Megh Vakharia: Integral
It is not very common to be able to work on a product which you are immensely passionate about. However, Megh has been able to do just that as a co-founder of Integral.
What is Integral?
Integral is a platform that helps artists make more money through digital commerce. We allow artists to produce any product they would like to sell to consumers. For example, if an artist wants to sell t-shirts, we will build their eCommerce site, manage their inventory, and help with all end to end details in order to get the product to the consumer. A few of the artists Integral has worked with include Travis Scott, SZA, and Big Sean.
Tell us about your background.
I’m studying Informatics and will be graduating from the University of Washington this June. I would have graduated last year but dropped out twice in the past. The first time was to start a startup called Canary which was the first Uber for medical marijuana, that ended up merging with another company. The second time was to work at another start-up full time. Currently, I’m finishing up classes online in LA while working on Integral.
So you were basically thrown into LA without much notice. What was that like?
I was in LA over the summer working as a product management intern at Hulu. At the time, I thought I would be heading back to Seattle once the internship was over. However, while I was in LA I was able to connect with Chuka Chase and Spencer Schoeben, who are two of the three other co-founders at Integral. I would work with these guys in the evenings during the summer when Integral was just an agency. It was super surreal because I always wanted to work at the intersection of music and technology. I was always thinking of ideas back when I was in Seattle of how to break into the industry. I had been plotting on how I could eventually move down to LA, and it just happened. In a period of literally a week towards the end of the summer, I was asked if I wanted to be a co-founder and made the move down here. It was an opportunity that just fell into my lap and I was like “Dope, I’ll take it!”.
How did Integral evolve to what it is today?
Getting to today’s Integral was an exploration process. First, we learned that the music industry does not have a large budget for apps and websites. We learned this by being an agency to start off. At that point, we would go out and build these apps and websites and get paid once for the completed work. Very quickly, we saw that the budget for these apps and websites is minimal, but there is a lot of money being made on the backend side. We realized that artists need help not only building their site, but managing the products they are selling as well. Ultimately, it was a progression from “let’s help artists realize their art through technology” to “let’s help artists realize their art through technology while also creating commercial opportunities for them”. We’re only successful when our artists are successful.
What are your plans for the future with Integral?
The vision for the platform is to help artists make money, while building creative, commercial hubs for fans to connect with their artists. Our future plans are to create a very efficient system to manage these commercial hubs, both on the development side and supply chain / logistics side. We’ve hit some good internal milestones and I think we’re on good track to raise funding from venture capitalists in the next few months. We’re hoping to use that money to accelerate development of our platform.
How does Integral tie into the person that you are?
Integral is an ideal mix for me because I’m building a company that shifts culture more so than just offers a solution. An example is that I could have gone and worked at companies such Microsoft or Uber which offer normal products that you might use in your day to day life. However, these companies are not really changing mainstream culture in the way in which the music industry does. My goal is to figure out how to bring technology to the music industry. This is because at the end of the day what people are talking about is made mostly by people in music. Music is a key reason why culture happens. Having the opportunity to shape it by helping to design, develop, and push it out is the perfect intersection for me.
Lastly, do you have any advice you would give to others?
Focus on the right problems to solve because it is so easy to make things thinking they will have a large impact, when they actually will not. Don’t be myopic when picking what you want to work on. Focus on things that you think will have macro impact and that you actually care about having an impact on.