Blog: Vanderbilt MBA Student’s “TuneHatch” Selected to Compete in Rice Business Plan Competition

MBA ’23 students Christal Hector and Nathan Youssef explain how their business, TuneHatch, came to fruition and how the  Vanderbilt entrepreneurial ecosystem has allowed them to create and grow their company thus far. Read more for their personal stories, motivation for entrepreneurship, and their advice for those looking to create their own businesses.

How did you end up at Vanderbilt?

Christal: I chose Vandy for undergrad partially because it was in “Music City USA,” and I was deeply interested in music business and songwriting! I returned for my MBA because I knew that I’d get a great quality education and the school has always been near and dear to me since my undergraduate days.

Nathan: I chose Vanderbilt because I wanted to work on a startup within the music industry. I have been producing music for several years and I wanted to be at a school that gave me access to musicians and had the infrastructure to develop me as an entrepreneur. I am also very grateful to have received an academic scholarship through the Billings Family Scholarship program.

When coming to college did you have any interest in entrepreneurship? If not, when did you pivot? What was your original major/career goal?

Christal: Coming to Vanderbilt, I knew that I wanted to pursue business in some form. Like most college freshmen, my aspirations were initially more varied, as I wanted to both be CEO of a hospital or healthcare system, as well as own a music publishing firm! Over time, my ambitions became more focused, and I applied to business school knowing that I wanted to work full time on my startup business, TuneHatch, after graduating.

Nathan: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. As an undergrad at The University of Texas, I developed a successful media/tech platform. However, I ultimately chose to pursue a career in operations upon graduation. My major career goal was to manage large teams within manufacturing and operations. Throughout my career, I have made music as a hobby and have had several “side hustles” within the music/media space. I specifically chose Vanderbilt because of the C4E, Wond’ry program, and other fantastic resources that are offered for MBA entrepreneurs.

Explain your business and how it works. 

TuneHatch is an online platform that uses predictive analytics to help independent musicians and venues book more profitable shows, as well as help fans find local shows they’ll love. Much like Airbnb connects travelers and homes across the world, TuneHatch connects musicians, venues, and fans in a streamlined way. Our predictive analytics-powered algorithms allow us to recommend shows to fans based on their unique tastes and match musicians and venues for bookings in a way that maximizes fan turn-out, and, thus, revenues.

Where did the inspiration for your company come from?

Christal: The inspiration came while trying to get my songs published in Nashville during undergrad! During this process, I encountered many talented musicians that expressed that they wanted to pursue music as a full-time career, but there was no clear path to make that a reality. Since I was also interested in entrepreneurship at the time, I thought about ways I could help these musicians make music a profitable career choice for themselves. After going through many ideations around this concept, I eventually came to the idea of TuneHatch, as it is today.

Nathan: The inspiration came after meeting my classmate, Christal Hector, for coffee. She explained the platform she was working on and I immediately understood how I could help. After our first chat, I ordered a 6-foot “Tunehatch” neon sign and a few weeks later hosted our first Tunehatch Showcase. I am now a co-founder & COO and I am very excited about the future of Tunehatch!

Watch the first showcase here!

What has been the most challenging part of the process so far?

Christal: The most challenging part has definitely been finding technical talent to build the product. Talented programmers are in high demand, so it’s difficult to find those willing to work for the rates that early-stage startups can afford.

Nathan: The most challenging part has been finding technical talent to build the online platform. However, we have made significant progress and our beta platform is nearly ready for launch.

What courses have been most helpful in the process of building your company?

Christal: The Pre-Flight/Pre-Launch and Post Launch programs at the Wond’ry (rebranded “Ideator” and “Builder”) helped me take TuneHatch from idea stage to beginning my work on our first MVP. Their programs and staff have been extremely helpful and encouraging in the process of working on TuneHatch.

Since coming to business school, the Launching the Venture course helped to reinforce the foundational knowledge needed to start and run a venture and was particularly helpful in demonstrating how investors think and how to formulate financial projections.

Nathan: Launching the Venture helped me think through all the intricate details associated with developing a pitch deck for investors. Professor Burcham teaches his courses in a way that is catered to real-life practice. I am also in his business models class where I am spending the next seven weeks analyzing and implementing my learnings within TuneHatch’s business model.

Another course that is helpful is “Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship” taught by Mario Avila. His course explores the spectrum of activity in the growing social enterprise arena and how businesses can address social and environmental issues.

Has your new business concept altered your long-term career goals?

Christal: I intend to work on TuneHatch for the foreseeable future!

Nathan: I’m all in on TuneHatch and plan to pursue it full time!

What is your biggest piece of advice for those wanting to pursue their own business ideas/concepts?

Christal: Use every experience on your entrepreneurial journey as an opportunity to learn and grow. Starting a business is hard, and you’ll make many more mistakes than you’d anticipate. You may even find that starting a business is not what you want to do after all. But in the end, all the ways you’ll have grown as a person will have made it worth it.

Nathan: Be kind and open to feedback — A lot of people want to help you succeed so strengthen those relationships and find ways to give back to people that help you along the way!

Christal and Nathan of TuneHatch were invited to compete in the 2022 Rice Business Plan competition from April 7th to April 9th in Houston. The Vanderbilt Center for Entrepreneurship is a proud supporter of Christal and Nathan and wish them the best of luck!