MORRISVILLE – Earlier this year, eMinor sold ReverbNation to BandLab, and the deal was announced by BandLab on the company’s website. Now eMinor’s CEO Michael Doernberg will focus his team on a new software solution in the youth sports industry the company has developed, fueled in part by the capital injection from the recent ReverbNation deal.
Michael Doernberg, CEO of eMinor, told WRAL TechWire this week that the company behind ReverbNation has become profitable, with some 1,000 musicians joining the platform each day, and that the company’s management team is faced with a decision due to ReverbNation’s position in the business development cycle.
“We made these investments in music,” Doernberg said. “And we’ve grown into a very successful business. “
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eMinor had launched ReverbNation, then developed an internal marketing platform, which would become Adwerx. In 2015, eMinor created Adwerx in his own independent company, led by Jed Carlson as CEO, who, along with Doernberg and three others, had founded eMinor and built ReverbNation.
But not until this integrated marketing effort spurred ReverbNation’s growth, leading to the company’s success, Doernberg noted. The company was very successful and positioned the company so that it had to make a decision about its next move, Doernberg said.
“Our next step, if we went beyond that, is that we would make big investments in the music business, around music rights and the audience,” Doernberg said. “It was a decision we had been talking about for a long time.”
Then, in the middle of the year, a path to taking ReverbNation to its next step became clear when the company submitted an unsolicited offer.
“We had an opportunity, an interest in Reverb Nation, in the middle of the summer, and the problem with that was that one of the things we had to ask ourselves was how we could divide the company in order to sell it, ”Doernberg told WRAL TechWire.
But through the conversation, it became clear that the deal could benefit all parties involved. BandLab would acquire ReverbNation, but not the company behind it. Doernberg’s team of around 50 employees could focus on an internal early-stage effort to establish a product developed by the company, Playmetrics, and the BandLab team could successfully resume operations from ReverbNation, a- he declared.
“BandLab allowed us to keep the business together and sell the business,” Doernberg said. “They had a whole infrastructure to run the business, and they didn’t need everyone, so it was very natural.”
That was the rationale for selling ReverbNation, Doernberg explained, it was both the right time to sell, and it “allowed us to capitalize the future business with Playmetrics with money.”
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“Deep down, a lot of us, I’ve worked with core people for a long time,” said Doernberg of the eMinor team. “We kind of have DNA, and we’re a technology company, so with one of the things that happened with eMinor, we started to realize that what we were really good at was creating technology companies. “
Take Adwerx for example. The company broke away from ReverbNation and split into a separate building, with separate teams, in early 2015. The company continued to provide advertising solutions primarily in the real estate industry and recently raised $ 14.5 million of capital to fuel its growth.
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“We led Adwerx and we wanted to do more, incubate ideas, build businesses,” said Doernberg, who is also an investor in a new Triangle-focused venture capital fund led by Scot Wingo.
Doernberg, who grew up playing football and then raised a son who played club football, saw an opportunity to provide software for youth club sports teams to streamline logistics and operations, at one time where the industry was becoming more and more professional.
“There is an inflection point, where something is happening, and the business has a reason to start, and for us the expectations for service, professionalism in youth sport have really improved, this that she had never really done before, ”Doernberg says. “It was starting to get a lot more prevalent and you were starting to see the rise of large professional organizations. “
That was a few years ago, Doernberg said, and the company began to invest resources in product development, which the company could afford to do globally over time rather than in one. more flexible and agile development model where a product team has built a minimum viable product. and began to acquire clients, making improvements along the way.
“Running something like youth sports is extremely complex,” Doernberg said. “We worked with North Carolina FC to develop what we consider to be the best club operating system in the world, and one of the things we did, because we could afford it, was to switch a lot of time to build it, and build it in a really good way.
The continued success of ReverbNation has enabled eMinor and the Doernberg team to make these investments, to incubate yet another ‘startup within a startup’.
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But it makes sense to operate that way, to build a company that excels at software development, Doernberg said.
“Think of the things you’re working on as a continuum,” he said. “For a business, at all times you have to decide where you are going to spend your time, and we were no different.”
“We had these companies that were at different stages of their lifecycle, Reverb Nation was a mature, profitable company whose evolution required a new type of investment that was not necessarily consistent with the skill set of our team and Playmetrics were emerging, growing and just in the right place of what we did right.
The decision had to be made, given the lifecycles of the two companies within eMinor, Doernberg said. When the companies were ReverbNation and Adwerx, the company decided to create Adwerx. Now with Playmetrics and ReverbNation, Doernberg said, “it was a choice between keeping Playmetrics and expanding it into eMinor and setting Reverb on a new path, or the other way around.”
After the incoming request to acquire ReverbNation, eMinor chose a path forward. Playmetrics already have between 160 and 170 clubs using the company’s software solution, Doernberg said, including some of the “hot names” in youth football.
“What we’ve done is grow this business by moving the DIY software that has helped run these clubs, and as these clubs become more professional, one of the challenges they have is how to keep all of them. these people on the same page at the same time, ”Doernberg said.
Now, fueled by sales capital from ReverbNation and with the eMinor team almost intact, the focus of the company shifts to accelerate the growth of Playmetrics.