff Huang, CMC Dean of Everything. Jeff connected me with MMV’s first advisor, a CMC alum who many months later became our first investor. The CMC network supported and nurtured me more than I could have ever imagined. For this I am forever grateful.

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