The Local Look: Collab Lyfe

Collab Lyfe CEO Ross Donewald understands that collaboration makes good musicians great. With Collab Lyfe, he’s creating an online resource that connects artists to one another. We talked to Donewald, a music producer himself, about what he’s learned since starting Collab Lyfe in June of this year and why he loves Chicago’s entrepreneurial network.

Ross Donewald is creating a network of musicians via the newly founded Collab Lyfe.

Ross Donewald is creating a network of musicians via the newly founded Collab Lyfe.

Why did you choose Chicago?  Tell us about what it means to be a business in Chicago.  

My two business partners and I all grew up in Chicago. We have a big heart for it, and it’s a great hub for many talented artists. The entrepreneurship scene has blown up in Chicago, and it was awesome to launch here because we were able to get so much help by networking.

If you could go back in time before you became involved in running the business and share one piece of advice with yourself, what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself that paying for a good coder is totally worth it. Don’t waste time trying to find someone for cheap, free or equity. Find a good development firm and leave it up to the experts. After they are done, it is a lot easier to find someone to inexpensively upkeep the site.

What are your next steps?  

We will continue working to generate users. We need people to upload their content on our site, and not just register, so that people can start listening to each other’s work and start collaborating. We have the LinkedIn dilemma where our site only works if there are a lot of people on it, but a lot of people won’t go on it unless it works. In other words, the chicken or the egg. So, we are doing our best to get a solid base of people on the site in order to start driving marketing.

We want to be in the know!  Name one person, place or thing that you think is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets—a secret until now, of course.  

I love Soho House—it’s a great place for entrepreneurs to network and work. I also use this Thrillist list to check out cool hidden bars around the city.

Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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