Farah Allen, CEO and founder of The Labz, created a collaborative workspace that provides automated tracking, rights management, protection—using Blockchain technology—of your music files during and after you create them. As an IT management consultant, Farah has been developing software solutions for 14 years; she specializes in Enterprise Collaboration and Data Management.
Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it?
My husband is a musician and he brought this big problem to my attention. As I started to research and interview people, I saw how not protecting music affected the livelihood of musicians to the point of them moving on to something outside of music. Music is so dear to the world–and to me–that I wanted to help musicians afford to be professionals. I had the skills to help so I chose this over everything else. Living in the moment of making music and collaborating does not leave room for the data collection and IP protection process needed to officially own that very same music, so music creators miss this complex process. In 2017, $2.5 billion was unclaimed because of this issue. The Labz combines the collaboration process of creating music (audio sharing and lyrics) with the business process of instant IP protection. We collect the necessary IP data as creators work, and also use innovations with Blockchain technology to memorialize that ownership data.
Who are your cofounders and what makes you a great team?
Nael Alismail (CTO) is a Sr. level Software Engineer and talented Solutions Architect. He founded a startup that created a digital audio workstation for music producers. Nael has been in the IT industry for just over 18 years. He has spent time as a software tester, programmer, and engineer and later as a CTO. Combined with our Founding team members: Tami Latrell Harris (CMO) is an award-winning marketing professional (Ebony Magazine 100). She is also a songwriter, with Whitney Houston on her hit list, and has had her own battle over the ownership of her music. Marguerite Pressley Davis (CFO) comes to us from the M&A department of Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, and Merrill Lynch. She has helped women-owned businesses with their finance strategies, and had a profitable wedding box business (Birchbox for weddings) of her own. Earl Camp (VP of Sales) has 18-years of experience in startup sales. His experience includes leadership roles in NOW Corp., Purchasing Power, and Harbor Payments.
How is your company making a difference?
To date, music documentation platforms require artists to come out of the creative process, try to remember “who did what”, and to become documentarians, data-entry clerks, and technology/platform managers. Additionally, music creators have to worry about trust when it comes to agreements. Our platform cures all of these issues and more. We’re opening up a whole new world where people feel safe collaborating because they know they will receive credit and that their content is protected.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
You can hear ‘no’ more than you have ever thought possible, you will be challenged at every level, and as a woman and a woman of color like myself, you will have to deal with adversity within the funding world. Finding the mental clarity to stay focused and push though—regardless of the adversity—is a battle that has to be fought for, or everyone will lose.
What is your biggest win?
The day I got into the The Comcast Farm Accelerator. It was my first money in and it was also the moment that I went full-time with The Labz.
Who is your role model?
My mother. She taught me my work ethic.
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
I try not to look back but I personally did not know anyone in the startup space when I started. It would have helped me to have a close relationship with someone that I could talk to.
What is your superpower?
The power of persistence.