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Do Like Indie Shuffle And Content Curate

Indie Shuffle’s success comes down to curating — not creating — great content, keeping costs low and fans happy.

Monique Verduyn




Vital stats

  • Player: Jason Grishkoff
  • Company: Indie Shuffle
  • Past position: Cut his teeth at Google in Palo Alto
  • Established: 2009
  • Visit:

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Technology gives everyone a voice. But having a voice doesn’t guarantee an audience. In fact, with so much noise, finding an audience is harder than ever. Success often lies in becoming a trusted content curator — a reliable source of high-quality information.

Algorithms are not the key to world domination. Jason Grishkoff knows that. The founder of music blog Indie Shuffle differentiated the platform in a crowded sector by focusing on content curation done by real people who love music.

He’s proved that even in a market dominated by big players, niche providers can thrive by being exceptional and responding to the needs and tastes of their users.

‘We believe humans are better than robots,’ goes its tagline. Since its launch in 2009, Indie Shuffle has streamed more than 500 million minutes of music, the app is approaching one million downloads on iPhone and Android, and the platform has users in all but five countries worldwide. More than six million songs are streamed every month.

Related: How Fashion Start-Up ToVch Built A Brand Presence With Only A Little Budget

Careful curation

The secret to the success of Indie Shuffle is to be found in the team of 50 international contributors — or tastemakers — who alert users to new music and playlists across a range of genres, including indie rock, hip hop, electronic, and everything in between. “We have differentiated ourselves by how well we help listeners sift through a seemingly endless choice,” says Grishkoff.

Born and raised in Cape Town, Grishkoff, whose first love is coding, started the blog as a hobby and a way to keep in touch with friends when he studied and then worked in the US. When, between 2011 and 2013, there was a sudden proliferation of music blogs, Indie Shuffle’s focus on a niche market — music lovers whose tastes lie beyond the Top 40 — gave it the edge.

The idea is to offer curated playlists to get people to listen to new music and artists, with lots of information about each. Becoming known as the go-to source for indie music has positioned Indie Shuffle as a thought leader, which is one of the key benefits of good curation.

Lesson: In his book Tribes, Seth Godin describes a tribe in the following way: “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: A shared interest and a way to communicate.”

The Internet has reignited the age-old concept of the tribe, and has made it possible for tribe members to be spread out all across the globe. And going hand in hand with the proliferation of these online tribes is the concept of content curation.

With so much noise out there, tribes are always on the lookout for carefully curated content. Regardless of your market, you should aim to position yourself as the custodian of content.

Related: Magna Carta’s Digital Strategy Is One To Watch


Remaining competitive

In the US, on-demand streaming by listeners was up 92% through the first half of 2015, with more than 135 billion streams, according to Nielsen Music. In a hugely crowded marketplace, and with the likes of Apple Music and Spotify dominating, to say nothing of YouTube’s music video boom, the combination of careful curation and good technology continues to set Indie Shuffle apart. It also helps that the platform’s target market is hardly mainstream.

“Our competitors in the music sector, most of them with vast music libraries, started shrinking when the new players entered the market, but our superior music collection and sophisticated technology enabled us to grow,” says Grishkoff.

“We developed the ability to allow users to hit play and listen to hours of music before many other music blogs did it, and that was a major differentiator.”

Lesson: Smaller operations can remain competitive even when behemoths invade their market. Despite the presence of Apple Music, Indie Shuffle has remained relevant by offering niche content that’s carefully curated, and by staying at the forefront of technology. It might depend on tastemakers rather than algorithms for curation, but it fully realises the importance of technological innovation.

Ready, set, scale

It helps that Grishkoff is so proficient in the technology behind the platform. He has the ability to quickly make changes and upgrades, so whether he is rolling out new features or improving existing functionality, rapid development allows Indie Shuffle to move quickly, to the benefit of its users.

“The beauty of something like this is that once the platform is running it does not require much attention,” he adds. “Most of my time is focused on simplifying and removing any complexity.”

Behind all these impressive figures are just four full-time staff members, each situated in different parts of the world. Grishkoff, who runs the business side of things, is in Cape Town; two editors in San Francisco and Sydney; and a developer in Calgary.

Lesson: In order for a start-up to become a successful business, its idea needs to be scalable. An influx of business should not result in unmanageable complexity. Indie Shuffle is an excellent example of a service that operates unchanged, almost regardless of user numbers.

Related: Solo Artist And Entrepreneur K.O On Embracing Limitations

Social media rule of thirds graph

Content curation is an excellent way to keep your marketing team small, while still having a strong impact on your customers and target audiences via various social media and digital channels.

The power of content curation

Sharing outsider content by other businesses and thought leaders shows your audience that you know your industry well, that you’re part of a larger community, and that you’re aware of your competition. More importantly, it shows that you’re collaborative and confident enough in your own brand to share another’s content.

Using content curation

Effective content is meaningful, attractive, social media friendly, and on-message with your brand. Keep these elements top of mind when selecting the content you want to share. Once selected, interpret what each piece of content is saying, analyse it according to your brand message, and then present it in an impactful way.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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Lessons Learnt

#Wealthiest List: 8 Self-Made Millionaires On How They Built Their Wealth

These inspirational self-made millionaires built businesses with nothing less than hard work and sheer determination.

Catherine Bristow



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1. Nick D’Aloisio Wrote a Million Dollar App At Age 15


At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio wrote an app while sitting in his parent’s bedroom in the UK. At the age of 17, D’Aloisio sold his app Summly – a mobile news summarisation app to Yahoo for a staggering USD 30 million.

As one of the youngest millionaires, D’Aloisio is also the world’s youngest entrepreneur to be backed by venture capitalists – having secured seed funding from Sir Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s billionaire, as well as raising USD 1.23 million from celebrity investors, including Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.

“The number one thing I did that I think was wise was to get, through some of my advisers, was a Chairman; basically someone who was a very experienced business person, an industry veteran — Bart Swanson, who had been at Amazon and then Badoo. Then, myself and Bart really started finding people and growing the team.”

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Lessons Learnt

7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business

These entrepreneurs have capitalised on a new market set to continue to grow rapidly as more countries legalise marijuana across the world.

Catherine Bristow



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1. Brendan Kennedy


Brendan Kennedy worked on job sites as a carpenter to pay his way through university, with his eyes set firmly on becoming an architect, until the allure of Silicon Valley changed the course of his direction. While working at technology start-ups Kennedy began thinking about the possibilities that medical marijuana provided.

“I was really sceptical of medical cannabis,” he says. “It took a year of having conversations with patients and physicians and hearing the same story, repackaged but essentially the same, over and over and over again, where my scepticism eroded and I became a believer.”

In 2013, Kennedy and his partners applied for a licence from Health Canada and launched Lafitte Ventures, which was later renamed Tilray. Today, the company is a global leader in medical cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.

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Lessons Learnt

Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt




You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:


The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.


The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.


It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.


It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.


Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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